What’s Ledda’s appeal for you?
I read the script and was completely sold. You could ‘make something’ out of this Ledda. With each new version of the script, Ledda became more sharply outlined. In Jef Geeraerts he is little more than a muscleman. In the film he acquires an intellectual edge. I like that.
How do you see Angelo Ledda?
As a murderer. People choosing to make crime their career, will never cease to amaze me. I still can’t quite grasp that. Ledda was horribly hurt once. It made him decide, as a young lad, to become a killer. The fact that such a talented person chooses the path of cold-blooded murder remains a mystery to me.
I wonder why and how Ledda manages to go this far. I’m sure people will go much further than that, that Geeraerts is only showing us the tip of the iceberg. Ledda could be a psychopath, but isn’t, not to me anyway. He is a man who, at one point in his life, turns over a leaf and says to himself: I’m going to be a hitman, as some kind of — passionless — revenge. Later on in his career, a job confronts him with his past and his emotions kick in. This man, who acts purely without goal, without ‘cause’, suddenly does have a cause. Or is it calculated, a game? Playing Ledda set me thinking. You may lose pills that cure a certain illness, but you can also choose to lose them. In which case it becomes a game with life and death. Ledda’s days either go by too fast or too slowly, and for him Alzheimer’s comes too late.
Did you do any research for the job? Your colleagues talk about your ‘Alzheimer mask’.
I spoke to nurses who work with Alzheimer’s patients. They made the symptoms very tangible for me; ‘funny’, actually, the way they imitate them. In a way, they gave me acting lessons. I also spoke to doctors, who gave me some sort of insight into the pathological process, which is different for every patient. Erik Van Looy’s film does not show us the clinical picture of Alzheimer’s. It couldn’t if it tried, since the entire story takes place in 9 days. Ledda, however, knows what’s around the corner and draws his own conclusions; which I find sort of odd for a man leading such an immoral life. On the other hand, he hands everything he has to the police, more specifically to Vincke, because he knows he doesn’t have much longer. In no time, a bond develops between Vincke and Ledda, which is why the film ends the way it does. If it didn’t, his clients might decide to get rid of Vincke and Verstuyft.
Was it hard to play Angelo Ledda?
Not really. It was quite a burden to carry, though. You take a character like Ledda home with you. It’s impossible to switch off. It may get easier with age, but somehow Ledda lingers.
Talking difficulties: what was the most difficult scene for you?
The one in which I burst into Lucas Vanden Eynde’s house (Van Camp). It is such a brutal scene. I really had to cross a threshold there. I love Lucas, who is a great actor. The thought I must kill him, is horrifying. You stand there facing a pal, and you know he’s had it. I know it’s only film, but somehow, reality does loom. This guy’s your friend! When the scene was shot, we had some serious making up to do, as you can imagine! Never before have I been so wrapped up in a role. It wasn’t hard to do at all.