Website last updated: 7-5-2024

Angelica Zollo: Interview with Barbara Broccoli's daughter

By: Lluis Abbou Planisi
Angelica Zollo interview Barbara Broccoli daughter
The sun shines through two tall windows in a living room somewhere in New York City. Through one of them I can see the trees of the Big Apple. Angelica Zollo is in front of the camera, shyly asking me if I mind if she drinks some coffee. Her mother is Barbara Broccoli and her father is Frederick Zollo, both of them well-known theatre and movie producers.

To say that Angelica Zollo grew up on movie sets and behind-the-scenes is a no-brainer. Whilst Angelica grew up in London, she graduated from The Gallatin School of Individualized Study in New York. She’s smart – only 16% of the 79,462 applicants to the Gallatin are accepted – and talented – in 2018, she won the Best Director award at the Brooklyn Art Festival and the Best Independent Feature Film at the Taormina Film Festival, in Italy.

Trauma is a Time Machine, Zollo’s first feature film as a screenwriter and director, premiered in 2018.

It is a black and white character piece about the journey of self-destruction of Helen, a traumatized rape victim. It was distributed through Vertical Entertainment. Los Angeles Times described the movie as “a courageously personal, experimental piece, tapping into a raw emotional state not often rendered on screen with such depth and intelligence”. Over a FaceTime call, Zollo explained that “80% of the rapes occur by people close to the victim, whether by a family member or their partner or a friend. I wanted to write about that betrayal.” The film is unconventional informed by Zollo’s aesthetic decisions:

“I think black and white offers a lot. You can play around with textures, contrasts, lighting and different things. But also, because I think that was how everything was in Helen’s head.”

This also includes the old-fashioned Academy aspect ratio.

Augie Duke in Trauma Is a Time Machine
Augie Duke as Helen in Trauma Is a Time Machine. Copyright © 2018 Vertical Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Initially, the violation itself is not seen; only heard while the screen is completely black. “I spent a lot of time thinking about it. A lot of productions in which I have seen rapes, these are shown either in a very glamorous way, and that’s not how it happens, or in a super graphic way. I wanted people to feel uncomfortable and I was looking for a way to do it, so I thought that the sound with a black screen would make it very visceral. Then I tried it with my editor, the amazing Tom Vogt, and it worked,” says Zollo.

Augie Duke in Trauma Is a Time Machine
Augie Duke as Helen in Trauma Is a Time Machine. Copyright © 2018 Vertical Entertainment. All rights reserved.

I ask Angelica how she started writing the script for the film:

“To be completely candid, I had a similar experience with someone very close to me. It was something that was on my mind. And it was interesting because we shot this movie before the #MeToo movement and people said it was great because the film was out and so was the #MeToo. They asked me how I knew. And I was like «Know what? This has been going on for centuries and, unfortunately, I have not met a woman who has not had some kind of experience», so I wanted to do this for them and, selfishly, it was very therapeutic for me.”

And she adds with a nervous smile, “The filming was surreal. Some days I would hide because I didn’t want to cry on the set. When something like this happens, you don’t have a roadmap and you just try to survive. Especially if it is someone close to you who does it because then, suddenly, they are gone. And all you can think about is the good stuff, how fun and nice they were, all the places you went together and you’re not sure if that’s okay. Can I miss that person after what happened? Then you start drinking to distract yourself and to make you forget, or that’s what I did. And then self-harm, and that’s about being in control, that’s a cry for help.”

Augie Duke in Trauma Is a Time Machine
Augie Duke as Helen in Trauma Is a Time Machine. Copyright © 2018 Vertical Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Music is crucial to this film. In fact, Angelica Zollo began by directing music videos: “I am always up to do whatever it is when it comes to music. I love music!” Angelica says that she “knew that the songs were very important for the tone of the film. And, also, to put the audience in Helen’s mental state, and for the nostalgia since Helen is trapped in this time machine for a better return.” The final song, ‘In My Head’ was written and sung by Zollo. ‘All I Desire’, by Rosa Pullman, is repeated several times throughout the eighty minute movie because “she is also stuck in her own routine, every day is the same, going back and forth in time.” In July 2020 Angelica released Cover Me, an emotionally rich album of covers “to makes us feel a little less alone” recorded between her home in New York and London.

