Rebecca Hall said Saturday that her mother told her Hall’s directorial debut, Passing, liberated her family, as Hall’s grandfather was a Black man who decided to pass for White in Detroit.
Hall and stars Ruth Negga and Andre Holland spoke during the panel for the Netflix drama at Deadline’s Contenders Film: New York awards-season showcase.
“She called me up in tears when she first saw it and she just said, ‘You’ve liberated us,’ ” Hall said. “I grew up observing my mother and thinking about the psychological impact of being brought up in an environment where you weren’t allowed to talk about something. To me, she always looked like a Black woman. I was saying to her, ‘Tell me about this. What are we? Tell me the story.’ She didn’t know. It’s not that she wouldn’t. She couldn’t. She was respecting her father’s wishes.”
The Contenders Film: New York — Deadline’s Complete Coverage
Negga plays Clare, a 1920s woman who passes for white with a white husband (Alexander Skarsgard). Negga said she and co-tar Tessa Thompson had intense discussions prior to filming.
“A lot of acting is actually just being open to receive and listening and what happens in that space between,” Negga said. “You can prepare all you want but once you get into the set or the stage, it’s what happens then and there. I think if you’re really committed to story, if you’re committed to a character, then that will come. It’s like dancing. I’d dance with Tessa anytime.”
Holland plays Brian, Irene (Thompson)’s husband. He said he also related to the themes of the film.
“I really connected to Brian’s sense of having done everything right in his life, being a successful doctor, a good husband, a good father and yet still this deep dissatisfaction with where he is in his life,” Holland said. “I feel that, I understand that and so I really enjoyed leaning into that part of it.”
Based on Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel, writer-director Hall’s Passing explores the lives of two Irene and Clare, mixed-race childhood friends who reunite as adults. They become involved in each other’s lives and explore how they diverged due to Irene identifying as Black while Clare “passes” as white. Bill Camp and Gbenga Akinnagbe also star in the film, which premiered at Sundance. Netflix acquired the pic in February for nearly $15 million and is now streaming it.
Sundance Review: Tessa Thompson & Ruth Negga In Rebecca Hall’s ‘Passing’
Check back Monday for the panel video.
The Sponsors for Contenders Film: New York are Michter’s Distillery, Los Siete Misterios Mezcal, Eyepetizer, and modMD.
Passing’ Trailer: Tessa Thompson & Ruth Negga Star In Netflix Movie It Landed At Sundance
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