Ahead of its premiere, David Cronenberg and the stars of his latest film, including Robert Pattinson, Julianne Moore, John Cusack, Sarah Gadon, Mia Wasikowska, and Evan Bird gathered to discuss their latest collaboration, Maps to the Stars. A Cannes veteran, Cronenberg debuted his Don DeLillo adaptation, Cosmopolis, at the prestigious festival two years ago and in 1996 he received the Special Jury Prize for Crash, as well as bringing Spider and A History of Violence here.
Cronenberg’s films often deal with detached personalities and societal disconnects so it is surprising that the director has never tackled the film business directly. Maps to the Stars premiering at Cannes, amongst the media frenzy and lavish parties, feels appropriate but does the movie entirely succeed as condemnation or disturbing satire? You can read our take on that here and see the highlights from the press conference below:
On Attracting the Perfect Cast
Cronenberg assembled an eclectic ensemble for the film that meshes bonafide superstars with acclaimed industry thespians. Cronenberg explains that “72.5% of the work” of the film is done by putting an ideal cast together. “It makes directing pretty simple,” He says. Gadon elaborated that the allure of working with Cronenberg (previously she was featured in Cronenberg’s last two films) begins with scripts that are multilayered and require “peeling back the layers.” Both Julianne Moore and and Robert Pattinson (a repeat collaborator with the Canadian auteur) complimented their director, with Pattinson concluding, “I like being part of your world. I feel at home there.”
On Sex in Cars
One of the more unusual, but pertinent, questions that surfaced during the press conference was about Cronenberg’s fascination with sex in cars. The subject formed the basis of his dynamic film Crash and both in Cosmopolis and Maps to the Stars characters find themselves fornicating in the back of limos. Cronenberg explained, “There is an entire generation of Americans that have been spawned in the back seat of ’54 Fords” and detailed how an entire sexual revolution sprung from the freedom automobiles provided. Robert Pattinson also found himself confronting the question of who was a better back seat lover, Juliette Binoche in Cosmopolis or Julianne Moore in Maps to the Stars, Pattinson rated them both “7’s” (scale not given).
On the Comedy of David Cronenberg
If one has seen any number of films from the Canadian director, there is certainly comedy to be had, expanding the definition of the term. Cronenberg opened up about this theme, saying. “In terms of the comedy and humor and so on, I think all my movies are funny and I think this one is no exception. People said, ‘You really should make a comedy,’ and I’ve said, ‘But I’ve made nothing else.’ So let’s hope it’s the divine comedy.”
When it comes to his past work, the director said, ‘It didn’t feel different. Every movie, of course, is different and with Bruce Wagner‘s script there’s a voice that is unique. It’s his. I was really serving the script and his vision of LA and humanity in general. So blame him, it’s not my fault. But no really, functionally, it was not different. It’s playing all the tones, it’s playing all the notes, it’s playing all levels and they vary, from scene to scene actually. And moment to moment. You’ve got to admit there’s some laughs in the movie. I mean, come on.”
Moore jumps in, saying, “I think every thing is funny. I think tragedy is funny, life is funny. We find humor in absolutely everything. In our desires, in our desperation…there is something funny and sad, of course, about people consistently missing the mark. And that’s what the whole movie is about, looking to the stars or looking out rather than looking within.”
On the Lurid World of Hollywood
Cronenberg takes aim at the vices and excess of Hollywood in Maps to the Star and John Cusack specifically describes the film as portraying a “heightened myth” of that world, but one that “was just about right.” The contempt for the celebrity-driven culture was deeply embedded in Bruce Wagner’s script, which according to Cusack, the actors remained faithful to every “verb” while shooting.
Moore expanded upon the thematic concern of the film and elaborated on her own career. “I love the movie business. I’m not here to disparage it,” she said. “The reason we value, film, we value literature, we value narrative, is because they tell us stories about our lives.” It was Cronenberg who concluded that Hollywood is merely a good location for stories about desperation, greed, and terror but Maps to the Stars could be set on Wall Street or in Silicon Valley. It will be up to viewers to decide if the journey is worth it when Maps to the Stars is released.
Maps to the Stars premiered at Cannes Film Festival. Read our review and see the trailers here.