Timothée Chalamet sinks his teeth into the role of Lee
How did you interpret Lee and Maren’s need to feed?
For me, it felt like the cannibalism was a metaphor for what your ancestors leave you with – your immediate parents, but also the trauma that you’ve lived with from generations past. You wrestle with that. Sometimes it’s something you can actually overcome and break the cycle. And sometimes a curse remains a curse and a blemish remains a blemish.
Was there anything else you felt as you were making it?
During, it felt like this quickly became a metaphor about addiction for me – especially young people who are addicted, are figuring out the most rudimentary things about themselves, what it means to be in love, what it means when you’re in a relationship, what it means to try to support someone in a relationship. You are wrestling with something so intense, so dangerous, as to affect other people’s mortality or your own… Without giving anything away, love can be something that rescues you out of it and lifts you up. But I also like the other interpretation – again, without giving too much away – that love can lift you, ultimately to sort of crush you too, because sometimes those demons remain.
Do you think the film has a feel of Badlands or Bonnie And Clyde?
Those are two huge inspirations for the movie. When I think about Bonnie And Clyde and Badlands, it was just a style of acting in those movies that was more direct. It felt old-fashioned that way and felt inspiring. Badlands is a movie I hadn’t seen before I read the script. And then you watch it and you’re deeply invested in these characters.
Were you familiar with Taylor Russell?
I’d seen her in Waves, when it came out three, four years ago. She was somebody I had been dying to work with and there were other projects we had circled that didn’t come to fruition. This one happened to be the one that did.
What’s your view on how Luca interprets America?
To have an Italian point of view on the American Midwest in the ’80s, it felt freedom-inducing. Luca has a unique point of view. I’m not trying to blow smoke… he really feels like an auteur. He’s doing what he wants. I don’t even want to describe it as a negative phenomenon, but people are kind of increasingly boxed in – I’m thinking of directors – and Luca’s like [the opposite]. It’s just so thrilling to work with that.
Is it important for you to find directors like him?
I hope I don’t sound pretentious rattling off the list of names, but I think of Denis Villeneuve and Greta Gerwig and Luca Guadagnino and Paul King, who I just worked with [on Wonka]… they have very strong visions. It’s not my experience, but you can kind of hear the horror stories from other sets where there’s a million opinions in the room.