Xavier Dolan — hot off Cannes hit “Mommy,” which made its Toronto premiere today to an incredibly rapturous response — has some big news about his follow-up: Jessica Chastain has joined Dolan’s “The Death and Life of John F. Donovan,” the director’s first English language feature.
Dolan and Chastain are both at the Toronto Film Festival right now with a variety of projects. Dolan is as noted bringing his Cannes hit “Mommy” back home and also world premiering his starring role in Charles Binamé’s “Elephant Song.” Chastain is here with Liv Ullman’s “Miss Julie,” her latest starring role in what will clearly be a very prolific year for the actress (“The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,” “Interstellar” and “A Most Violent Year” are all expected in theaters by the end of December). And now it’s official the two will be collaborating on Dolan’s next directorial effort, which Dolan describes as “the story of an American movie star with everything working out for him who has a secretive correspondence with an 11 year old in London.”
“It was this friend of mine — a journalist — who had brought to my attention that Jessica Chastain had seen ‘Mommy’ in Cannes and had liked it and tweeted about it,” Dolan said. “I went back and scrolled down the tweets and there was this lovely tweet where Jessica was saying that she had liked ‘Mommy.'”
Clearly, that love has gone a long way.
“It dawned on me that I should ask Jessica about playing the ‘villain’ role in ‘John F. Donovan,'” Dolan said. “There is this character of the editor-in-chief of a gossip magazine. The movie really is a satire of the business — more dramatic than humorous. And there’s this antagonistic figure that wants to ruin the lives of ever star, especially that of the lead character. And I reached out to Jessica and she read the script. She loved it, and we got along like hotcakes. That’s basically it. I can already foresee all the pleasure we’ll have working together.”
We can already foresee the pleasure we’ll have watching their efforts. “The Death and Life of John F. Donovan” will start shooting in 2015 in Montreal, New York, Miami, England and Eastern Europe.