Netflix’s survival drama, based on a true story, ‘Society of the Snow,’ takes the audience to the harsh and inhabitable snow-covered peaks of the Andes, where the passengers of Flight 571 find themselves after their plane crashes. The film is emotionally intense for the audience, but what makes it more powerful is the performances of the actors, who inhabit the physical, emotional, and psychological aspects of the story. Considering that they portray the roles of the people stranded for 72 days, it might make you wonder how they attained the physicality their role demanded. SPOILERS AHEAD
The Actors Went Through Considerable Weight Loss for the Movie
When director J. A. Bayona set out to make ‘Society of the Snow,’ he wanted it to appear as realistic as possible, almost documentary-like in nature. The film was shot chronologically, which allowed the actors to experience the events in the same order as they’d happened to the passengers of Flight 571, which is also when they slowly started to lose weight in accordance with how far they’d come in the story. Reportedly, the actors lost more than 20 kilos for their roles by the end of the filming.
In the movie, the characters face starvation as they don’t have anything to eat for days. The actors, too, stopped eating for a while and were later put on a strict diet by the nutritionists who made sure that despite losing weight, the actors were healthy. To make the weight loss look more dramatic, the actors were first asked to put on some weight at the start, and as the regimen for losing it started, the actors became competitive and would directly hit the gym after the shooting was wrapped for the day to lose more weight.
Weighing in on the situation, actor Enzo Vogrincic, who plays the narrator Numa Turcatti, revealed that it was particularly difficult for him to gain weight in the beginning because he’s vegan. At the beginning of the filming, he weighed 64 kilos (141 pounds) and gained six kilos, reaching 70 kilos (154 pounds) before the time came to start losing weight. He called the process of gaining weight more difficult than losing it because he had to force himself to eat even when he didn’t want to. Later, he’d have to survive on a can of tuna and a tangerine a day. By the end of the filming, he’d lost so much weight that he weighed only around 46 kg (103 pounds).
Vogrincic said that the process was “very well controlled and supervised,” and even though it was difficult at first, the cast eventually took to it and even became competitive to see who would lose the most weight. The environment of the filming location provided the necessary impetus. To keep things realistic, Bayona filmed part of the movie in the snow-laden Sierra Nevada in Granada, Spain. The actors spent about four months there, “cold and hungry all the time.” For two days, they went to the Andes, where the crash survivors had spent more than two months. This allowed the actors to get a sense of the situation and really lean into all the things that were required of them.
Vogrincic revealed that the process of filming was so grueling at one point that he fell sick with fever and pneumonia. He was advised to leave the mountain and go down to a lower altitude to recuperate. However, he decided to push through, especially when he saw how his sickness gave him the appearance of what his character must have looked like. The actor went into the shoot with “red eyes and swollen face” and joked that he wished he had been sick the entire time so that it would look more realistic in the movie. Considering all this, it is clear that the actors and the rest of the crew went into the filming with stoicism and dedication, which allowed them to elevate the story and give it the respect and consideration it deserved.