Martin Scorsese spent over 20 gruelling years to get his adaptation of Shûsaku Endô’s 1966 novel “Silence” to the screen. But that obsession to tell the story of Jesuit priests who try to spread Christianity to 1500s Japan seeped into his main actors as well.
In a profile on Scorsese and the making of “Silence” in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine, the film’s stars Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver reveal the intense research they did before shooting the film in Taiwan to authentically play Jesuit priests.
Garfield spent nearly a year absorbing Jesuit spirituality.
“Andrew got to the point where he could out-Jesuit a Jesuit,” Rev. James Martin, author and editor-at-large of the Jesuit weekly America, who was a consultant on the film, said in the New York Times story. “There were places in the script where he would stop and say, ‘A Jesuit wouldn’t say that,’ and we would come up with something else.”
Driver spent four and a half months dropping 51 pounds to play the role. By his final scene of shooting Driver was hallucinating from hunger, according to the Times story.
Both actors also spent time at the Jesuit retreat in Wales, St. Beuno, where they took part in a seven-day pledge of silence. When the two would cross paths they would wave to each other and continue on with their studies of Jesus’ life, his crucifixion, and resurrection.
“I had the feeling that I was being called to something: called to work with one of the great directors, and called to this role as something I had to pursue for my spiritual development,” Garfield said about preparing for the role.
“Silence” opens in theatres December 23.
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