The Venice Film Festival ended with a bang of star power in the form of Mick Jagger and Donald Sutherland, who journeyed to the Lido on Saturday to promote the closing film from director Giuseppe Capotondi, The Burnt Orange Heresy.
The two stars quickly turned political when they were asked to comment on a peaceful demonstration that overtook the red carpet in front of Venice’s main venue, the Palazzo del Cinema, earlier in the day. Hundreds of activists took to the festival to protest climate change, anti-immigration policies and Venice’s cruise ship problem.
“I’m absolutely behind that,” said Jagger unequivocally of the protest. “I’m glad they’re doing that because they’re the ones who are going to inherit the planet.”
Jagger blasted Trump for pulling out of the Paris Agreement. “We are in a very difficult situation at the moment, especially in the U.S., where all the environmental controls that were put in place — that were just about adequate — have been rolled back by the current administration so much that they are being wiped out,” he said.
“The U.S. should be the world leader in environmental control but now it has decided to go the other way,” Jagger added.
Sutherland concurred. “Mick is right when he said the reforms that were instituted during the Obama administration were barely adequate, and now they’re being torn about.”
“It’s the same in Brazil and they will be torn apart in England,” said Sutherland of administrations under Jair Bolsonaro and Boris Johnson.“They have to fight harder,” said Sutherland of his support of the red carpet protestors. “And they have to get as much support as they can among all of you.”
“When you’re my age, when you’re 85 years old and you have children and grandchildren, you will leave them nothing if we don’t vote those people out of office in Brazil in London in Washington,” continued Sutherland. “They are ruining the world. We have contributed to the ruination of it, but they are ensuring it.”
On another subject, acting versus touring, Jagger said that although they’re both ways of performing, there are big differences. “One, if you make a mistake on the stage, if you fall over, you don’t get a retake. If you fall over in the film, it’s fine,” he joked.
“It’s a different part of your brain that is activated in acting, which I do very rarely,” he added. “I enjoy doing it.”
“As an actor your role and part is to put on a mask,” he said. “You may want to put on several masks. Or you may want to take some of them off and reveal some of yourself. As a writer you want to create lots of illusions and lots of characters. I guess that’s some kind of mask.”Jagger said what attracted to him about his role in the Burnt Orange Conspiracy, playing a fabulously wealthy art dealer and collector, was the fine line between truth and falsehoods, and that the audience never really knows who is lying. “It’s very much of this modern dialogue,” he said about how current politicians operate.
Jagger added, “We are going through a very strange time at the minute. And when you live at a strange time you know it’s a strange time but you don’t know what’s going to happen. Values are different.There’s more polarization and less civility.”
On “civility,” a loaded term in the U.S., he said, “I’m not sure I was always against civility, but when you see it now the incivility of political life which we see in so many countries including my own, especially this last week— and in other countries, particularly the U.S.— when you see this, it’s a bit of a sea change from what you were used to,” referencing Johnson and Trump’s continued public attacks against critics. “I don’t mean that manners are everything. But the combination of all these things, where it’s going to lead us,” he added, is “polarization, rudeness and lying.”
Sutherland, who plays the reclusive painter Jerome Debney, called Orange Heresy, “the best script I’d read in 20 years.” Claes Bang plays an ultra-ambitious art critic who is hired by Jagger’s collector to interview and secure a painting from Debney, who hasn’t showed his work to anyone in decades. Elizabeth Debicki co-stars as Bang’s American love interest.
Bang commented on the role of criticism today. “I fucking hate getting bad reviews but it’s part of the business,” he said. “Everything is sort of moving in that sense.”
Jagger spoke about his own role as an art dealer and collector: “He wants to hype his gallery up. The art world has all these, not just artists but people that hype the artists and make their art more valuable than other artists. How does this work? A lot of time it’s hyped by dealers. Why not? The artists then gets paid and everyone gets more money.”
The rock legend said that it wasn’t a role he readily identified with. “I’m not really a collector. I throw things away,” he said. “I buy things and then lose them. I’m a completely hopeless collector. I’m the complete opposite.”
The Burnt Orange Heresy premieres out-of-competition Saturday night in Venice.
This article originally appeared in The Hollywood Reporter.