Crossing 170 kilometers of open sea between Cuba and Florida at the age of 64: this is a feat achieved in 2013 on the fifth attempt (four after the age of 60, the first at the age of 29 in 1979) in 2013 by a former marathon swimmer, then a sports journalist, Diana Nyad, the first athlete to complete the crossing without the protection of a shark cage. An extraordinary true story has been turned into a film for Netflix (where it is already available), Nyad – Beyond the Ocean directed by Oscar-winning documentarians Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin (2019 statuette winners for Free Solo) who make their fictional debut here.
Annette Bening is the perfect protagonist, along with Jodie Foster in the role of trainer Bonnie Stoll, connected by an increasingly intense and deep relationship, with the outlines of platonic love, with her friend Diana. A duet that, according to many critics, could return both of them to the Oscar race.
“Their friendship is the beating heart” – explains the director Chai Vasarhelyi in one of the sessions of Deadline Contenders, dedicated to the most important films of the season, also considering the nominations for the Oscar 2024. “Since we read the script (written by Julia Cox who adapted the autobiography Diane Nyad, ‘Find a Way’), we were sure that we wanted to cast an actress of the same age as Diana, who was able to fully reflect her. complexities and was ready to face the physical test required by the role. We were thrilled when Annette accepted the role.” Annette brought her mastery of acting to the preparation for the role: she trained to swim for about a year, and on her first day on set at a safety test for the water scenes, she amazed everyone by showing how believable she is as a marathon runner. . Another example of her greatness as an actress.”
You don’t have to be an actress “to want a challenge – explains Annette Bening -. Diana failed in the same feat when she was 20 years old, and then at 60, she decided to do it, even though many told her However, she felt that her life has value and that, through the obstacles she has overcome since childhood, she has earned the right to fight for that goal, also thanks to her life experience.” Diana Nyad’s strength (who today travels around the USA holding meetings as a motivational speaker, ed.) “is not the only interesting aspect about her – adds the actress, who has already been nominated for an Oscar four times -. She has a great personality, but she struck me as having a lot of her sweetness, a part of her that suffers, a part that is insecure, a part that we all have.” For this reason, “I wanted to show those aspects that she, believing in me, showed me”.
Annette Bening initially didn’t think Jodie Foster would accept the role of Bonnie, but “then we met and talked about the script for a long time. She already had great ideas and Chai and I told her to feel free. When she said yes to role, I was so happy because it would have allowed the film to go one step further, Bonnie needed an actress of her calibre.” Jodie Foster “is brilliant, self-confident, but also very witty and modest – emphasizes Annette Bening – an extraordinary combination”. Coming to the physical training performed for the film, “I’m quite athletic, I’ve been diving, I’m not afraid of water, but when I first got into the pool to train, I cried thinking about what I have to be credible – she says – But I had Olympic swimmer Rada Owen as a coach and day after day, working and working, we got there.”
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