Map to the Stars: Julianne Moore Cannes Fest Best Actress) Talks about Cronenberg Film

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David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars

At the center of the story is Stafford Weiss’s biggest celebrity clients: the famous but quickly fading Havana Segrand. Havana has long existed in the shadow of her even more legendary mother, classic Hollywood star Clarice Taggart, who had perished in a mystifying fire.

Taking the roles of Havana and her ghostly matriarch are four-time Oscar nominee Julianne Moore and Canadian actress Sarah Gadon, respectively.

 

maps_to_the_stars_12_wasikowska_mooreMoore was the first cast member to sign onto Maps to the Stars, several years before it was made, and she stayed committed to the role. “There were two big attractions: David Cronenberg and Bruce Wagner,” she explains. “I’ve always wanted to work with David, his work is so assured, so interesting. And Bruce is so imaginative in his writing, so creative, and he really knows how to blend the ridiculous with the sublime. You’ll have a moment of high comedy and then it skids right into something dark and dramatic. So to have that kind of material in the hands of a director like Cronenberg was exciting.”

Moore saw the story as being partly about Hollywood but also transcending Hollywood to touch on human ambition and hubris in all walks of life. “It’s a commentary on how we live our lives today, but one refracted through the lens of celebrity,” she says. “It’s really more about human nature, about what people want out of the short span of life we have and how blind we are to our mortality.”

maps_to_the_stars_8_mooreCronenberg was gratified by Moore’s complex, poignant take on Havana and her mounting neuroses. “Julie’s so funny, so capable, so adept and nimble,” comments the director. “And once she had her hooks into this character, she required just the slightest bit of guidance here and there. It’s not really a given that an actress can play an actress – actually, many actors don’t like to play actors — but Julie had such great enthusiasm for this role.”  He continues: “She’s created a kind of glorious monster, an earthy, unashamed monster. She was never intimidated by Havana and was completely unafraid.”

Moore says that her portrait of Havana is based on “an amalgam of people I’ve known and observed. She is someone who lives completely isolated in this make-believe world. She doesn’t really have a family and she’s still very angry with her mother because she feels she was abused. She’s always lived in her mother’s shadow, and in her mind, it’s all a kind of mixed-up, Freudian mess.”

That psychic chaos takes an even darker turn when Havana goes after the part her mother once played in a hot new movie heading into production – but seems to losing ground to younger, more sizzling actresses. In the midst of all this unspeakable dread, Havana starts to see Clarice’s taunting ghost at the most inopportune moments, which gave Sarah Gadon an intriguing part.

Gadon previously worked with Cronenberg on A Dangerous Method and Cosmopolis and he was keen to work with her again. “Sarah is a rising star and we’ve done two movies together,” he says. “This may be the smallest role of the three that we’ve done — but the idea of her playing Julianne Moore’s mother was completely irresistible. And it’s such a lovely, unusual role, because she’s simply this ghostly memory.”

Havana Segrand’s spectral memories and ultimate fate become unsuspectingly tied up with the Weiss family – especially when Stafford Weiss’s long-lost daughter becomes her latest personal assistant in a long line of unsuccessful partnerships.