How 'The Survivor' Star Vicky Krieps Got Past the 'Wall' Ben Foster Put Up for Holocaust Drama (Video)

TIFF ’21: ”He was like a sponge, he had soaked up this horror and this energy…it was very scary,“ actress says

Foster lost nearly 60 pounds to film the scenes inside the concentration camps, then bulked up for the scenes in which he would fight as a boxer, including eventually landing a fight against the champ Rocky Marciano. And when Krieps met him, she describes that he was practically unrecognizable in more ways than one.

“When I met Ben, he was not Ben anymore,” she said. “We weren’t doing any small talk at all, and I’m standing there with my coffee, ‘Okay…’Meeting him as this survivor was really really something. I in my way had to dance with him.”

Both Levinson and Krieps were drawn to the story because of its contradictions of this man’s controversial legacy, but also because of their own family history with relatives inside the camps. And Levinson encouraged his actors to trust their instincts and see where their interactions would take them, including in one powerful scene that became much improved because of Krieps’ note on the script.

“She has to learn as the real woman would have step by step by step. Because we shot in continuity, I think helped for the piece,” Levinson said. “That’s what happens sometimes when you get two really talented actors who connect to the material.”

“I really just looked at his eyes, I was trying to go all into his eyes so I could go past this wall. It worked really well,” Krieps added. “Ben and I are similar in that we both work really instinctively. Not talk about it for hours but just go and see what happens.”

Check out the full interview with Vicky Krieps and Barry Levinson discussing “The Survivor” above.

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