Penelope Cruz and Emile Hirsch team up for the first time in Twice Born and deliver what may be the hottest sex scenes of the year. Gemma (Cruz) was a bright Italian college student when she met a young American photographer Diego (Hirsch). Drawn to his artistic flair they indulge in a heated love affair. In love, the two try to start a family but their lives are torn apart by the start of the Balkan War. Gemma returns to Italy, alone and with an infant son. Years later she plans a summer vacation with her distant teenage son, Pietro, to Sarajevo to show him where his father is from. During their trip, however, Gemma discovers a long-hidden secret that makes her question everything she ever knew.
We recently got to speak with actor Emile Hirsch on his latest big-screen projects Twice Born, Lone Survivor and the TV miniseries Bonnie and Clyde. He also talks about overcoming his nervousness to shoot sex scenes with Penelope Cruz and what he's most thankful for this year.
Fandango: What stood out the most about this film shoot from other films you've been on?
Emile Hirsch: The film had an astronomically high budget so we had a really a relaxed pace of shooting. We had time to get scenes right, keep shooting, it never really felt rushed. [Director] Sergio [Castellitto] was able to shoot the movie on his own terms.
Fandango: What's the meaning behind the title of this film?
Hirsch: I think Twice Born is about Diego's son, Pietro. He was born once but when he discovers the truth about who he is and where he comes from he's able to rediscover himself. Gemma interprets that as her son being born twice.
Fandango: We get to see a lot of Penelope Cruz in this film, if you know what I mean. How did you concentrate during all those steamy sex scenes?
Hirsch: I think we were both a little nervous. I think there were about four sex scenes. The director and his wife made sure that the environment felt right but they would egg us on. But you know, Penelope and I are friends. She has an absurd sense of humor that I share so we connected a lot through laughter even if we were in a situation that was kind of awkward.
Fandango: You do realize many men would envy you?
Hirsch: Well, yeah, probably. I mean Penelope is pretty darn sexy. There's no way around that.
Fandango: You go from romancing Penelope Cruz to portraying a real-life soldier in Lone Survivor. How do you embody that warrior spirit?
Hirsch: Well, it's impossible to embody that spirit. The training those guys go through is so extensive and hard that the best you can hope for is a pale imitation and you have to work your butt off to even do that. They're a special breed of warriors, people and men. That situation of combat is impossible to ever replicate but you can try your best and that's what we did. We tried to honor these soldiers that lost their lives in a respectful way.
I think the movie is pretty good. I was really happy with how Peter Berg directed it. You can see all the attention to detail and care that he put into it on-screen. All my brothers -- Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster and Taylor Kitsch -- were just fantastic. Everybody showed up to play ball.
Fandango: Does this movie have a sweet spot for you?
Hirsch: Yes, absolutely. I got to meet the Navy Seals and Danny Dietz's family who I portray. I got to know his family, friends and widow and you just have this love for a guy that you've never even met. You can only imagine how amazing he was, how loved he was and you realize that he must've really been somebody special. It takes a whole new meaning when it's a real story and I think Mark for sure and all the guys felt that.
Fandango: Many women tuned into A&E, History Channel and Lifetime over the weekend to watch you be a badass in Bonnie and Clyde. How much fun did you have shooting this classic tale?
Hirsch: It was just like cops and robbers. The movie is a lot of fun to watch, it's dark but entertaining. It has these weird moments of levity, which are kind of crucial to the story. It was just an adventure. You put your fedora on, you get your machine gun, shot gun, and you drive an old stick-shift car while being chased by cops. You just really feel like a big kid playing cops and robbers.
Fandango: Looking back at all of your success what are you most thankful for this year?
Hirsch: I'm most thankful for my little son Valor, who was born a month ago. He gets it hands down. It's one of those feelings where words just don't do it justice.
Twice Born opened in theaters December 6 and is now available on VOD.
Lone Survivor hits theaters January 10, 2014.