Toronto Star


HER FATHER WAS PETER HALL AND FOR DECADES he was among England’s most celebrated directors. It’s hardly surprising that Rebecca Hall is now taking up the director’s role, making her directorial debut with Passing. An acclaimed stage and screen actress, Hall’s eclectic film resumé ranges from Godzilla vs. Kong and Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige to the horrifying Christine. With Passing, which premiered at Sundance before its October theatrical run, Hall adapted a 1929 novel, coproducing and directing the drama about a Black woman “passing” as white. The film stars Ruth Negga ( Ad Astra, Loving) and Tessa Thompson ( Creed, Thor: Ragnarok). “This was a very long and personal, complicated journey. Honestly, I came across the book about 15 years ago, right at a time in my life when I was unravelling aspects of my own family’s history regarding racial passing. My grandfather was Black and passed for white in Detroit,” Hall revealed. “That legacy got passed on to my mother [singer-actress Maria Ewing] and me. I was thinking about it a lot but didn’t have words for it. Then someone handed me Nella Larsen’s book and said, ‘There is historical precedent for this. You know that there is a world and this book might help you understand a bit.’” Hall was flabbergasted. “So I read the book and was really blown away by it. I adapted it pretty quickly that week. But I didn’t know that I was going to make it then. I just was really struck by the writing and the simplicity of it. From that moment, I yearned to try and make a movie that had that level of pared-down simplicity but that held so much counterintuitive complexity as a result. But it took me 15 years to get it made.” Now that she’s finally done it, Hall hopes to do it again. “Yes, it feels like the completion of a long-held, quiet belief that it was what I really wanted to do. And I have wanted to direct a film forever. “I’ve always been fascinated by film and filmmaking, and I’ve spent a lifetime watching people make films. I’m never gonna stop acting. I love acting; it’s a huge part of my life.”