David Cronenberg talks about Rob and Cosmopolis at Queen University, Film and Media Courses - March 13, 2012.
His film Cosmopolis, based on the novel by Don Delillo, is in post-production. It stars Robert Pattinson as a Manhattan millionaire.
The film was shot in Toronto, a favourite shooting location of Cronenberg’s.
“I’ve never shot a foot of film in the U.S., even though a lot of my movies are set there,” he said.
Toronto also provided a refuge for Pattinson’s international celebrity, he said.
“When we were shooting on the streets, [Pattinson] had a lot of fans crowding around, but he could go to bars and clubs in his street clothes and people didn’t recognize him,” he said.
Cronenberg said Pattinson has a deep knowledge of cinema with a talent that stretches beyond what is shown in the Twilight Saga franchise.
“He’s a very serious actor. He wants to be great and takes the trouble to try and be great,” he said. “What he does in [Cosmopolis] will lay that question to rest, which a lot of people who are skeptical of Twilight are asking.”
Pattinson wouldn’t be the first actor to be recognized for his talent in a Cronenberg film.
William Hurt and Viggo Mortensen were nominated for Academy Awards for their respective roles in 2005’s A History of Violence and 2007’s Eastern Promises.
But winning an Oscar isn’t one of Cronenberg’s personal goals, he said.
“You’ll kill yourself if you do that. In Hollywood, the Oscar is like a religious icon — it’s like the Holy Grail,” he said. “The Weinstein’s are famous for spending millions of dollars to get that Oscar … but that isn’t the game I’m playing.”
The Weinstein Company is a U.S. film studio founded by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, who previously founded Miramax studios.
In Hollywood, a movie’s budget often determines its content, Cronenberg said.
“It would be naive to do a $200-million film and expect to be an extreme, radical filmmaker,” he said. “You just know you’re going to have to be much more conservative because you need that huge audience … which is why I continue to make indie films.”
Many filmmakers are swayed to make their art appeal to the masses, at the expense of its quality, he said.
“As an artist you have to try and ignore the outside pressures, not just in terms of violence, but with sex or anything that’s taboo,” he said. “If you’re distributing your movie all over the world … the fears of one country aren’t at all the fears of another country.”
Violence and sexually-explicit content are prevalent throughout Cronenberg’s films, but he insists all his movies feature deliberate comedic moments.
“I don’t think I need to do something that’s classified as a comedy, but I wouldn’t do anything that didn’t have some humour.”