Fever Pitch

Asia Argento Branches Out in the Family Business

Reversing herself again: "But I wanna do something, I don't wanna be done. Acting is like being an instrument. It could be the violin, it could be the oboe. You need a guy to play you. You can't play your own self by yourself, unless you're a mechanical piano."

Back to extolling the director's art, she reels off her favorites. "I love the dreamlike world in Fellini and the true horror in Polanski, and the solitude. I love silent movies, Dziga Vertov and Pabst. Abel Ferrara taught me a great lesson—the way he pushes actors to their limit. I did that too. I had these two people having sex [for a scene]; they didn't know each other, they're not porn actors; one is a DJ, Vera is a friend. It was lunch break, I convinced them to have sex. I know how to get what I want. If I have to be scary, I'll be scary. That time I needed to be nice. Just . . . nice, like a snake."

Argento carries Scarlet Diva both as actor and director. In XXX, she has precious few lines, but she's considering taking another such role to finance her next directorial effort. "I always loved this Brando line: 'Acting, not prostitution, is the oldest profession.' Baudelaire said art is prostitution. When you're giving something so intimate to the world and being paid for it, that's no different. But artists also get pleasure. We do it for ourselves. It's a really funky kind of prostitution." And filled with surprises and inversions, it turns out: "With Scarlet Diva I wanted to make a silent movie. That's why the big faces, big expressions, everything is so exaggerated. Instead I did the silent movie with XXX."

"I'm enjoying the perks that actors get. We're so spoiled."
photo: Richard Mitchell
"I'm enjoying the perks that actors get. We're so spoiled."

Also in this issue:
Michael Atkinson's review of XXX and Scarlet Diva

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