Ever since his shocking Oscar-nominated feature “Dogtooth” made the international rounds, Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos has been in the sightlines of many actors intrigued by his surreal, unusual narratives and his subversive black humor. This was first evident in his dystopian comedy “The Lobster,” in which beguiling performances from Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, and John C. Reilly showed the potential for Lanthimos’ deadpan style to unlock new potential among well-known faces; it continued with the nightmarish thriller “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” which brought Nicole Kidman into Lanthimos’ expanding universe. With “The Favourite,” Lanthimos’ wacky queer love triangle set in the halls of the British royalty, Emma Stone and Olivia Colman embrace the devious energy of Lanthimos’ unique approach.
But there’s one major actor who has been eager to work with Lanthimos long before he made inroads to English-language productions. “Cate Blanchett was the first one that reached out,” Lanthimos said, in an interview with IndieWire from New York, while promoting the upcoming release of “The Favourite” and recalling the immediate aftermath of “Dogtooth.” “I’m still in contact with Cate, and we are trying to do something together.”
Blanchett has yet to speak publicly of her affinity for Lanthimos’ work, and representatives for the actress declined to comment. Nevertheless, a collaboration with Lanthimos would be a natural gamble for the A-list performer, whose stable of auteur collaborators includes Woody Allen, Terrence Malick, Todd Haynes, and Martin Scorsese. Lanthimos and Blanchett have overlapped at festivals in recent years: “The Lobster” was in competition at Cannes the same year as Haynes’ “Carol,” and Blanchett was spotted at the Venice International Film Festival premiere of “The Favourite” in late August.
“I’ve been so fortunate to work with great directors,” she told IndieWire in 2013. “In the end, I think that’s driving the conversation.”
Lanthimos added that Weisz reached out to him shortly after he heard from Blanchett — and as the cast of “The Favourite” proves, they weren’t the only actresses drawn to his work. “It was mostly women who reached out,” he said. “I don’t know what that says about my work, the work they were getting, or about male actors.” Regardless, he welcomed them into his domain. “It is true that the way the system works, you need name actors in order to put things together when you make English-language films,” he said. “I took great care in making sure that all these people reaching out wanted to be a part of it because of what the work was, not because something different might happen, and that they actually appreciated the work.”
As Lanthimos continues to collaborate with famous names, the media attention to his experimental processes has intensified. For “The Favourite,” Stone told USA Today that she was asked to “pant like I was giving birth throughout the lines,” even though her character doesn’t give birth in the movie. However, she added, “I think he just does this to everyone.”
Asked about this attention to his process, Lanthimos agreed with Stone’s assessment. “People pick up on things and sometimes they’re blown out of proportion,” he said. “It’s presented as something really strange and unique. I think it’s just that I’ve done theater, and worked with choreographers, so doing exercises while you rehearse is a standard thing. I might have a particular way that’s more humorous or more individualistic, but it’s nothing more than doing exercises and playing games to work with the actors and unlock certain things.”
Fox Searchlight will open “The Favourite” theatrically on November 23, 2018.