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– by Joseph Jammer Medina

Director Werner Herzog marks another film with his vision and beauty in the drama Salt and Fire. The film stars Michael Shannon, Gael Garcia Bernal and Veronica Ferres.

Salt and Fire is about a mysterious hostage-taking situation where a leader of a small scientific delegation is deliberately stranded with two blind boys in an area of the salt flats wasteland.

LRM had an exclusive interview late last month with actress Vernoica Ferres. She discussed the lure and vision of Werner Herzog and the unpredictability and improvisation on acting with the two blind boys.

Salt and Fire is in limited theater release and available on VOD and iTunes today.

Read the full interview below.

LRM: What attracted you to this movie?

Veronica Ferres: It’s Werner Herzog. I saw one of his films when I was a student at the university for psychology and literature. It had a sudden impact with me. I never seen a movie that was more colorful. He is an icon. When he asked me to play a part, I was so excited and happy. I was the next leading lady for him after Nicole Kidman for his next feature film. I felt very, very, very honored.

LRM: What in particular with Werner Herzog that you found so fascinating and what did you see in him as you worked on this project?

Veronica Ferres: It was an amazing experience. It was shooting in South America’s Bolivia in the cold desert of 15,000 square feet altitude. It was incredible. There was a physical challenge, but also an emotional challenge as well. It was pretty intense.

He knows on what he is looking for. As an actor, it’s great to have the director knows on what he wants. He has a very specific vision of the character. He is very, very strong. He’s a volcano to work with. To be an instrument of his vision is a very big challenge. I felt very loved and supportive.

It’s not that he wasn’t allowed to come to me on set. One time, he said, “The moment you wake up, I want you in front of the camera. I want you to look in just the way you wake up.” I just put on the costume and he took me by the hand and took me into the desert. Then he said, “Let’s rehearse.”

There is the pressure that he doesn’t shoot a lot of takes. As long as the camera was rolling, you have to be incredibly be focused.

LRM: Tell me about your character in this movie. There’s a lot of dialogue. There’s some humor. And some emotional situations. Tell me on how you developed this character and to balance everything out.

Veronica Ferres: For my character, she is a scientist and a professor. She is leading a delegation to South America to conduct a research on an ecological disaster. She was then kidnapped by a mysterious man played by Michael Shannon. Everything then changes in her life. It is all very strange to her. When she finally is with the two blind boys in the desert, she was left there after the kidnapping and doesn’t know if they’re going to die out there. She had to deal with this threat, but not to make the boys feel dreaded from this situation. She is protecting them. There are a lot of caring and loving moments with the boys.

It was definitely a great challenge for me, particularly in the scenes with the blind boys. I couldn’t speak their language. They couldn’t speak my language. Most of this is improvised.

LRM: How was acting with the two blind boys?

Veronica Ferres: There was really nothing predictable. You just have to react towards them. Werner had this direction he demanded from me with emotional intelligence. It’s be in the character in the right way. Whatever [the boys] did, were never predictable.You never knew on what’s coming next. You have to be incredibly well prepared. Nobody really knows on what was going to happen.

The cameras kept rolling. You had to stay in the moment and stay in character. You have to act like you’re far away from any civilization and trying to survive. You have to act like you are caring for the lives of these kids. We try to make the best out of it.

LRM: Now you were working out at the salt flats and camping out there. It was so beautiful on film. Was that one of Werner’s type of visions that may surprised you?

Veronica Ferres: Yes. I have never seen so much beauty. I have never seen so much poetry in nature. The environment, the stars at night, the sights—I just can’t describe the beauty out there. It’s just unforgettable. To spend time with Michael Shannon, Werner Herzog and his wife, and the whole crew was just really, really special.

LRM: How was working with Michael Shannon?

Veronica Ferres: Very shy. But, he is an incredible professional. He always arrived very well prepared and very opened. As a person, he puts himself on the same eye-level and is very respectful. He’s very supportive on the set. It’s like having a brother coming home although I’ve never met him before.

LRM: Do you prefer acting in German movies or English movies?

Veronica Ferres: English movies. [Laughs]

LRM: Really? Why?

Veronica Ferres: It’s nothing specific. I like the English language movies and getting to work with certain people like in this movie. I think Michael Shannon is one of the best actors in this world. He invited me to watch him on Broadway and he was so powerful on stage called Long Day’s Journey Into Night. It was just amazing.

This is why I love doing what I do in the movies and on the set.

LRM: Let me wrap this up with you, can you talk about any of the future projects you may have?

Veronica Ferres: I just finished a movie with Fox International, which is a comedy. They wanted me to do a movie with Keanu Reeves called Siberia and another one with Sir Ben Kingsley called Death of an Author.

LRM: Wow. You’re keeping busy. Thank you for this conversation. I appreciate it. Good luck with your future projects.

Veronica Ferres: Thank you for your time. I love talking to you.

Salt and Fire is in limited theater release and available on VOD and iTunes today.

Source: Exclusive to LRM

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.