Interview with Jaume Collet-Serra (Director)
Goal!2 – Living The Dream follows the adventures of footballing prodigy Santiago Munez (Kuno Becker) as he secures a dream move from Newcastle United to Real Madrid. Reunited with former teammate Gavin Harris (Alessandro Nivola) this change puts a strain on his relationship with girlfriend Ros (Anna Friel), just one of the pressures he has to contend with as he achieves superstar status.
Goal!2 is the second film in a trilogy of footballing dramas, and is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, whose previous feature credit is House of Wax.
There is a big challenge that goes with making a football movie, isn't there?
Yeah, because you love the game so much, you never feel that you're making it true. It's impossible to really capture everything. You're trying to make a movie where you stick to reality and you're trying to make it accurate and you only really get one chance. The Bernabeu Stadium [home to Real Madrid] is full of people only once in a while, I have a few cameras pointing at the pitch, but if they're pointing at the pitch they're not pointing at the crowd. And I want to look everywhere. I want to do it in slow motion, but then they have to reload faster and every time they reload they're missing two minutes, it's very challenging.
Is it a problem if the live matches you film with the real football stars don't turn out the way you expect?
You never know what's going to happen. We started shooting the games and then we realised that maybe the first game we shot was going to be better later in the movie and other games would probably be better earlier in the movie, so you just go from there.
You've just filmed the game where Real Madrid went down 1-0 to Arsenal. Football fans, particularly Arsenal fans, will always now this is really what happened won't they?
It's a film, it's not a documentary. It's not propaganda for Madrid, it's a film and films will last a long time hopefully. I think that you'll be able to see this movie and maybe forget some of the games. I'm sure the Arsenal fans will never forget it, but I wish that Madrid had played a little bit better.
So in your film do Real Madrid lose to Arsenal?
No in my film Madrid win. It's a movie! In the movie they lose against Barcelona.
You are, of course, a Barcelona fan aren't you?
Yeah, but I'm screwed for life because I've been rooting for Madrid for six months. I can never go back to Barcelona now. That's the thing, you grow up hating Real Madrid and then you come and you meet everybody involved with the team and they're wonderful, you start to like them.
When did you admit your allegiance?
They all knew from the beginning, the newspaper people from Barcelona wrote it. They don't care though, the players gave me a hard time, but it's no big deal because there's such great respect between the two clubs. They're two equally big, powerful clubs.
Have you worked to get some kind of visual continuity between this film and the first one?
Yeah, but this one is a bit more glossy. Obviously in the first film it's a rags to riches story, pretty simple, this one has a natural progression from that, you take this kid and you put him in the biggest club in the world, you give him a lot of money, you give him a few personal problems, a lot of pressure and you see him crash. Which happens to a lot of these kids. Stylistically we follow that, but it was my intention to also keep it grounded. It's not all about Lamborghinis and parties, we also see the down and dirty side of Madrid. We introduce some characters from the poor areas of the city and you see that football connects all of these things. That's really the message of this trilogy, that football is universal, it ties people together. That's what we were trying to capture.
Did you need much persuading to take on this project?
I said yes when I saw a treatment, and then when I saw the first movie. I'm a big football fan, and I always wanted to do a movie about football. That's the main reason, because I thought I had something to give and because I thought it was an incredible challenge. For me the challenge is not so much where to put the camera and how to shoot a ball. Give me a million dollars and five days and I'll do a commercial that will be amazing. For me the challenge here is to make it believable that you have two actors co-existing with all of these soccer stars and they look like they belong in that group. And then you see all of the moments that, as a fan, you don't normally see.
Like you never see what they do before a game, what happens in the locker room. And here you have it, you have Beckham and Ronaldo and my actor, and they're playing football in the locker room before the game. Getting on the team bus and all of that stuff, I think fans will really appreciate that.
Kuno Becker has admitted he's not much of footballer in reality, was that ever a concern for you?
It would be more of a problem if he was a terrible actor. Alessandro is as good as you can get, from a non-professional who likes playing football. And even for him its pretty hard. We have the same problems. I mean maybe it's a bit easier with Alessandro because he can do it, but because he's a perfectionist he'll want to do 20 takes and make sure it's right. With Kuno I put in a double and it's done in two. Everything has pros and cons. But I'll be using visual effects and things like that, and people will believe it.
Did you find any of the Real footballers displayed a natural acting talent?
They're all pretty natural, and better than I expected. I never gave them any lines to memorise or anything, I just told them to be themselves and to say whatever they would say. I only got an hour here and there from the players, and it mostly as the players who are not usually in movies or commercials because they were more eager, never having done it. So like with Sergio Ramos for example, I think it was his first time on a set. It was fun for him to come and do that. Someone like Ronaldo, he didn't want to know because when you get to that level you don't care. Why do you need to do this?
Can you give a clue as to the tone of this film?
If you look at trilogies the second one is usually the darkest because you can play. You've taken this wonderful thing that you've created, you trash it down and then you give it to somebody else to fix later.
In the story Santiago Munez is transferred from Newcastle United to Real Madrid, whereas in reality Michael Owen went the other way. Is that reflected in your film?
Yes, when Michael's transfer happened we thought we should get a camera crew to Newcastle right away to film him being introduced to the press while we cut to Madrid and see Santi being introduced to in Spain. Those are the kind of things that changed the script.
Have you taken inspiration from any previous sports movies? There aren't many great football movies to choose from, are there?
Escape To Victory – I loved that movie when I was a kid. You take a reference from a lot of sports movies, there's a lot of really great American ones like Friday Night Lights. But they're different, they're easier, because they recreate everything. With Friday Night Lights I think it took them a month just to shoot the final game. And everything is scripted and everything is perfect in the emotional build up to that final game. In this movie, I just found out yesterday what I have to play with for my final game, and I have six or seven days extra to turn it around. It's a bigger challenge.