Adam Driver and the cast of Michael Mann’s Ferrari revved up the Venice Film Festival on Thursday, giving the Bienalle a much-needed boost of star power for one of this year’s most hotly anticipated films.
Driver plays the legendary Italian car maker Enzo Ferrari in the new biopic, which co-stars Penélope Cruz as his wife Laura Ferrari and Shailene Woodley as his lover Lina Lardi. The drama, which will have its world premiere in Venice Thursday night, depicts a pivotal point in Ferrari’s life and in the history of his car company. Jack O’Connell and Patrick Dempsey co-star as Italian racers.
Driver and Mann alternated between discussing the film and talking about the dual strikes that are dominating discussion among industry attendees in Venice. Ferrari received an interim agreement waiver from SAG-AFTRA to allow Driver and co-star Dempsey to attend Venice to promote the movie. Neon will release the film domestically, with a planned Christmas release. STX International is handling the film worldwide.
One of the conditions of the waiver is that distributors comply with SAG-AFTRA demands, including on the subject of subscription revenue and residuals, issues that the studios and streamers have rejected in negotiations with the union.
“Why is it that a smaller distribution company like Neon or STX International can meet the dream demands of what SAG is asking for in this pre-negotiation but a big company like Netflix and Amazon can’t?” Driver asked. “Every time people from SAG go and support a movie that has agreed to these terms — the interim agreement — it just makes it more obvious that these people are willing to support the people that they collaborate with, and the others are not. So when this opportunity came up, it seemed like — understanding the interim agreement — a no-brainer for all of these reasons of why you want to support your union.”
By coming to Venice to support the movie, Driver said he hoped doing so would help “stop the bleeding a little bit” by helping people in IATSE and SAG-AFTRA to be able to go to work.
Mann made it clear that “individually and collectively we all stand in total solidarity with SAG and the writers guild strike as well.”
“Ferrari got made because the people who worked on Ferrari made it by forgoing large sectors of salaries, in the case of Adam and myself,” Mann added. “It was not made by a big studio — no big studio wrote us a check. And that’s why we’re here, standing in solidarity.”
Returning to the subject of the movie, Mann said he felt compelled to tell Ferrari’s story because he found it “profoundly human.”
“When a character is as dynamic and operatic as [Ferrari] is, the more specifically you get into the man, the more universal he becomes,” Mann explained. He added that the former race car driver turned pioneering auto engineer had “many parts of him [that were] in opposition to each other [and that] kind of resonated with me as the way life is.”
“So, either it’s melodramatic or profound or sad — or because I’m as oppositional as he is — I don’t know,” Mann said. “But that is what it was.”
Driver said he found Ferrari to be “very much driven by grief” after the death of his son, which compelled him as a character. He added that the opportunity to work with Mann was a “no-brainer.”