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6th May 2014 from TwitLonger

PART 2 - Translations of @PremiereFR magazine with Robert Pattinson - David Michôd’s interview

Three years after the shocking Animal Kingdom, David Michôd takes Robert Pattinson and Guy Pearce in a post-apocalyptic road-movie, barbaric and desperate.

PREMIERE: Let’s start with an important question. How do you pronounce “Michôd”? Like in French?
DAVID MICHÔD: Exactly. Ma family used to live in your country around a hundred years ago. I think that at the time, my name was written “Michaud”. It turned into “Michôd” with time, but it is still pronounced the same way.

PREMIERE: After such a success with Animal Kingdom (2011), a lot of directors would have left their native country to film something new in the United-States, but not you. Is it because of loyalty to your country or because you didn’t find a project satisfying enough to make the big jump?
DAVID: To be frank, the question isn’t really to know where you’re going to shoot, or even what to tell, but how to do it. I wanted to have total control of my second film and despite the incredible opportunities Hollywood was giving me, I quickly understood that I wouldn’t be able to control the whole process from A to Z. So I decided to work on my own script.

PREMIERE: You co-wrote The Rover with the actor Joel Edgerton, who worked in Animal Kingdom. How did the idea come to you?
DAVID: At first, Joel and I wanted to write a film for his brother Nash, who is a director. The starting point was simple. “Cars in the desert”. It was that simple. As Nash is also a stuntman, we thought it would be perfect for him. We wrote an idea of the story with Joel, then I isolated myself to write a first draft of the script. And very quickly, I realized I didn’t want to give this baby to Nash anymore!

PREMIERE: When you’re Australian and you shoot a post-apocalyptic road-movie in the desert, whether you want it or not, you’re measuring yourself to Mad Max. How did you compose this heritage?
DAVID: Mad Max is the star our cinema revolves around. It’s a film that surprised everyone, that showed we could accomplish exceptional things with a limited budget and that, despite being irrigated by a big love for the American cinema, showed its Australian identity in every scene. How do you measure up to that? The only solution was to not think about it. I know that The Rover is connected to different traditions – the road-movie, science-fiction, western – but I really wanted it to look new, unheard of.

PREMIERE: I think I heard you already had Guy Pearce in mind while you were writing the script….
DAVID: Yes, especially because I had loved our collaboration on Animal Kingdom. Guy is extremely talented; he is the kind of actor that gives his director the impression of being a virtuoso, playing on the most beautiful piano in the world. And the notes that we end up producing are magical! I was also looking for a man in his 40s, not too old and not too young. Someone who seems tough and dangerous but behind all that coldness, there is a big vulnerability. Guy does that perfectly.

PREMIERE: And Pattinson?
DAVID: I met Rob once before I even knew I was going to film The Rover. He is among the 400,000 people I met in Los Angeles when Animal Kingdom came out there. (Laughing) I knew nothing about him, I hadn’t seen the Twilight movie – Still haven’t seen them, by the way. However, some of my friends had told me he was an interesting guy. I was impressed by his intelligence, his energy, but that day, I was especially struck by his face. I thought I was going to come face to face with one of those young trendy guys whose beauty is dull but his mug is fascinating, totally atypical. Then, when we began casting for the film, I saw a lot of actors, some very well-known, but Rob’s tests were magnificent and very moving. And he really wanted to do the film, you could see it. It’s important for me.

PREMIERE: The Rover is one of those rough films, crushed by the sun for which we can imagine the whole shoot was really difficult.
DAVID: It was the case, largely because we were filming in isolated places and under searing heat. It could go up to 45°C. The big moment was when we installed our camp in a far-away place in the middle of nowhere, eight hours away, in the north of Adelaide. There was no network for the phones, no internet connection, a single phone line for the whole village. We spent three weeks there, slowly turning nicely crazy.

PREMIERE: We see once again, the great Scoot McNairy, who played in “Cogan” – “Killing Them Softly” (2012), by your fellow countryman Andrew Dominik. Is there really an “Australian Connection” in Hollywood or is just a journalistic fantasy?
DAVID: Non, no, it is real. It’s true that all the friends I am making in Los Angeles at the moment are Australian. Andrew, I was first a fan of him. I find ”The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” to be the one of the greatest films of the past twenty years. Today, we’re friends. As for Scoot, I met him while filming Cogan… In New-Orleans.

PREMIERE: Is it also thanks to Dominik that you met Brad Pitt (With whom Michôd will film “The Operators”, on the war in Afghanistan)?
DAVID: Yes and no. I crossed paths with Pitt very briefly on the set of “Cogan”… But I was in contact with Plan B (The production company of the actor) at the time. The Operators ended up appealing to him. I don’t know what to conclude from this, except that Brad might have a thing for Australian directors. (Laughing)

PREMIERE: Have you looked at the other films selected for Cannes? Which film attracts you the most on paper?
DAVID: Very good question, I should have thought about that before. (Silence). Oh yeah, I know. “Foxcatcher” (By Bennett Miller). Rumour has it that it is an extraordinary movie. And I loved Greig Fraser’s work. It’s him who enlightened the idea of “Cogan”. Another Australian….

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