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Karl Glusman has been a fan of provocateur Gaspar Noé ever since he caught a screening of “Enter the Void” at New York’s IFC Center. Little did the budding actor know that Noé would be in the audience that evening for a post-screening Q&A, or that the director would call on him to ask a question. This small moment was indirectly the beginning of a very ambitious collaboration.
Flash forward five years, Glusman is now the star of the director’s latest drama, “Love,” which chronicles the sexual and romantic odyssey of an American living in Paris. In typical Noé fashion, the movie is full of explicative sexual moments (most notably a 3D ejaculation). The press has focused mainly on this graphic side of “Love,” though the film truly belongs to the fearless Glusman, who charms and terrifies in equal measure.
As he expertly navigates the seduction of young love and the volatile rage of it all going sour, the actor commands the screen with a breakout performance that is as memorably bare emotionally as it is physically. The actor was shaking when he got the call from Noé to be in the project, and “Love” is just the beginning of a career that’s already taking an arthouse evolution. Next up, Glusman will join Tom Ford and Nicolas Winding Refn for “Nocturnal Animals” and “The Neon Demon,” respectively.
“Love” is now playing in 3D in select theaters. Check out the trailer for the film and above and continue reading for Indiewire’s Springboard interview with Glusman.
I saw [“Enter the Void”] and I was just blown away. I was absolutely transported and stunned. I felt that I had seen an art installation — a real piece of art in a movie theater, which I think is so rare. Although I do love popcorn movies — I’ll totally be there to see “Star Wars” — it’s rare to see something in a movie theater that goes beyond our expectations. People don’t want to invest on something like Gaspar — they wan’t to know what they’re going to get when they pay for it, and Gaspar’s films are the antithesis of that. With “Enter the Void,” I didn’t know you could go to this place of surrealism in a movie. I felt sick when I watched it. It really stuck with me.
We would show up to set and I had no idea what we were going to shoot that day. Gaspar doesn’t have a shot list except what is in his head. He and the DP, Benoît Debie, would figure out the shot for 45 minutes to an hour and keep it a mystery to everyone else. I would always be asking him, “Do I keep my pants on for this take? Am I allowed to wear clothes?” It was like two guys throwing paint at a canvas and they would find the shot, put you in position and then say, “Okay, so, she just did this, you think she’s cheating on you with your drug dealer, what would you say?” They hit record and we had to improvise and just do that over and over again.
The whole nature of the film was immediacy — not knowing what we would get, what was going to come out of people’s mouths, what the shot was going to be. I think Gaspar thrives in that sort of immediacy. For me, it was both nerve-wracking and freeing at the same time. I’m someone that likes preparation time, but that was impossible on this film. It’s a different dance when you tango with Gaspar.
The love scenes, they all came from a true place. In love stories, sex is a key element. Sex is a key in all of our relationships. We’d be lying to say sensuality and intimacy is not a key ingredient when falling in love — especially when you’re young. With that in mind, it felt that this was a necessary ingredient in telling this story. That eight page outline had a mission statement at the beginning of it challenging the norms of cinema. It said what was acceptable to portray and depict, and it questioned it. It was a challenge — why is sex misrepresented? Why is it false so many times in movies? Our mission was to tell a love story in the truest way we know how, and sex has to be a part of it, and hopefully that’s what you see.