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Sylvain Reynard and Gabriel’s Inferno cast on bringing Passionflix film to life

FanSided Entertainment talked with the cast of Gabriel’s Inferno about the movie’s premiere and what it was like to bring Sylvain Reynard’s book to life.


Gabriel’s Inferno premieres on Passionflix on May 29, ushering in a new era for the streaming site and melting the hearts of fans all over the world. FanSided Entertainment had a chance to speak with director Tosca Musk and stars Melanie Zanetti and Giulio Berruti, along with author Sylvain Reynard, about the movie’s debut.

The overall scope of the film feels much bigger, and Musk acknowledged that Gabriel’s Inferno had a bigger budget than any other Passionflix film to date. More money in the budget allowed set designers to build almost every interior set seen in the film. Gabriel’s apartment, for example, was built to reflect how Musk pictured it to be, which allowed her to capture certain scenes exactly as she envisioned them.

The biggest piece of the puzzle was with the actors who would bring Julia Mitchell and Professor Gabriel Emerson to life. Reynard was deeply involved in casting and knew that the actors who would bring his characters to life had to be perfect.

“One of the things I mentioned to Tosca before we started casting was that the two leads have to be intelligent,” Reynard told FanSided. “They’re playing a professor and a graduate student and so that intelligence and passion for the subject matter of Dante studies has to come through. Also, particularly for Gabriel, he has to make the audience believe that he is completely devoted to Julia. The story is about longing as well as fulfillment and both Giulio and Melanie present that, not only with dialogue but with their facial expressions and body language.”

Zanetti’s deer in the headlights look, coupled with her ability to express exactly what’s going through Julia’s mind without saying a word, is part of what makes her the only woman who could do justice to Julia Mitchell. “I was struck by how she looked and moved differently in the orchard scene, versus the later scenes at the university,” noted Reynard. “She’s beautiful. She’s the perfect Julia. And as you saw in the film, she can be very fierce.”

Watch: Gabriel’s Inferno cast and director Tosca Musk talk Passionflix adaptation

Reynard noted that Berruti was able to show his incredible range as an actor.

Both Giulio and Melanie present the characters as layered and multi-dimensional, which is exactly what I wanted to see and what readers deserve.

“Giulio demonstrates quite a range as the Professor. We see him dealing with the aftermath of losing Grace. We see him angry, remorseful, etc,” Reynard said. Together, Zanetti and Berruti are a perfect match and their chemistry is what drives the film. “Both Giulio and Melanie present the characters as layered and multi-dimensional, which is exactly what I wanted to see and what readers deserve.”

It’s not surprising to learn that Zanetti and Berruti are nothing like their film counterparts. Zanetti was tasked with embracing Julia’s timid side, while gregarious Berruti had to bury his smile to become cold and intimidating. In fact, Musk had a trick to keep the actors focused on their characters and it all came down to two words: Rabbit and Gabriel.

“I have to give Tosca praise here,” Zanetti said. “We had a word, which was ‘rabbit’, that was to remind me of how demure [Julia] was, and that she was meek — not weak. For me personally I think I have more lion than rabbit, so Tosca did have to keep me in check.”

Musk agreed, describing Zanetti as “Julia on the inside” and she hinted that fans will see more of that side of Julia when they reach her story in Gabriel’s Redemption. While Zanetti had to suppress her inner lioness, Musk used the word “Gabriel” to keep Berruti in character. “Giulio’s this fun-loving, really great and warm and hugging person, which is not very much Gabriel in real life – at least not in Book I. He’d want to welcome everyone into his arms. I’d have to go up to him and be like, ‘a little less Giulio, a little more Gabriel’. So two words: Rabbit and Gabriel,” she said.

Berruti said his favorite scene from Part I was also his favorite scene to film. It’s the moment when Gabriel picks up Julia in the rain and goes to her apartment for the first time. “That entire sequence is where you can really see that there is…trouble coming,” he said with a smile. “Gabriel is this very sensitive man who doesn’t know how to deal with his feelings. And the only thing he knows is to shut down.”

Gabriel’s Inferno is the start of the journey for Zanetti, Berruti, Musk and the entire Passionflix team. Together they will bring The Gabriel Series to life, taking as much time as is needed to capture the essence of Reynard’s books. Musk noted that the plan had been to start filming Gabriel’s Rapture in June but the far-reaching impact of COVID-19 caused plans are now up in the air until it is safe to return to work.

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While Musk and her team continue working on The Gabriel Series in addition to the other books Passionflix has recently optioned, Reynard hints at what the future holds, including ideas for new books in the series: “I’m excited for filming of Gabriel’s Rapture to resume, when it’s safe to do so. And also for the filming of Gabriel’s Redemption. I’d like to see my other novels adapted to screen. And yes, I’ve put together ideas for a novel about Paul. And one about Rachel and Aaron. But at the moment, I’m writing something else. Something new. It’s in the beginning stages at the moment and so I can’t say much, but as always, I write with readers in mind…”

Reynard couldn’t be more thrilled about seeing The Gabriel Series come to life and there is no doubt in the author’s mind that this is just the beginning for Zanetti and Berruti.

“Melanie and Giulio are destined for great things. They will have long and successful careers. They’re very talented and they’re very hard workers.”

Gabriel’s Inferno is available now on Passionflix.

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