The literal ending of the world seems like such an abstract concept that many people refuse to believe that such harmful events as global warming are contributing to mankind’s destruction. But the idea that humans are indeed heavily contributing to their inevitable deaths can be seen in the new sci-fi drama ’4:44 Last Day on Earth,’ which was directed and written by Abel Ferrara and is now playing in select theaters.
’4:44 Last Day on Earth’ chronicles the turbulent romantic relationship between successful actor Cisco (played by Willem Dafoe) and the younger, insecure painter Skye (portrayed by Shanyn Leigh). Along with the rest of the world, the two are struggling to face their mortality, as the end of the world is coming tomorrow at 4:44 am. The two have accepted their pre-determined deaths, as irrevocable forces of nature, including excessive global warming, can’t be reversed by scientists. However, Cisco and Skye are still struggling with the seemingly broken bond between them and those closest to them.
Leigh generously took the time to sit down at a roundtable interview at the Regency Hotel in New York City to discuss what it was like filming ’4:44 Last Day on Earth.’ Among other things, the actress also spoke about what it was like working with Ferrara and Dafoe on the movie, and what her philosophy on what the causes of the end of the world are.
Written by: Karen Benardello
Question (Q): What was it like working with Abel on ’4:44 Last Day on Earth?’ You two previously worked together, on such films as ‘Napoli, Napoli, Napoli’ and ‘Go Go Tales.’
Shanyn Leigh (SL): It was much easier, the first one was horrible. (laughs) ‘Go Go Tales’ was a disaster. We were fighting all the time, and got thrown out of like five places. It was all egos, and the first movie was a real rite of passage.
This time was so much easier, because we grew as a couple and as individuals. It was fun and a wonderful experience. On ‘Go Go Tales,’ I almost died, it was really dramatic.
Q: ’4:44 Last Day on Earth’ is your first major leading role. How did you prepare for it-did you do any kind of research?
SL: Yeah, I study and work with acting directors, including Elizabeth Kemp. I go to acting classes, and I love going to the classes and taking on different characters.
I studied Frida Kahlo, because I was just in Mexico. I consider her to be an incredible painter. She was also a strong woman who had a tortured life, physically and with her relationships. I really related to her. (laughs) So I studied with my acting teachers and my research.
Q: Abel seems to be a very philosophical human being who looks deeply into things. Do you find that to be a point of connection, and how does that impact you as a creative person?
SL: It helps me, because I’m a very trusting person. I maybe foolishly and naively just accept truth. He really investigates, and tries to understand where things come from. It helps me understand things, and why I like or don’t like something. He is very philosophical.
Q: What is your philosophy on the end of the world, in this early stage of your life?
SL: Well, I think global warming does exist. For me, at least, that was one of the reasons on wanting to make this movie. Just being in New York City on Thanksgiving and wearing shorts, or having a snowstorm in October, there are so many devastating environmental events, one after the other. It’s so overwhelming, all of these environmental disasters.
It’s devastating that the end of the world is coming, because of us and our abuse of mother nature. There are people out there who don’t believe it, that we can destroy the earth and go too far. Like with the drilling in Alaska, I can go on forever. Seeing the amount that we’ve done to the earth, that was a big thing and inspiring point in making this movie.
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