David Cronenberg, the director and sometimes actor hailed as one of the world’s most iconic horror filmmakers, couldn’t say no when the creators of the Canadian-made horror series “Slasher” offered him the opportunity to play the kind of person he is. never portrayed before.
In “Slasher: Flesh & Blood,” which opens Monday in the Hollywood Suite, Cronenberg is Spencer Galloway, a manipulative businessman who rallies his family to compete in a deadly game, and the winner will be declared the sole heir to his fortune. .
“He was a character that I had never played before, a very different character from me,” said the Toronto-born filmmaker, known for horror classics like “Shivers,” “The Fly” and “Videodrome.”
“Usually I play scientists, doctors, lawyers and stuff. This was … a very cruel, obnoxious and belligerent character, who was fun to play. It was a really interesting glimpse of the dysfunctional family with a nasty patriarch on top. “
Cronenberg, 78, is no stranger to acting, with credits including “Alias Grace,” “Jason X” and “Star Trek: Discovery,” but this was quite a different twist and huge responsibility as an actor, which could be scary. – “But scary is good when it’s the creative kind of scary,” he said in a phone interview.
“It is also an acting challenge. It is not a fact that you are going to be good at it. It’s something you have to work on. There is a lot of dialogue and a lot of it is very intricate. So aside from the screaming, there are also some very intricate, twisted, and interesting verbalizations of this character that were hard to master, actually, and that’s what you want. You want something that is not going to be easy. “
It was also cathartic to play the patriarch of the Galloway family.
“You can talk to my children and they will tell you that I have never yelled at them in my entire life. So being able to yell at his own dysfunctional kids… and also some pretty foul language, ”he laughed. “It was a lot of fun. And yeah, it’s very cathartic.”
Cronenberg, whose gangster movie “Eastern Promises” won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2007, has seen the horror genre grow since it began to make a name for itself in the 1970s, and that includes the way the genre is welcomed. by the public these days.
“When I started making movies, the horror genre was very accessible to a young filmmaker and young independent filmmakers; there was a market for that, ”he said. “It was not considered a very legitimate genre, but for someone who is a subversive filmmaker, it would certainly do very well.”
Cronenberg became known for his “body horror” work, a term he never used himself but which has remained a description of his previous work, which he understands.
“I consider myself a kind of neo-existentialist, which means that I really believe that we are our bodies and that when our bodies die we leave, we disappear, there is nothing else,” he said.
“So the focus for me in all art is basically an exploration of the human condition. For me, the human condition is a very physical thing. That is why it is very natural for me to focus on the body. I must also say that as a director, what you photograph the most is the human body. I mean, that’s your topic. Every time you turn on the camera, you are photographing a person or a body … I don’t even consider it horror … I would call it a body something other than horror, actually. “
He called it an achievement that a low-budget horror movie like “Scanners,” which came out in 1981, could be the number one movie in North America the week it came out, “but part of it was the genre’s accessibility to Young, inexperienced filmmakers who didn’t have big budgets. It was very much that pragmatic aspect. “
He recalled telling filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, who won an Oscar for his 2017 fantasy film “The Shape of Water,” which was also named Best Picture, that he did not expect to win anything for his 2006 film “Pan’s Labyrinth.” .
“I said, ‘Your movie is really good, but since it’s a genre movie, they won’t give you anything.’ And sure enough, it got a great reaction and rave reviews, but it didn’t win anything. But things have obviously changed. If ‘The Shape of Water’ could win, it means that things have changed a bit in terms of the legitimacy that exists for horror sci-fi. “
Cronenberg, whose last feature was “Maps to the Stars” in 2014, returns with another company as director, “Crimes of the Future,” in which humans living in a synthetic world are evolving beyond their natural state.
He just finished filming in Greece and shared: “It’s a script that I wrote 20 years ago, which I thought might not be very relevant now. But producer Robert Lantos convinced me that he was, in fact, more relevant than ever now in a sci-fi form, and in terms of his comments on where we are as a global society and community.
“I mean, that sounds very exaggerated, but I think we have made a very strange and subversive movie … an unusual piece with some great actors and great texture … I think I have to say that it is my return to genre cinema. after not having done so. ” been there for quite some time. “