Albert Nobbs: Director Rodrigo García on Gender-Bending

Albert Nobbs opens in New York and Los Angeles December 21st with a nationwide release January 27th.



The director says that he found the themes of the story especially appealing. ‘One of the main themes is people’s dreams and what they want for themselves, their true ambitions and their hopes,’ he explains. ‘Albert, like all the characters in the script, wants more for herself, and most of all, the characters want to be their best selves. A lot of them are trapped with low ceilings over their heads, masks and fake identities.’ ‘This is set in late nineteenth century Dublin where poverty and the threat of poverty had a huge impact,’ he continues. ‘You could find yourself on the street within weeks of losing your job or losing a position. But it still feels contemporary: how can you find a way to be yourself? Living in secrecy and having to please others in order to survive, that has a universal connection for people.’

Period Films

‘I love period movies but I’ve never really thought about myself as a director of one,’ says Garcia. ‘When Glenn showed me the script I thought that it had so many themes, was well dramaticised and was funny, but we did think, “How are we going to shoot this so that it would have its own look and its own tone and is not just a period look? How would it have the ‘Albert Nobbs’ look, whatever that may be?”

‘You want to try and shy away from something that is too stuffy, but on the other hand you don’t want to go too far the other way and make it too modern so that it becomes like a music video. One of the reasons I wanted to work with Michael McDonough was that he can find a new yet subtle way of looking at something.’ McDonough and Garcia opted for what the latter describes as ‘a contemporary feel but still believable for the period.’ He explains, “You need to maximize your resources to make the piece as rich as possible. The movie is shot in a widescreen format and that does give you a bigger dimension. You put your money in a few key scenes that are larger scale, like the big party scene, and then our exteriors, which let the story breathe.’

‘When you start thinking that you’ve been a while in the hotel and it’s all quite contained, you come in with bigger things that you can afford. That gives it some scope. The important thing for me though is that actors always take pressure away. People always say, “Do you feel pressure working with such accomplished actors?” But really the opposite is true, it takes pressure away from me. And alongside Glenn we have some really amazing characters and wonderful actors.’