David Cronenberg recently spoke to New York Magazine at length about his current film, A Dangerous Method, and also gave much insight into Cosmopolis. The magazine also referenced “his love of Robert Pattinson” in their introduction to the interview. Given the accolades DC has shared in the past month, we couldn’t help but smile at that phrasing from NYmag.
Here is the Cosmopolis excerpt:
You’ve finished shooting Cosmopolis, which you wrote, based on the Don DeLillo novel about a 28 year-old billionaire’s one-day odyssey across Manhattan. What was it about it that made you think, Okay, this is the next film I’m going to make?
I really have no idea other than I thought the dialogue was absolutely incredible. Don DeLillo, whose work I had known before, but I didn’t know that book, he has a tone, there’s a special kind of dialogue he has that’s really — it’s like when you see a Harold Pinter play and people talk about Pinteresque dialogue. It’s studied. It’s stylized. But somehow it’s also incredibly real. It’s interesting, because you know when you write a script — I did write the screenplay for it as well, based on the novel — and when you write a screenplay, it’s odd, the only stuff that you write that actually gets directly onto the screen is the dialogue. All of your descriptions and so on, which in a novel you worry about the literary style and your metaphors and all that, but in a screenplay that’s all irrelevant. That’s just very mundane and pragmatic. But the thing that really ends up exactly the same way onscreen is the dialogue. So as I say, it was really the dialogue, and the way it was delivering in Cosmopolis that made me think this should be a movie.
Because of the dialogue, you were able to write the screenplay in six days, something like that?
That’s correct. You’ve heard that story.
Were you just wholesale transferring dialogue, and rearranging?
I thought, Okay, is this really a movie or not? Let’s try an experiment. I’d never done this before: I literally went over every page in the book and transcribed the dialogue and put it into movie form. With dialogue, but with no description, no scene headings or anything like that, using a screenwriting program. And so after three days I had transcribed all the dialogue. And I started to just read it, and I thought, It’s starting to feel like a movie. And then the next three days I filled in all of the screen descriptions, and everything else that would make it understandable to people who are making the movie, namely actors and crew. And there was a script after six days. So that was a unique experience for me. Normally, screenwriting is difficult, especially if you’re writing an original screenplay. So you don’t expect it to work that easily. But there it was. As I say, you don’t want to be predictable. You don’t want to know what the arc of your career is, and where it will inevitably lead you. You want to be surprised. I don’t want to be bored. I don’t want to be predictable, even to myself. Because when you make a movie, you’re pretty much devoting two years of your life: to getting the financing together, then making the movie, then promoting the movie. At the very least, it’s two years of your life. So you better want to really do it. It’s got to constantly surprise you, and entertain you, and amuse you, and challenge you. Otherwise, it’s not a good idea to do it.
Was there anything in particular about the story that appealed to you? It’s about a billionaire who loses his pride and all his money in the same day.
Sure. Yeah, it’s incredibly predictive. Not that I care about that. People have often said that my movie Videodrome, for example, was a prophetic movie about the Internet, about interactive media and stuff. But you don’t make it because of that. However, it’s inevitable when you look at Cosmopolis and realize that Don wrote it in 1999 and how incredibly relevant it is right now in terms of this financial meltdown that we’ve been talking about. It’s perfect. It’s like, Wow, it just feels right. Though it was written to be set in the year 2000, it doesn’t feel like a movie that’s ten years old. It feels like it’s right now.
And do you have it set in the year 2000, or did you bring it up to now?
It’s set now.
What was it about Robert Pattinson that made you think he was the right guy for the lead?
He’s the right age. He looks right. He looks good in a suit. He looks like he could be a young, tough, billionaire. And I’ve actually thought he was quite a good actor who was very underrated in a similar way to Keira Knightley, I think, when I was thinking of her for Dangerous Method. Both of them have had great financial success and are stars based on franchises, but of course to do that you have to have a kind of screen charisma, you have to have a presence, which you can’t buy or create; you either have it or you don’t. That doesn’t mean you’re necessarily a good actor, though. But you have at least that. I looked at all the stuff that he’s done, and I thought he’s a really good actor. And then I spoke to him, and thought not only that, but he’s a really smart actor. And he’s funny, and he’s very sweet. That’s when I tried to convince him to do the movie, which he was a little afraid of, just because I think he doesn’t know how good he is, basically. And I think now that he’s done the movie, he’s starting to understand how good he is. Because he’s terrific.
And was he a fan of your work?
He knew my work, yeah. What’s interesting, too, about Rob is that he’s very well educated in terms of movies and movie history and foreign films. On the set, he and Juliette Binoche were talking about the most obscure French films and stuff like that together. He really knows his stuff. And yet, as I say, he’s a completely down-to-earth, sweet guy. Lovely to work with. And very funny.
Are you going to go see Breaking Dawn?
I think I’ll wait for the screener.
You’re not going to go with the screaming fans?
Well, I don’t feel the need to line up, let’s put it that way. And I’m sure there’s going to be big lines for it. But, you know, basically I know what Rob can do having worked with him. I don’t have to see Twilight now. I certainly looked at the first two, though, when I was thinking about him.
Oh yeah, sure. And I watched Remember Me, and I watched Little Ashes. Which is maybe a movie you don’t know, but he plays a young Salvador Dalí in that movie with a Spanish accent. And I thought that was pretty interesting, very daring of him to do that, and it indicated to me that he was an interesting, serious actor.
And you were impressed with the work in the first two Twilights?
I was impressed with his screen presence and a lot of his stillness, and a lot of other things. But the other movies showed me he had range. He had the range that I wanted.
Click HERE to read the interview in its entirety. Great read!