Scorsese's 'Silence' Aiming for 2016 Cannes Debut; Liam Neeson Lost 20lbs for Role

Tired yet of the 2015 Awards Season? Well then – how about the 2016 Awards Season? At the 4th Annual Los Cabos International Film Festival, Liam Neeson and producer Gaston Pavlovich were on hand to preview the upcoming Martin Scorsese film Silence. The picture, based upon the novel by Shusaku Endo, focuses on two Jesuit priests who face violent persecution when they travel to Japan. The 2016-Oscar-hopeful reunites Scorsese with Neeson after Gangs of New York and stars Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield in the lead roles.

At the press conference, producer Gaston Pavlovich revealed that Martin Scorsese is in mid stages of the editing process, putting the finishing touches on his director’s cut. The producer later disclosed that while it’s impossible to say what the exact runtime for the finished film will be, they’re aiming for around “two hours and ten minutes”. “The hope”, he said, “is for the film to premiere at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival”; but he’s quick to remark that they’re not pressuring Scorsese and the movie will be finished whenever the filmmaker deems it to be. Regardless expect to see Silence during the second half of the 2016 movie year.

Liam Neeson discussed just what brought him to take a supporting role in Scorsese’s latest. “Who’s going to turn down a job with Martin Scorsese?” the actor joked, “He’s a very special director and for actors he’s exceptional. His level of concentration and focus, what he prepares for the actors before you come on set is just wonderful.”

Neeson touched on his his Irish Catholic upbringing and what Silence means to him personally. “Being raised an Irish Catholic myself, the subject of faith and Catholicism struck very deeply home” Neeson confided, “The question in the film is: Is there a god? We’re all in some way asking ourselves that all the time. What is the purpose of life? What is faith? Why have faith? Why do we wake up in the morning and get out of bed? It’s as basic as that and the film asks all these questions and dramatizes them in a very exceptional way.”

The shoot for Silence was incredibly arduous, a 6.1 earthquake in Taiwan delaying production. Neeson described the ordeal as the “most terrifying moment of my life.” “I was in my hotel room, on the 15th floor and the room, the world, started to shake” he said, “I thought I’ll just stand under the door way, that’s what you do. I was under there for 10 seconds. I thought this is crazy — I’m 15-floors up, you don’t stand in the doorway. I went out into the corridor and there’s a little lady, the manager of the floor. She’s got her clipboard to see if the rooms are cleaned. I’m standing there [shaking] and she turns to me and says, ‘No problem, no problem. I’ve been here twenty years – no problem.”

The physical preparation for Silence tested Neeson, who dropped “twenty pounds for the role. “Martin wanted us all to look a bit more gaunt, which [Adam Driver & Andrew Garfield] did as well. I know Adam went to the extreme. He’s an ex marine and when he’s given an order, he follows it through. He was like something out of Auschwitz. Martin requires this level of [dedication] and I think it pays off.”

“Martin is intimidating.” Neeson continued, “He’s legendary — so as a performer you have to get over that. I had to get over that…He require[s] absolute silence on set, like everybody has to stop work when he’s giving a direction or explaining a scene. I mean everybody — the guy that’s painting 400 yards away has to stop. If he hears one tiny sound it’s shattered for him so he commands that respect. He commands that silence and especially for this film it was necessary”

Silence is expected to open in theaters late next year.

The Los Cabos International Film Festival runs from November 11th to 15th
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