Farrell likens new film to In Bruges
Weekend, October 27-29, 2017 Cast, director weigh in on the surrealism of Sacred Deer Movies
Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’ movies aren’t the sort that typically attract a stampede of Hollywood A-listers.
His films, which he writes with Efthymis Filippou, are deadpan, midnight-black comedies that carry out grim allegorical absurdities to extreme ends. Characters speak stiltedly in cliches while an intensifying menace envelopes them. Things get weird and then they get brutal.
And yet Lanthimos is not only a regular on the festival circuit (his latest, The Killing of a Sacred Deer premiered at the Cannes Film Festival) but he has earned an Oscar nomination (for the script to The Lobster) and drawn eager stars like Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer, which stars Kidman and Farrell and features the breakthrough performance of Irish actor Barry Keoghan, opened last weekend with similarly packed art-house theatres. Farrell and Kidman play the parents of a suburban family terrorized by a young man (Keoghan) who’s a vague figure of comeuppance come to force Farrell’s heart surgeon to kill one of his two children as retribution for an earlier sin. Lathimos: I prefer the small talk to the big talk. I’m not a big talker, am I? Kidman: He’s quiet. He’s an introvert, but not in his filmmaking. Kidman: I pursued him relentlessly and he finally gave in. Yorgos: You like saying that. I turned her down for 50 films. Kidman: We had met. We had food together and chatted. That was a nice meeting. Then we had sort of a texting relationship. I was doing a play in London. He told me about the script. I said, “That sounds interesting, Yorgos.” Lanthimos: Never get yourself into a situation where you have to describe the film. Farrell: “It’s 104 pages of joy!” I loved it. It was remarkably different from The Lobster, in tone, but also existing in a grossly idiosyncratic world. It was a mystery to me, as The Lobster was. It’s very seldom for me that you get to read writing that is so remarkably unique. The only other time that I had a similar feeling was with Martin McDonaugh (In Bruges). Keoghan: It was a weird film, a weird script, but I loved it. It’s a different kind of acting, you know? You don’t act in it. It was just a challenge. I think he hates actors, as well. Kidman: He doesn’t like “acting,” am I right? He always says, “Stop acting.” Lanthimos: What do you mean? There’s a lot of acting everywhere, all over the place. (Laughs) Kidman: He says, “You’re doing too much. Stop it.” Farrell: The best direction in 20 years of doing this job I’ve ever heard is him screaming from a monitor to an actor: “Stop trying to be so naturalistic!” Lanthimos: Because that’s the worst! You see the effort of someone trying to be like real life. You go, “I’m embarrassed. Don’t do that.” Kidman: I think I embarrassed him a lot. Farrell: It takes habituated behavioural responses and pushes them to the side. It kind of presents subtext as reality and so you don’t have to play subtext at all. It feels to me to be a really honest world. Lanthimos: I think we’ve become very conservative. We elevate as important certain things and then others we consider them taboo and we don’t touch them. There’s a facade in general that we try to use to seal ourselves from certain things. I don’t have answers but just to poke a certain nerve. Keoghan: I kind of did. (Laughter) Especially that spaghetti scene. I was like: “Turn up the creep-mode.”
Writer-director Yorgos lanthimos, center, appears with the cast members of the Killing of a Sacred Deer —Barry Keoghan, Nicole Kidman and Colin farrell.