Originally announced as starring Colin Farrell in the central role of 28-year-old billionaire Eric Packer, the Irish actor dropped out in favor of the "Total Recall" remake, and in his place, Cronenberg cast one of the most famous men in the world, Robert Pattinson, who's gone supernova in the last few years thanks to his starring role in the "Twilight" films, the latest of which, "Breaking Dawn Pt. 1," hit theaters over the weekend. The announcement caused horror in some film snobs and Cronenbergites, and delight from Twi-hards, who've taken an unprecedented interest in the project as it gets closer. Now wrapped, it should arrive next year, and when we spoke to the director on his press tour for "A Dangerous Method" in Los Angeles last week, we asked if the actor's fame had given him any pause in casting Pattinson.
To the contrary. "I kind of enjoy that," he told us with a smile. "Frankly, in a weird way, its almost in parallel with Keira [Knightley]. In England she’s got a lot of baggage. It’s not hers, it’s the journalist and the critics, who can be very nasty. I think, for me, you can’t ignore the baggage, but when you’re making the movie, it doesn’t exist. It’s not there. All you’re dealing with is the reality of this person as an actor. And I love that.”
Indeed, the director is fully aware that Pattinson's presence is likely to bring him a new audience, and he's pleased about the prospect. "The excitement around 'Cosmopolis' because of Rob was terrific. It was fun. The idea that these kids, that they really continue to be excited. I’ve said this about Viggo [Mortensen]. If you’re a fan of Aragorn in 'Lord of the Rings' then you don’t have to see 'Eastern Promises,' but if you’re a fan of Viggo as an actor you must see 'Eastern Promises.' And its the same with Rob. If they’re really Rob fans as opposed to Edward...whatever the name of the character is. Rob fans will want to see 'Cosmopolis.' "
And it sounds like fans will be pleased, and the doubters silenced, as the director couldn't be happier with his choice. "He's fantastic in it. They'll see him do things they've never seen him do, believe me. They'll be blown away," he said. "Cosmopolis" doesn't yet have a release date or distributor, but we'd put good money on a debut at Cannes or Toronto next year, before a fall 2012 release.
On the opposite end of the Cronenberg scale, arguably his least accessible film, William Burroughs adaptation "Naked Lunch," was reported a few weeks ago to have a mooted 3D conversion in the works, although producer Jeremy Thomas said that he's approached the director, who was "against it." We double checked with Cronenberg, and he denied ever having heard anything about the plan. "I have never heard that," the filmmaker said. "Where did you hear that? That is news to me."
Coming to terms with the concept, he suggested he's not against it in principle, but found it unlikely that anyone would fund such a process for such a difficult film. "It’s so expensive to convert. 'Naked Lunch' was never the hit that 'The Last Emperor' was [Bertolucci's film is getting the 3D treatment], so I can’t really believe that anyone would [spend the money]. I just talked to Jeremy Thomas, the producer of both movies, like 20 minutes ago and I’ve never heard this before. I’d go for it, but it would probably cost ten times the budget of 'Naked Lunch.' ”
"A Dangerous Method" hits theaters on November 23rd. -
Interview by Jeff Otto