Ines Sastre Beautifies "The Best Man"
by Anthony Kaufman
At age 25, Spanish model Ines Sastre has worked with some of the most
important international filmmakers in the world. When she was only 13,
Carlos Saura directed her patiently in “El Dorado.” A year later, she
appeared in Ulrilke Ottinger’s “Joan of Arc in Mongolia.” And then in
1995, she starred in the first segment of the legendary Michelangelo
Antonioni’s episodic last film, the moving and profound “Beyond the
Clouds,” which received directorial help from Wim Wenders. Now Sastre,
an international model under contract with Lancome, journeys to America
to promote October Films‘ release of “The Best Man” (which opened Aug.
14). Directed by Italian fixture Pupi Avati, “The Best Man,” his 28th
feature, stars Sastre as a gorgeous bride to-be in a small village in
Northern Italy in 1899. When Angelo, a rich adventurer returns to town
after a 15-year absence, he is invited to be the best man at the big
wedding and the young bride looks to him to save her from the forced
After “The Best Man,” Sastre is now excited about continuing her acting
career. She will star opposite Gerard Depardieu in “The Count of Monte
Cristo” and will be traveling to Buenos Aires to act in a new film by
director [TK] Tores (who made the Best Foreign Language Oscar nominee
“The Graves“). At the SoHo Grand Hotel in downtown New York, indieWIRE
spoke to Sastre before she had to head back to Italy to dub “The Best
Man” in French and Spanish. Just out of bed for the late morning
interview, Sastre still looked ravishing and laughed a great deal
through cappuccino and cigarettes.
indieWIRE: So you’ve been doing modeling for a long time?
Ines Sastre: I started working in the cinema first, and then after my
third movie when I was 15, John Casablanca came to see me in Madrid and
I won the Look of the Year in Paris in 1989. I’m the only Look of the
Year winner that never signed the contract. And I started doing a
little bit of modeling, but the thing is, I was at school and
university, so I couldn’t do it full time. Then, my third year of
university, [Michelangelo] Antonioni called me up to say he wanted me to
be in his movie.
iW: How did he discover you?
Sastre: He saw a picture, actually. The director of photography who did
the movie came to see Antonioni, and saw my picture and said, “Yes, of
course, this is Ines, I worked with her when she did her last movie in
Rome.” And at the same time, Wenders’ wife worked on the set of my
second movie in Berlin, and Wenders knew and visited that set of the
movie in Berlin. So, I came back to cinema after 5 years, being with a
whole group of people that I knew. It’s the most bizarre thing. I
think it was absolutely a sort of destiny or something, bringing me back
to cinema. It was all an incredible set of circumstances.
Last year in Cannes, I went to give the Palme d’Or to Antonioni, and I
was very excited. That was one of the most exciting things that ever
happened to me. I told Antonioni I was extremely grateful that he put
me back into cinema again; he put me back into my beginnings, basically.
iW: What was it like working with Antonioni and Wenders?
Sastre: It was a little bit difficult because of Antonioni’s stroke, so
his communication was a bit difficult. But it was fantastic. I think
everybody who was in the movie really wanted to participate in the
project. It was very generous of Wenders to cooperate without getting
in the way of Antonioni. The only thing was that it was a little bit
hard for me, because I had been absent from the cinema for 5 years, to
go back in a such a special film. It’s a shame that the movie hasn’t
been distributed here. Because even if maybe not everybody will see it,
at least, there is some [of the] public that may be interested.
iW: How did it work on the set? Did Wenders listen to Antonioni closely
and then translate and then direct?
Sastre: No, he just tried to explain. Wim Wenders tried to assist the
actors in some way when we got completely lost. Sometimes, I would say,
‘Wim, what should I do here?’ But basically, I must say the four stories
were shot by Antonioni completely.
iW: Tell me about working with Wenders?
Sastre: I think he is a very easy person to talk with. I think he was
very generous to assist Antonioni and I think psychologically it was a
great help for the actors to have him there, always in a good mood with
iW: And you also worked with Carlos Saura, another incredible
international director and you were like 14?
Sastre: 13. I was 13. That was my first movie. I’ve been so very
lucky to work on so few movies with such great directors. “El Dorado”
was the most expensive Spanish film ever done and a very ambitious
project and Saura was a great director. And I though it was great event
to do it. I was a child. I remember well my family telling me, Ines,
it has to be your decision. Because if you force a child to do a movie
and then they can’t cope with it, what are you going to do? So, I was a
very silent and sickly child and I thought why not go into an adventure
like this. I think Saura has a great way of directing children. He has
a fascinating way he can work with children. He’s incredibly patient.
He stops everything. It was amazing to work with him. And I had a
wonderful time. I was very well-protected on that set. I all the time,
hung out with director of photography and the musicians and they taught
my lots of music. I remember it like a very strange thing, because I
was the only young person there. An extraordinary experience.
iW: It sounds like you were living a fantasy?
Sastre: Yes, for four months, I was truly believing I was this girl from
the 16th century.
iW: I wonder how much that had an impact on you?
Sastre: I think my first three films were very hard, long shoots. And
maybe, that’s one of the reasons as well why I stopped cinema, because I
had such an early experience with it, that after three movies, I just
wanted to go back and be normal. Maybe do a couple of pictures, because
it was much lighter than these three difficult things at such a young
iW: How different is the acting you do in modeling in front of the still
camera verses the acting in cinema?
Sastre: I think it’s very different. It has nothing to do, it’s not the
same concentration, it’s not the same energy. Fashion is much quicker.
And maybe, as well, because of my studies, when I’m working in fashion,
I always have to go back immediately to pass my exams. I think I’ve
done fashion passing through it. Not really being there. Passing
through, meeting nice people and then coming back. It’s always been a
sort of [she moves her hand quickly by] ‘shoom’. It was never really
being, completely absorbed, living in the fashion world as it may be in
cinema. Because you have to spend three months [shooting], and you’re
completely isolated and you get one phone call every five days. It
becomes much more concentrated. Which is sometimes very nice.
iW: So how did you come to Avati’s “The Best Man”?
Sastre: I waited two years before doing another movie, because first of
all, the Antonioni film was my first movie in five years and there was a
lot of tension — Lancome decided to put me under contract. It was the
first time as well, that I [got into] more serious fashion. It’s
strange as well that I got more known in fashion through my movies.
Which is completely the opposite. And there weren’t any projects that I
was interested in. And I wait two years. Then Pupi Avati comes to see
me in Madrid and tells me about the project. And I am immediately
interested. I read the script quickly and decide to do it. All the
decisions I think in taking the cinema have been very quick. Either you
like it, it touches you or you can try to find 3,000 million ways of
saying, “yeah, well, maybe if” — it doesn’t work. And it’s something
you have to be concentrated, and do research. I don’t think you can do
it or grow as an actor or learn things if you’re just going to do it for
the sake of doing it.
iW: What was in the Avati film that immediately grabbed you?
Sastre: I think it’s this character of this woman. Like Pupi said, he
started writing the script more about Antonio, the Best Man, and he
ended up having an amazing feminine role, which I think most of the
scripts you read, I know I’m saying something that many actresses have
been saying for many years, so it was such a lovely feminine role, such
a powerful woman, such a powerful decision. There really is a
generation between her mother and her. And I think all these things are
very interesting. And this is also my first film as a main actress. I
did cinema when I was young, I did the Antonioni film, but this was the
first real thought about my acting work. So for me, it was a great
experience doing the film.