Streaming service Passionflix has struck gold with the Gabriel‘s Inferno film series based on the popular books by New York Times bestselling author Sylvain Reynard. As I have mentioned several times, the adaptation of Gabriel’s Inferno was my main reason for sticking with my Passionflix membership. In my honest opinion its by far one of the best adaptations available on the app. The first series of films based on book one were released in May, July, and November of last year. Gabriel’s Rapture: Part One completed filming earlier this year and the was released a few days ago.
We got the chance to have a chat with lead stars Melanie Zanetti and Giulio Berruti who play Julianne Mitchell and Professor Gabriel Emerson to talk about what it was like returning to their characters after the pandemic shut down production, the importance of therapy in relationships, and that ending of Part one.
Immediately when the interview began, we were reminded about why fans love these two actors so much. Their energy is infectious, and we were laughing right from the start. Giulio kicked things off by talking about how appreciative he and Melanie are of all the fans who continue to support them and the Gabriel’s Inferno films.
“I’m very happy and pleased to be here for all the fans and all the people that love the movie, love the series, love the characters and of course appreciate our jobs.” He went on to say “We love when people express their appreciation its very important because at the end of the day, we put everything in it. Everything we have, our mind, our health. So, when someone says ‘bravo’ it’s like thank God.” It was so nice to hear that because we know how important it is for fandom to feel appreciated especially when it comes to a book series, they hold so dear.
We’ve all been living through this pandemic for the last year and some months now. Multiple industries were hit hard by it including the entertainment industry. Gabriel’s Rapture: Part One was in the middle of filming at the time, so production had to shut down. That brought us to our first question of whether or not they found it easier to shoot the scenes in Italy with a limited number of people around once things started to open back up again.
“Art is forever. Art will save us all the time.”
Giulio who lives in Italy where they were hit tremendously hard by COVID-19 told us “Most of the time we work in a closed environment, so it was pretty much the same. But it was definitely something different. The city of Florence is full of tourists 365 per year, so it was quite strange to see and kind of sad somehow to see these beautiful places fully empty.” He went on to say “From one side I was thinking ‘Wow this pandemic really changed the world.’ But, on the other side I was like ‘Wow this is good.’ I’m so lucky that I can actually enjoy this square, or that monument.”
This led Giulio into a memory of his time on set with Melanie. He talked about the day they filmed the gelato scene. Giulio remembers laughing with Melanie between takes of them eating cornstarch made up to look like the gelato Gabriel and Julia were sharing in the square. He also remembers watching her walk around surrounded by the beautiful artwork. He ended this trip down memory lane by saying something we can all agree on. “Art is forever. Art will save us all the time. Melanie continued the memory by saying “Yes. it was so beautiful. At times it was eerie because you’d have the streets to yourself but also just magical and it will never happen again. I’ll never be at the Duomo with no one else in the square.”
Throughout the interview Giulio and Melanie constantly cracked jokes with each other and it was obvious how well they work together. That offscreen chemistry translates well onscreen and that’s important especially with all of the intimate scenes Julia and Gabriel have. We wanted to know if it was difficult for Melanie and Giulio to find their rhythm with each other again after being away from each other for so long. As Melanie explained, it had been over a year since they last saw each other but according to what her answer was, the two of them had no problems falling right back into their characters.
“I feel like we were just straight back into it. I think when you’ve made a connection with someone and you really trust them and you’re on the same page, in some ways its like it had been a long time and in other ways it was like ‘Oh my gosh we’re right back in this.’ Lots of time had passed and no time had passed.”
Giulio had a different take on things and his answer was very relatable. “We were so tired from the first experience that we had before the pandemic because this movie was very different from every other experience that I had because it was so concentrated. 200 pages where you are in every page with that person in front of you. It’s such a huge amount of work and a huge amount of effort and energy. When we started filming back after the pandemic we were like ‘Okay this is going to be great, don’t worry let’s do it.’ After the first day we were like ‘Oh my God this is too much I cannot take it. We still have to go like eight weeks!”
