Paolo Sorrentino on meeting David Byrne: “My behaviour was like a fan”

“Talking Heads was an obsession in my mind when I was young”

Director Paolo Sorrentino has recalled meeting Talking Heads frontman David Byrne before he filmed This Must Be The Place.

Starring Sean Penn and Frances McDormand, the 2011 drama film follows wealthy former rock star Cheyenne who, bored in his retirement, ventures out to find a Nazi war criminal who tormented his father.

The film, named after the Talking Heads song, was soundtracked by Byrne. He also makes an appearance as himself during a gig sequence.


Speaking to NME about meeting Byrne for the first time, Sorrentino said: “For me it was everything. Talking Heads was an obsession in my mind when I was young, but also now. Mostly when I was young, I did crazy things in order to go to the concerts of David Byrne around Italy.”

He added: “I had a very good friend, we knew everything about David Byrne and Talking Heads. So when I met him, I said to him everything about his life and things that he didn’t remember [to] David Byrne. And he said to me, ‘Stop being a fan and start being a normal person the way we speak to each other’. Because my behaviour was like a fan.

“I said [to Byrne], ‘You in 1979 went to Baltimore to do this, to do that.’ I knew everything.”

Sorrentino’s latest film is Hand Of God, an Italian drama film set in the 1980s which follows young Fabietto (Filippo Scotti) as his life in Naples is transformed by a family tragedy.

Alongside Scotti, the film stars Toni Servillo, Teresa Saponangelo, Luisa Ranieri, Massimiliano Gallo, Renato Carpentieri and Marlon Joubert.


Byrne recently sat down with Lorde for Rolling Stone’s ‘Musicians On Musicians’ series, where he recalled hearing her music for the first time.

“I heard your music ages ago,” Byrne said. “One of the things that struck me was how minimal it was.

“There was a lot going on in the vocal area with harmonies, but musically, it was stripped down – just what you need as far as beats and keyboards, and no more. Which completely knocked me out. I thought, ‘I could learn from that.’”

Hand Of God is in cinemas now and will be available to stream on Netflix from December 15.

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