The Other Man features Laura Linney as Lisa, the apex of a delicious love triangle between husband Peter (Liam Neeson) and her secret lover, Ralph (Antonio Banderas). But there’s a catch – Peter has no idea his wife of 20 years has been leading a secret life with another man. A note left in a pair of her favorite shoes reads simply, “Lake Como.” Peter is then launched into a painful treasure hunt, and the tale that ensues is an intriguing mystery that explores the rocky relationship between Peter and Ralph, as they slowly discover what they have in common – the same woman.
How were you initially drawn to the project?
Laura Linney: I wasn’t really attracted to the role to be honest. I was attracted to being able to work with Liam again, working with [director] Richard Eyre again, [and] getting to know Antonio and work with him. [NOTE:Both Linney and Neeson were directed by Eyre in the 2002 Broadway production of The Crucible]. I didn’t even need to read the script, I just said yes, and then read the script and was like ‘Ok, here’s my challenge now.’
Antonio Banderas: When I read the script for the first time, [it reminded me of] some of the characters, in terms of risk, that I [played] many years ago when I was [working in Spain]. And then when I met Richard, he said, ‘Yeah, I am calling you because I know that you are not afraid [to] actually go for a character like that.’
Laura, why does Lisa leave the Lake Como note? Did she want her husband to find out about her affair with Ralph?
Linney: You can decide that she wanted to take her husband to Lake Como. Or, you can say that she was leading him right to a further intimacy of herself [by finding out about her affair]. She wanted him to know her completely. I wanted to leave it a mystery. I intentionally played it so that it would challenge an audience into trying to figure it out.
Banderas: I think, at the end, clearly she wants her husband to find out.
How does working with a director with a strong theatrical background change your experience as an actor?
Linney: Directors that come from the theatre, they tend to – not all of them – but they tend to understand actors in a deeper way than some people who are just trained in film. Not that one is better than the other, but it’s just different. There’s a much better ease of communication. And there’s just sort of a deeper connection, I find, with directors who really have the same language [as actors]. There’s a real collaborative feel, which is essential in the theatre and I feel is essential in film.
Banderas: At the time we were working together, he [Richard Eyre] took me to places of exploration, unknown places. ‘Here is a cliff and you have to jump.’ And you don’t know if at the end of this jump [there will be] be rocks down there or if you’re gonna find water. That’s the whole entire feeling that I had when I was doing the movie.
Linney: It’s such a collaborative [effort]. There are so many layers that are added to a film performance. We bring what we bring to the table, and then Richard will sort of guide us to shift or change our behavior [in accordance with his vision].
Banderas: In theatre, the audience is the one who is going to edit you. But, in movies, no. On specific takes you say to yourself, ‘I nailed it.’ And then you see that they used a totally different take.
What would you like people to take away from this film?
Linney: I do know that it will provoke…conversation (she laughs). I think it’s going to affect people in different ways. I think it’s a little provocative — for some people in a good way, and for some in an uncomfortable way.
Banderas: There is a fantastic moment in that dinner party at the end of the movie [where] everybody says, ‘we don’t’ recognize ourselves as good, [or] bad, we are human beings.’ The movie doesn’t give you straight answers, [it gives] the possibility of sitting down in front of a screen and reflect[ing] about things that are very deep [within] the soul of human beings.
The Other Man is definitely just that; a reason to pause for reflection, and examine our beliefs about morality, love, possession, revenge, and the eternal question of trust.
Directed by Sir Richard Eyre and starring Liam Neeson, Laura Linney and Antonio Banderas, The Other Man is currently playing in theatres everywhere.