Big Bang Theory’s Simon Helberg on Hitting the High Notes for Florence Foster Jenkins
“The idea of finding joy in what you’re doing, that’s something everybody can understand,” says Meryl Streep of her latest inspiring film about music and the power of dreams in Florence Foster Jenkins.
Starring in the titular role, Meryl Streep sings to life “Florence Foster Jenkins,” along with Hugh Grant and Simon Helberg, the ear-busting movie opens into the last year of the real life Florence Foster Jenkins, a wealthy patron of music and philanthropist whose passion to sing does not exactly match her vocal prowess. Supported by her devoted husband St. Clair Bayfield (Grant) and accompanist Cosme McMoon (Helberg), Florence pursues her dream of becoming an opera singer despite her horrible voice.
Apart from world renowned and admired actors Streep and Grant, director Stephen Frears has also cast Helberg in the movie, completing an impressive chord of lead characters in “Florence Foster Jenkins.” Helberg, best known as TV’s Howard Wolowitz in the hit sitcom “Big Bang Theory” as the fourth member of the geek quartet, who in real life is a talented concert pianist, also gives life to Florence’s real life accompanist McMoon.
In recent interviews, Helberg revealed that playing Jenkins’ long-suffering pianist is highly inspiring, “When I read the script I ran the gamut of emotions. I laughed hysterically, I cried. There’s a purity to Florence, there’s no cynicism, it’s all for the music.”
“But Florence doesn’t have any sense of rhythm or pitch, so Meryl would intentionally stumble all over the place and I would have to follow her on the piano,” Helberg further says. “It was a little like tandem rock climbing, a sort of mirroring exercise. Her job was insanely hard, to be almost right but just off enough that it makes you cringe.”
True to his character, Helberg is also a talented musician, son of actress Sandy Helberg and casting director Harriet Helberg, he finished his studies at the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts in New York, where he perfected his thespian and musical talents, and reaching concert-pianist level.
“Simon was a genius piece of casting,” says Grant who is extremely impressed with his acting and musical talents. “He was perfect for the role and on top of that he’s a concert standard pianist. I just hope people realise that those really are his hands playing the piano,” vouches Grant.
“Florence Foster Jenkins” opens August 24 in cinemas nationwide from OctoArts Films International.