Melanie agreed with Giulio and added “Its very dialogue heavy and we’re pretty much in every scene and I think when you haven’t been filming for awhile and then you come out of this pandemic time and then back into this, its huge. Your days are big, you’re in every scene and there’s a lot of emotional content and you have to be so present and there.”
Now, we have never filmed a movie before but, we could relate to both Melanie and Giulio’s answers. A lot of us spent time working from home so it was an adjustment getting back into regular work mode once things started to reopen. I for one am still missing rocking my leggings around the house and being able to wake up a little later since I didn’t have to hop in my car and sit in traffic for 30 minutes.
On the topic of chemistry, Giulio gave us an additional response that we really liked. “Besides the great chemistry we naturally have, its extremely difficult to be in those scenes where you have a lot of people around you and those are mainly intimate scenes. Intimate in the sense of not necessarily a body intimacy but also a soul intimacy. You need to focus on thoughts and experiences and emotions that are not necessarily positive because you need to experience what the character is going through in that specific moment and that takes so much energy and focus. We always had to be fully present.”
Like Melanie and Giulio said, the Gabriel‘s Inferno series is very dialogue heavy. That’s why we think the approach director Tosca Musk took with adapting the books works so well. As we told you in our review of Gabriel’s Rapture: Part One, there are four books in this series.
Gabriel’s Inferno was split into three parts and that’s what’s being done with Gabriel’s Rapture as well. We love that Tosca has done this with the books because we can get so much more this way. Melanie agrees with us. “I think the response from the fans says it all. I think the feedback has been resoundingly positive for the breakup into pieces because people feel like they’re getting more of the book and in the end, it’s going to feel more like a limited series. I think that Tosca knows her audience and she knows that they want to experience in film form, as much of the book and what they envisaged in their minds.”
One of the things we love about the relationship between Julia and Gabriel is that they encourage each other to go to therapy in order to work out their past traumas. Julia is dealing with trauma involving her ex-boyfriend Simon, and Gabriel has a history of drug addiction as well as a lot of anger and grief to work through. Melanie loves this as well. “I think that is one of the healthiest parts of all the books- that there’s the acknowledgement that they’re both carrying trauma and therapies really healthy. It just shows a kind of maturity in their investment of their relationship that if they both want it to work and to have longevity, they both need to deal with their stuff.”
One of my favorite scenes in Gabriel’s Rapture: Part One happens between Gabriel and his adopted father Richard played by Malachy Cleary. Other than Julia, he seems to be the only other person who can get through to him.
Giulio gave us a bit of insight as to why he thinks that is. “First of all, I loved that scene. Malachy was very cool. I love to work with him, so we have to give credit to Malachy. I think that no one can know you better than your parents. Even though they might not be your real parents but like the people who raise you, the people who get you through very important stages of your growing process. They know exactly what’s inside your heart without you having to say anything. I think that Malachy is playing that sort of character, the old, experienced man who sees it all who is now trying to give Gabriel good advice because he knows that he’s very difficult to approach sometimes.”
Getting to interview Melanie and Giulio was a wonderful experience. Before ending it, I had to mention that ending of Gabriel’s Rapture: Part One with our not so favorite person Christa “fucking” Peterson (Margaux Brooke). Every one of the films in the Gabriel series ends on a good cliffhanger that leaves us wanting more. I had to find out if Melanie and Giulio know where each film will end when they shoot them. “We find out pretty close to when you guys find out.” Said Melanie.
She went on to say “I think I had guesses where it might, but I think it depends on the edit as it evolves. Tosca and Margie said that they start feeling out where it feels the most natural and the strongest point to finish it. I think this one was clever because it has the foreboding of what’s to come with the Christa Peterson stuff. That’s one of the last decisions that’s made. Where is the right point that it leaves people with enough anticipation but has told enough of the story to that point.”
We could not agree more. The ending of Gabriel’s Rapture: Part One was perfect and now we want part two already.