Eugenio Mira may be a relatively new name in American cinema, but the Spanish director and composer has received international acclaim from “The Birthday,” “Agnosia” and his most recent work “Grand Piano.” This original thriller features Mira’s close friend Elijah Wood as the protagonist.
In an exclusive interview with WSN, Mira and Wood spoke about their relationship and experiences filming “Grand Piano,” a suspense film about a brilliant composer (Elijah Wood) who is still recovering from a breakdown during his last performance when a mysterious voice (John Cusack) orders him to play a flawless concert to keep himself and his wife alive.
The duo first met at the film festival Fantastic Fest in 2011.
“I met [Wood] in the most incredible environment and surrounded by the most excellent and exclusive film people in the world,” Mira said. “I was there with three Spanish directors. Nacho Vigalondo, one of the three, had been emailing Elijah and we all just had a secret meeting. We sung karaoke and drank together, and I just formed this great impression of Elijah.”
Mira ran into Wood again at 2013’s Fantastic Fest and they discussed “Grand Piano.” After reading the script, Mira felt strongly that Wood was meant for the lead role. His producers sent the script to Wood, who was enthusiastic about the project.
“I read it immediately because I wanted to work with [Mira],” Wood said. “I was so excited at the prospect that this fun that we had shared at this festival could actually manifest, and being able to work together was a very exciting prospect.”
Mira and Wood also spoke about the framework of producing “Grand Piano” overseas — mostly in Barcelona and Catalonia, Spain — and about Cusack’s involvement.
“[Cusack] was incredibly devoted to the project,” Mira said. “We’d hang out with him and he’d have great admiration for Elijah.”
Wood agreed that Cusack was indispensable for the film.
“He had great ideas,” Wood said. “He was a great collaborator. It’s an incredible thing for us because we grew up watching him in movies and he’s part of the fabric of the cinema that we grew up in.”
Cusack had limited time available to film “Grand Piano,” but the time he spent on set in Spain proved to be a crucial factor in the final product of the movie, Wood said.
“He recorded all his dialogue in a week, and we started to realize that based off of John’s dialogue we needed to change things around,” Wood said. “We were all physically there so we could change things around. What he ended up doing for the film was amazing.”
Wood added a few words of admiration for Mira, confident that the director is a cinematic voice to keep an eye out for in future years.
“There are so many great things in the works for this man,” Wood said.
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, March 5 print edition. Mohamed Hassan is a staff writer. Email him at [email protected]