Augie Duke in Trauma Is a Time Machine
Augie Duke as Helen in Trauma Is a Time Machine. Copyright © 2018 Vertical Entertainment. All rights reserved.

It is available to purchase and download online through the website Bandcamp. CoverMe includes Amy Winehouse’s “Wake Up Alone” and David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” performed by Angelica herself. 15% of the proceeds of the album are donated to the Rape and Incest Network and another 15% to The National Alliance of Mental Illness. These are the two organizations Zollo feels would have helped Helen and have, indeed, helped thousands of real-life Helens.

Augie Duke in Trauma Is a Time Machine
Augie Duke as Helen in Trauma Is a Time Machine. Copyright © 2018 Vertical Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Augie Duke’s interpretation as Helen is powerful: suffering a form of PTSD, she drowns her sorrows in alcohol and showers in her underwear. Zollo explains that it’s “not because Augie didn’t want to get naked, but because Helen feels bad about her own body.” Duke’s convincing performance is due to her natural and powerful interpretation. Angelica is proud: “She is just super talented, what I put her through!”. Then there’s Joan, a human statue played by Ella Loudon who Angelica describes as “sensational”. Zollo tells me, “For a long time, I was obsessed with these human sculptures that you see in a park. They fascinated me but I also thought they were a bit weird. I was wondering what led someone to do that. Do they have a daytime job and they dress up in their spare time? So, I wrote this character of a human statue. Someone who hides under a mask. And I wrote it for Ella. I have known her since I was 12 years old and I always wanted to work with her. However, all her dialogue in Helen’s room was improvised. I gave her almost nothing else but to stand there and smoke a fag. I can’t take any credit for that!”

Ella Loudon in Trauma Is a Time Machine
Ella Loudon as Joan in Trauma Is a Time Machine. Copyright © 2018 Vertical Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Ella Loudon is the daughter of Daniel Craig. Angelica Zollo is part of the Bond family. Or rather, James Bond is part of Angelica’s family. Her grandfather, Albert R. (Cubby) Broccoli, was the visionary movie producer who saw potential in Ian Fleming’s spy novels and in 1962 co-produced the first film, Dr. No (1962). Angelica’s mother is Cubby’s youngest daughter, his only child with his third wife Dana Broccoli.

Angelica says that she “could talk for hours about my mother. I admire her and her work so much.” She is equally proud of her father, “He is the smartest person I know.”

Frederick Zollo is the son of Carmen F. Zollo, himself a noted Broadway producer. Born in 1953 in Woburn, Massachusetts, his Broadway producing credits are remarkable: On Golden Pond (1979), the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama ‘night, Mother (1983), Hurlyburly (1984), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (1984) starring Theresa Merritt, Our Country’s Good (1991), Death and The Maiden (1992), the acclaimed two-parts play Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes (1993) starring Jeffrey Wright, King Hedly II (2001) with Viola Davis, Private Lives (2002) starring the late Alan Rickman, Tony winner Frozen (2004), The Farnsworth Invention (2007), The Championship Season (2011), Lucky Guy (2013), Orphans (2013) and Casa Valentina (2014), among many others. He was co-executive producer with Martin Scorsese on 1993’s Naked In New York, directed by Daniel Algrant starring Eric Stoltz, Tony Curtis, Kathleen Turner and Timothy Dalton.

