It’s 2018. I’m sitting in a dark theatre for a screening of Hereditary, not realizing in just under 2-1/2 hours, the movie would be a life-changing experience for me. It’s here that I was first introduced to actor Alex Wolff and since then I’ve been consistently blown away with each and every one of his performances. In Michael Sarnoski’s directorial debut, PIG, Wolff plays Amir, a young, slick truffle dealer who finds himself wrapped up with a truffle hunter (Nicolas Cage) who’s in search of his missing foraging pig after she is kidnapped.
For the release of the film, I had the immense pleasure of speaking with Alex Wolff, where we discussed everything from working so closely with Nicolas Cage, what the process was like in creating the character of Amir, and the difficulties of working with Brandy the pig.
Hi Alex, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today! PIG is one of my favorite movies of the year and I would love to know how you got involved in this project and what was it like working so closely with Nicolas Cage?
Alex Wolff: I’ve said this a million times but I really can’t emphasize it enough…I did an interview with [Nic] this morning and I got very, very emotional. Sometimes I get very emotional when I start talking about him. It’s random and it just sneaks up on me. He’s really the reason I started acting. Like, The Family Man I saw as a young kid and it really fucked me up. I fell in love with him and his performance, and then Adaptation and Raising Arizona. He was just in all my favorite movies. Then as a teenager, he was the thing that I would look to and reference whenever I would doubt myself about any bold choices I was making. He was my baseline of what was special and incredible and unique and artistry. He was the guy.
And then, the funny, crazy way the world works, I’ve auditioned 15 times for small indie movies that I didn’t have much interest in, but I just really wanted to work or I was excited, but not like this, where this is a magical thing. Michael had seen a couple of my movies and he offered me this movie. It was a magical thing that just kind of came on my desk with Nicolas Cage attached. And I don’t know if I’ve had experiences like that before or it’s just one in a million. And I just say that to highlight the idea that this was luck. I feel like I really tripped and lucked into this movie, and I’m not sure I’ll ever have an experience this lucky or this magical [again]. I felt like I found Nic at a time I really needed him in my life after [going through a] hard time. And I think he found me at a time, so it was a special intersection.
When you were preparing for the role of Amir, was your performance inspired by anything in particular, or was it something that you collaborated on with Michael?
Alex Wolff: Totally a joint effort, and [the character] was really amazing on paper. I just kind of had to get in there and not screw it up and just kind of mine it out. It’s funny, I did a lot of research about truffles and truffle dealing and the underground of it, and I saw the kind of personality that you need to survive in such a fickle, cruel business, one that’s not too far off from ours. I read this book called “Truffle Boy” that Ian Purkayastha wrote, and he seemed to be a young hotshot truffle dealer, and I felt little echoes of insecurity in his book, and so I took a lot from that. An odd thing was Amir really gravitates towards classical music. I read a couple of books about Beethoven, and young Beethoven was a problematic young guy and wanted to prove himself. So, I took a lot of that arrogance, but rubbing up against that façade was a deep-seated self-hatred and a lost sense of abandonment and a lack of ability to get stability. So my long-winded answer is I took a lot from those [Laughs].
Since the film centers around a stolen pig, I have to ask, what was it like working with Brandy the Pig?
Alex Wolff: I’ve been debating about how honest I’m going to be about Brandy. It’s a bit of a controversial topic [Laughs]. I mean, Brandy was a bit of a diva. I like Brandy and that’s fine…I think Nic is nicer about her. I don’t want to be negative about the pig, but she didn’t make things too easy for us. So I’ll say yes, you can go ahead and write it, that’s fine, I’m going to get in trouble [Laughs]. But Brandy ended up loving me most by far. I was the most standoffish ’cause I saw that’s what she needed. It was like we played a little dating game. I felt like we’d met on a dating app or something, and I was not responding to her, you know? She didn’t like anybody that tried to pet her or anything, so then I just kind of dismissed her, and then she would come up and *snorting noises*. I mean she’s obviously so cute, but I didn’t expect her to be such a diva. I’m an animal guy too, like I am that guy who wants to snuggle with the shark and an alligator. I’m like all about it. And I wanted to snuggle with Brandy too, but she played some games with us.
Lastly, what are you most excited to see come to life on the screen now that the film is done? Is there anything you hope people will take away from the film?
Alex Wolff: I think Nick’s whole performance, getting to see how beautifully he crafted it and getting to see how raw he is in it, and the things he laid on the line just for this small little movie. It just really inspired me. One day I want to have that kind of bravery that he does. As for viewers, I want them to take away whatever they want to take away. I don’t want to impose any certain takeaways but I hope that people are willing to see themselves in both of these people instead of dismissing them as what they are on the surface. And I hope that they can empathize and sympathize with both of them.
For more on PIG, check out our review here. PIG is now in theaters.