Kidman, Far­rell re­flect on ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ing with di­rec­tor Yor­gos Lan­thi­mos

The Niagara Falls Review - - CLASSIFIEDS - JAKE COYLE

TORONTO — 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.

In his lat­est film, The Killing

of a Sa­cred Deer, Ni­cole Kidman and Colin Far­rell play the par­ents of a subur­ban fam­ily ter­ror­ized by a young man (Barry 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.

Ear­lier this fall at the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, Lan­thi­mos, Kidman, Far­rell and Keoghan gath­ered to dis­cuss their sur­real and di­vi­sive film:

Q I’m guess­ing from your films, Yor­gos, you don’t much care for small talk.

Lan­thi­mos 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.

Q Ni­cole, how did you first con­nect with Yor­gos? Kidman I pur­sued him re­lent­lessly and he fi­nally gave in.

Lan­thi­mos 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.”

Q How did you de­scribe the film to your cast, 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 McDon­agh (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.

Q Is it act­ing? It’s cer­tainly a dif­fer­ent kind of per­for­mance. 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.

Q Did the ex­pe­ri­ence of mak­ing the film mimic the story’s tra­jec­tory from com­edy to bleak­ness?

Far­rell If you scream into the wind for 12 hours with­out any­one around, you’re go­ing to be a lit­tle bit in­sane for at least an­other 12. We al­most shot in con­ti­nu­ity so it got darker and it got bleaker and it got weight­ier the closer we got to a de­ci­sion that’s made in the film. I was de­pressed by the end. It got un­der my skin for sure.

Keoghan I’ve not acted since, ba­si­cally. (Laughs)

Kidman And we were in con­fined spa­ces. We were shoot­ing in a (Cincinnati) hos­pi­tal, which is a very strange en­vi­ron­ment, any­way, to be shoot­ing in. I was walk­ing with bare feet and they were like, “Put your shoes on! You’ll pick up some weird bac­te­ria.”

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