In 2002, Barbara Broccoli co-produced, with her husband Frederick, the musical of Cubby’s 1968 film based on Ian Fleming’s children’s book Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. They also worked together on the 2009 stage production of A Steady Rain starring Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman, the multi-award-winning stage musical of the 2007 film Once (2011), Love Letters (2014) and The Band’s Visit (2017). Barbara Broccoli has also produced other movies outside the Bond world, most recently the 2020 thriller The Rhythm Section starring Jude Law and Blake Lively and the extremely rewarding romantic drama Films Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (2017), about the tragic life of Hollywood sensation Gloria Grahame played by Annette Bening alongside Jamie Bell. A theatre aficionado, Broccoli has also captained London’s West End and New York’s Broadway productions such as Othello (2016) starring David Oyelowo in the title role and Daniel Craig as Iago, The Kid Stays in The Picture (2017), Ear For Eye (2018) starring Lashana Lynch and Pheobe Waller Bridge’s stage adaptation of her TV hit, Fleabag (2019).

Cubby died in 1996, but not before giving control of the longest-running franchise to his daughter Barbara Broccoli and his stepson Michael G. Wilson with the 1995 release of GoldenEye. Wilson and Broccoli share the same mother, Dana. Since then, the franchise has gone from strength to strength. In 2005, Barbara casted unknown actor Daniel Craig as Bond and his tenure as 007 has grossed $3.2 billion worldwide. Her extended family is extensive: Cubby’s two children from his second wife Nedra, Tony Broccoli and Christina, known as Tina Broccoli, have had various involvement with the film series with Tina’s daughter, Heather Callow, now involved in the art and publicity department. Michael Wilson’s eldest son, David Wilson, is involved with the marketing and ancillary development side of the business.

As soon as I asked Angelica if she would follow in her family’s footsteps, she laughed and spent a moment silently thinking.

“I am so proud of it. I am so proud of my mum and of what my grandfather built, and of my uncle Michael and my cousin Gregg [Michael G. Wilson’s youngest son]. A lot of my family is part of it. You know, growing up around all these insane actors and writers and special effects... It's just crazy what they do. She can’t ever take compliments, but my mother is my hero. What she does is just incredible. It’s definitely something I love and I am proud of. I love the movies and I especially like what Daniel [Craig] has done. I’ve done little jobs and I’ve spent a lot of time with my mom watching but I can’t ever do what they have done. It’s a huge thing and it’s pretty intimidating. I want to do my own thing and [Barbara Broccoli] has been super supportive but who knows, maybe one day!”

I couldn’t control myself, so I asked if she has seen No Time To Die now due for release in September 2021 after having suffered a several pushbacks because of the COVID pandemic. “I have,” she nods whilst laughing juicily and almost trying to disappear from the camera angle.

“It [No Time To Die] is so, so good. I am a huge fan of [director] Cary Fukunaga and I love everything [Swedish director of photography] Linus Sandgren has done. It’s so beautiful – shot in Jamaica, one of my favourite places... I went there and it was insane”.

I don’t ask her anything else. I am aware that Blofeld has SPECTRE agents everywhere and I don’t want any trouble. At this point, I just get lost talking about James Bond. I mentioned that I first met her mum in 2017 when she came to Mallorca, along with Michael G. Wilson and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) Bond Girl Britt Ekland. They were on my Spanish island for the opening night of the Atlàntida Film Festival in honour of film director Guy Hamilton, who had recently passed away.

Angelica loves movies: her list of favourites is rich and long.

She spoke about one with great enthusiasm, In a Lonely Place with iconic Gloria Grahame and Humphrey Bogart: “If you haven’t seen it, drop everything you’re doing and watch it. [Laughs] Well, maybe don’t drop everything, but watch it. Do it. Seriously.”

I also asked her who Angelica Zollo was. “God, wow! Mmmm. I do not know. I definitely love art and try to do as many things as possible and meet people and create things together. And I like to feel that I form a family when I am creating art with other people. Mmm… I don’t know who I am Lluis, I’m still working it out!”, she says before bursting out laughing. Angelica Zollo told me that she wanted Trauma is a Time Machine to be raw, honest and real. Zollo has succeeded. Angelica Zollo is one of those names that you must remember because whatever she does, it will be worth your time.

Photo on top:
Angelica Zollo in London. Photo by Eric Giovon. All rights reserved.

Original text. Copyright © 2021 Lluis Abbou Planisi. All rights reserved.



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