The incredibly picturesque Scottish village of Luss, resting on the leafy western shores of Loch Lomond, is perhaps only a 45-minute drive from the heart of Glasgow, but you’d easily believe you were nestled within the Highlands.
And so Danielle Macdonald – the Australian star from Los Angeles Patti$ Cake – found herself marveling at her sunny shores while filming Polish-Australian writer/director Ben Lewin’s sweet comedy Fall for the Figaro.
“Honestly, there was a scene in there where I’m sitting by the lake and I’m wearing this orange jacket. I remember it because it was the most breathtaking sight I’ve ever seen, ”se recalls Macdonald, with his traditional Scottish surname “It looks amazing in the film, but there’s no way they can capture on camera how breathtaking it was in person.”
Indeed, as she turned her back on the Loch as the incredible backdrop to a scene in which her former hedge fund manager has become an aspiring opera singer, Millie has a heart-to-heart with her full-on compatriot. ‘hope Max (Flea bag star Hugh Skinner), she couldn’t wait for Lewin to call cut. “Every chance I had, I kept turning back,” she says. “Wow. It’s a very beautiful place, Scotland.
An American import, Millie leaves London boardrooms and her boyfriend Charlie (Star Trek: Discovery‘s Shazad Latif) behind to convince absolutely fabulous the great Joanna Lumley, as imperiously grumpy opera coach Meghan, to teach her a thing or two. The big goal is to enter a career-building contest, Singer of Renown. Which initially puts her in the bad books with Max, who feels like she’s stepping on her toes. Both are subjected to a near-continuous barrage of colorful insults thanks to Meghan’s sharp, silvery tongue.
Working with living legend Lumley was a dream come true for Macdonald, a fan. “It’s still crazy to me, honestly, but she’s very warm and welcoming, and so instantly you feel connected to her because she lets you in.”
A mile away from her character Meghan’s bullying tactics, however, Lumley shares her quick wit. “She’s so funny and so sharp,” Macdonald says. “Sometimes Hugh and I would sit down and just go, ‘How is she so good? She is never bad. And I was hypnotized by her.
Being musically gifted is a refrain that runs through several Macdonald films, from his breakthrough success playing a New Jersey rapper in Geremy Jasper’s 2017 hit Patti$ caketo put on the leather boots of the famous rock journalist Lillian Roxon in the biopic Helen Reddy of Unjoo Moon I’m a woman. Apparently it’s accidental.
“I love music, so whenever something like this happens, I want to say yes, because it really influences my life,” Macdonald says. “I have very eclectic tastes, but I’m not a musician myself, so it’s a bit crazy.”
It all meant a lot of hard work to get the appearance of opera singing, even though the actual vocals for her performance were recorded at her home by Opera Australia luminary and Australian-Mauritian soprano Stacey Alleaume.
“I trained every day in Los Angeles and while filming another movie in Canada before coming to Scotland, then every day when I got there,” she says. “My voice didn’t sound right, but you have to do it technically right, like breathing, notes, pronouncing words the right way, because they’re all in different languages. If I hadn’t done that, I never would have been able to give the impression that I could.
It was particularly terrifying, Macdonald notes, to perform in front of the many legitimate Scottish opera singers who appear as extras in the Singer of Renown scenes, including a young student who helped drag her onto the set. . “It was really amazing, but also very intimidating and very cool to be in the mood and really feel it around you.”
Lewin was really nice to work with, Macdonald said. “He always has a smile on his face and he never lets the pressure get to him to the point where he would crack. He has such good energy, and it’s tough in high pressure situations like [shooting a film] but he’s really awesome.
Macdonald hopes a temporarily suspended top-secret project with everyone’s favorite lockdown music creator Bo Burnham – billed as a high school game in which two students don superhero costumes to turn the tables on their bullies – will recover soon to be running. She also relished filming a darkly comedic thriller The tourist next to Belfast direct Jamie Dornan, in the majestic setting of the Flinders Ranges in South Australia. The ranges provided a lot more opportunities to smash the takes between takes.
“I loved filming The touristraves Macdonald. “It was so nice to be back in Australia for such a long time and to be in the outback. There’s nothing like it in the world. The scenery is amazing. And so it was like summer camp, shooting this crazy, wild show. I’ll never forget it.”
Fall for the Figaro is currently in theaters.
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