Toni Servillo (“The Great Beauty”) is set to star in Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Hand of God,” which started shooting last week in Naples, the Oscar-winning director’s hometown.
Production of Sorrentino’s new pic, which is produced by Fremantle-backed The Apartment for Netflix, has since moved to the Sicilian island of Stromboli, according to a well-placed source who on Monday confirmed Italian press reports regarding both Servillo’s casting and the film’s shoot.
Fremantle did not respond to request for comment.
Described by Sorrentino in promotional materials as an “intimate and personal film,” “The Hand of God” marks Sorrentino’s return to making a film mainly set, and shot, in his native Naples, 20 years after his feature debut “One Man Up” in 2001, in which Servillo played a cocaine-addled club singer.
Servillo, a frequent fixture in Sorrentino’s work, has since performed in four other films by the Neapolitan director. After appearing in “One Man Up” Servillo played a heroin-addicted accountant for the mob in “The Consequences of Love”; controversial Italian politician Giulio Andreotti in “Il Divo”; decadent socialite Jep Gambardella in “The Great Beauty,” winner of the 2014 best international film Oscar; and media-mogul-turned-pol Silvio Berlusconi in “Loro.”
Other casting details of “The Hand of God” are still not known.
The small island of Stromboli, on which there is an active volcano, has previously served as a location for several films, most famously for Roberto Rossellini’s eponymous drama “Stromboli,” starring Ingrid Bergman.
Though story details of “The Hand of God” are being kept under wraps, the film’s title clearly refers to Argentinian soccer champion Diego Maradona’s own definition of a larcenous goal he scored in 1986 during a World Cup quarter final between England and Argentina.
But the film is not about Maradona, though he is known to have been a very meaningful figure for Sorrentino.
In an interview with Variety in 2015, the director said of the soccer icon: “Aside from all the things I’ve said before about Maradona, he involuntarily saved my life. I lost my parents when I was 16 in an accident with the heating system in a house in the mountains where I always used to go to with them. That weekend, I didn’t go because I wanted to go watch Maradona and S.S.C Napoli play a match in Empoli, and that saved me.”
Netflix is expected to drop “The Hand of God” sometime next year, possibly after — or in parallel with — a small theatrical run.
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