As a filmmaker trying to get a movie made, it’s always good when your script appeals to the inner teenage film nerd of Oscar winner Anne Hathaway. That’s exactly what happened to Spanish writer-director Nacho Vigalondo, whose latest film, “Colossal,” follows an alcoholic named Gloria (Hathaway) who discovers that her movements in a playground are controlling a giant monster terrorizing South Korea.
Hathaway signed on to the project when there were no other actors attached — and no financiers — and shortly thereafter, Vigalondo was off to the races. Part of what made her say yes to the movie was its unique combination of comedy, horror and sci-fi that reminded her of the unconventional genre-bending films she loved as a teenager.
“I would have loved this movie and felt so cool knowing it existed,” Hathaway said during an interview Saturday at the Toronto International Film Festival, adding that one of her favorite movies of all time is “Being John Malkovich,” which came out when she was a teenager. “I did this one for my 16-year-old self.”
“Colossal” co-stars Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens and Tim Blake Nelson and is looking to land a distributor.
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Though Hathaway has plenty of experience with blockbusters like Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” one of the things that made her feel comfortable doing a monster movie was the fact that it would be produced independently, as opposed to by a big studio that might be inclined to make “safe” creative choices.
“In those circumstances you’re sometimes encouraged to make fear-based decisions,” Hathaway said. “In this one, it just felt very free spirited, and we were working with an amazing company, Voltage, that trusted their filmmaker.”
Describing the film as the “sci-fi companion” to “Rachel Getting Married,” Hathaway said that watching the movie at its TIFF premiere on Friday night helped confirm her belief that filmgoers will embrace movies that mix genres in untraditional ways. “This movie doesn’t have a clear genre, and I think the audience trusted that and understood that it’s okay to laugh and go to a more emotional, powerful place,” she said. “They don’t negate each other.”
For Vigalondo, having actors like Hathaway and Sudeikis that audiences don’t associate with monster movies fit perfectly with the idea of “Colossal” defying viewers’ expectations. “The fact that it has Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis not only benefits the movie because of how good they are at acting,” he said, “you [also] expect something totally different from what actually happens in the film.”
Hathaway cited the so-called Golden Age of Television as evidence that TV shows today don’t conform to established principles of storytelling, and said it’s only a matter of time before more movies adopt the same “anything goes” philosophy. “I think we’re actually uniquely poised at this moment to be entering a time of post-genre, because we’ve all now been exposed to so many things through awesome television and the history of amazing movies,” she said. “It feels like the next thing is, let’s mix it up a little bit and let’s give you this thing with a twist.”
Sudeikis, who also participated in the interview at TIFF, agreed. “I have so much optimism for an entire generation of artists that are being born now or going through school now because of the internet, cameras and editing equipment that are free packages on their laptops now,” he said. “I think you’re going to see more things that dabble in inventiveness and genre-melding.”
Though he added that he’s confident there will always be a “curious millionaire or two” willing to fund projects from up-and-coming artists, he also expressed interest in personally backing young filmmakers. “I’d love to make $100 million if for no other reason to buy cameras for 12-year-old boys and girls,” he said. “I’d be curious as hell what they come up with.”
“Colossal” premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. It is currently seeking U.S. distribution.