With 12 Academy Award nominations and a Golden Globe win for Best Picture under its belt, “The Revenant” looks to be gathering up a head full of steam as we head toward the Oscars, with no signs of slowing down. Along the way, director Alejandro G. Iñárritu has had plenty of ‘splainin’ to do: If it’s not the movie’s overly discussed bear-attack scene, people want him to address the abhorrent weather conditions and crew unrest that persisted on-set. It’s that rare instance where the pervasive conversation surrounding a movie threatens to overshadow the considerable work that’s up there on screen.
But in spite of all this business, Iñárritu doesn’t appear phased. In fact, in this new talk with Studio 360, he sounds relaxed and confident: like he’s had ample time and perspective to pore over the specifics of what, by all accounts, was a massive cinematic undertaking. In the talk, the director discusses the peculiarities of shooting in sequence and how his early, layered ensemble dramas like “Amores Perros” and “21 Grams” differ from his last two films (“The Revenant” and the Oscar-winning ‘Birdman‘), both of which are similarly relentless studies of one individual’s inward and outward journeys.
Iñárritu also discusses the possibility of making a movie focused exclusively on the modern-day immigrant experience (his fans will remember that he broached the subject matter in 2006’s “Babel”), which leads to the subject of Donald Trump. The Mexican filmmaker already took aim at everyone’s favorite meme-friendly political blowhard during a speech at last year’s Art + Film Gala at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and it turns out he’s not quite done throwing shade. He calls Trump a “sad” and “bitter” man, and somewhat memorably, “a poor man who…the only thing he has is money.” As an artist and a rational, thinking human being, Iñárritu’s distaste for Trump is understandable. What’s perhaps more interesting is to hear his own personal reflections on the notion of Mexican identity, which are sure to resonate with anyone who has ever come from a community of outsiders.
Though “The Revenant” has been making headlines since before its release, one thing that even the film’s critics can agree on is that Iñárritu did the right thing by employing and casting real Native-American actors and extras. Duane Howard, playing an Arikara chief searching for his daughter on the tale of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Hugh Glass, gives one of the film’s most visceral performances and makes it look easy. As the saying goes, though, you can’t please all the people all the time: Turns out Québécois actor Roy Dupuis is none too happy about the fashion in which his French-Canadians are portrayed in Iñárritu’s film. Granted, that’s understandable when your people are represented onscreen as a venal pack of rapists and xenophobic killers, but that’s not, Dupuis insists, who they really are.
“[The characters]… It’s the opposite of how most of the coureurs des bois lived their lives among the Indians,” he told CBC‘s “As It Happens.” “They were the ones who embraced their culture, who learned their language, who had children and married.”
Lest you think Dupuis is throwing darts from the sidelines, it should be known that the “La Femme Nikita” star was approached to play the role of Toussaint, perhaps the movie’s most loathsome character (and yes, that includes Tom Hardy’s racist scumbag John Fitzgerald), but he wasn’t allowed to read the script. It’s probably just as well given his opinion on the final result. “I have certain difficulties with the credibility of what’s happening in the movie,” he said. “It’s too bad…because it’s a movie that’s going to be seen by hundreds of millions of people. It’s an important movie.”
Lastly, you might already known that journalist Sean Penn was initially cast as Fitzgerald in “The Revenant,” but what you might not know is how Leonardo DiCapario got Hardy to take the gig when Penn left the project. “Leo called me up because Sean Penn initially was to play Fitzgerald,” Hardy told Yahoo. “Then [Penn] was unavailable. I was going to be doing [the film] ‘Splinter Cell.’ Leo called me up and said, ‘I’m doing this film with Alejandro [Iñárritu]. It’s really cool.” Good move, Hardy.