Leos Carax's totally nutty "Holy Motors" features a slew of strange moments, the most beguiling of which (well, for this writer) features Australian pint-sized megastar Kylie Minogue. In the gonzo odyssey (which opens today in New York), Minogue plays a mysterious old flame of Carax's protagonist, Oscar (Denis Lavant), who bursts into song upon reminiscing about the good old days while strolling through Paris at night.
"Holy Motors" is one of two films to star Minogue this year (the other being the upcoming romantic horror "Jack and Diane") -- a total rarity for the performer. Since first making a name for herself as an actress in the hit Australian soap opera "Neighbors," Minogue has left acting on the back burner, for the most part, to focus on her music career -- which has payed off quite nicely. In fact, "Holy Motors" marks her first time on the big screen since her blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance as a green fairy in 2001's "Moulin Rouge!."
While in New York for the recently-wrapped New York Film Festival, where "Holy Motors" screened, Minogue caught up with Indiewire to discuss her sudden activity on the acting front, her 25th anniversary in the music business, and working for the "Nick Cave of the film world."
This has marks a big step up from "Street Fighter," I must say.
Yeah -- kapow!
This year alone, you seem to be appearing in a lot of art house, independent pictures -- more than ever before. Why this sudden resurgence on the acting front for you?
I think I put it out there in the universe some time ago… because I had “Street Fighter,” etc. -- show me an actor who hasn’t got a couple of turkeys for the credit. But I guess I was starting to think ‘This is not for me…,’ that maybe acting’s in the past. But I had said to friends and I guess I put the energy out there -- what I needed was the Nick Cave of the film world to go ‘You, I know what to do with you. I’m going to bring something from you that I know you can do.’ And, ironically, the only thing that Leos [Carax] knew about me was my duet with Nick Cave.
Yeah, so I think my dream came true.
He really is, like you said, the Nick Cave of the film world. Had he long been on your radar prior to taking this on?
No. I was aware of “The Lovers on the Bridge,” but no -- I had to study his work. First, he sent me the script, which I read. I was really intrigued by the idea, the concept, though I only really grasped it on a linear level - like, ‘Okay, this guy is an actor for hire and he’s doing these things…’ and of course it transpires that it’s way more complex than that. I was definitely intrigued about who are we, which different faces do we present to society. I know I’m a chameleon -- even in music, I’m changing my guise a lot and all of that. We met and just talked really, got to suss each other out. We didn’t talk too much about the character, but enough, and I wasn’t entirely sure when I left the lunch if I was doing it or if I wasn’t doing it. It turned out I was.
There was no audition process or anything and, at the time, I thought 'Oh my god. You’re either a crazy fool or you’re a genius.' I think it was a blessing that he wasn’t clouded by all of the stuff that I’ve done. I think he just went on instinct and on meeting me -- and I think that’s kind of what directors do.
Given you're status as a worldwide megastar, I'd imagine you could approach a director and say, ‘Look. I have this project, I want to be a part of it, you make it.’ But it seems like you’re so humble to the fact that Leos wanted to cast you. What do you attribute that to?
I mean, this is his baby. This is his… life. And my fear was that the inverted commas around my name and what I’ve worked so hard at to create… Is a creation that almost eclipses me. I didn’t want to be in this film and suddenly there’s a right screech, and then, ‘What the hell is Kylie Minogue doing here?’ I’m not Kylie Minogue in that. I managed to get there… I got there. It took a bit of work to get there emotionally; I was walking around like an eggshell for days. It was a beautiful experience, a new challenge, and I thought it was brave of him to cast me.
Fans of yours will no doubt be happy to learn that you sing in the film, but this ain't “The Bodyguard." You just happen to burst out into song.
Well, those were the kind of roles that were offered to me before. ‘So she’s Australian, and she’s a singer in a night club!’ -- I could do that for kicks, I could do that in my sleep. I began as an actress, and I feel like that muscle in me has been neglected. I felt kind to myself that she, or that side of me, had to moment to get some air. It’s done so much for me in myself, aside from the fact that it’s doing great things out there. It’s really taught me a bit about myself; it’s good.
Like… It is in me. I’ve known it was in me, but I lost the faith a little bit. And that’s why I was saying I need ‘the Nick Cave of the film world’ -- someone who’s going to look at me from a different angle and it transpires that it was Claire Denis who recognized something in me and suggested me to Leos. I think it might’ve been for another film, I’m not sure, but it helped to at least put my name into his stratosphere. And Cannes… was the most mind blowing experience.
On page 2, Minogue talks about her first Cannes experience, ideas for her upcoming tour, and her 25th anniversary in the music industry.