Israeli actor to play son of Holocaust survivor in Italian director Paolo Sorrentino’s first English-language production. ‘It’s a dream come true to cooperate with such a fascinating actor,’ he says
Israeli actor Liron Levo has landed a role in Sean Penn’s new film, “This Must be the Place,” which also stars Frances McDormand and Harry Dean Stanton. This is the first English-language film of esteemed Italian director Paolo Sorrentino.
“This Must be the Place” is named after a song by Talking Heads, David Byrne’s veteran American rock band. Byrne himself has a role in the film as well.
Penn plays a former punk singer who travels from Ireland to the United States to say goodbye to his dying father, a Holocaust survivor. When he arrives at his father’s house, he discovers that he has already died and begins hunting for a Nazi war criminal who abused his father in the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Levo, 38, is Penn’s cousin in the film. “I play the role of a jewelry salesman, a former Israeli, who has been living in the US for 20 years. I reveal to Sean his father’s story in Auschwitz, which he is totally unaware of. After our meeting, he decides to search for that executioner.”
How did you even get to this talked-about and very intriguing production?
“In 2008 I was among the jury at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, alongside director Paolo Sorrentino. We had an interesting dialogue about the films competing in the festival and found out that we share similar opinions and the same sense of humor.
“Two years later I got a text message from Paolo, in which he informed me that he was making a film with Sean Penn and was wondering if I wanted to audition for the movie. He sent me the script and I really liked it.
“Ahead of the audition I chose a significant segment from the script and performed and documented this scene with the help of a friend. I sent the tape to the film’s casting director. She told me my audition was good, and things progressed from them. And then Paolo sent me a text message saying he liked the audition and that we would see each other soon. He also wrote that he was very happy we were going to work together.”
Levo, who once dated Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman, traveled to Detroit several weeks ago for the film shoot. “The production was calm and peaceful,” he reports. “Everyone stayed in the same hotel, and because a large part of the crew was Italian, we could joke with them and have a beer together at the end of each shooting day.
“I had the pleasure of meeting David Byrne, who turned out to be a charming and witty person. He and his band members arrived everywhere on their bicycles.”
And how was your meeting with Sean Penn? He’s known to be quite difficult.
“I was very impressed by him actually. It was wonderful, great and interesting to work with him. A dream come true. I was delighted to cooperate with such a great and fascinating actor.”