What is Cronenberg’s involvement? I’ve heard there are no rehearsals.
SG: No, we don’t do rehearsals. But David does a very thorough blocking of the scene before going to camera. It’s like a mini rehearsal where we work out the movement of the scene. But I feel less rehearsal added to the project. There’s so much secrecy, security and mythology surrounding Rob as a person that when you arrive on set and do your scene with this actor and never spend any significant time with them, it feels bizarre. That’s what our characters are like: Two people who don’t know anything about each other. They never seem to find each other and when they’re together and it’s like they’re speaking two different languages. And then they both disappear into the city.
So what commentary does the film make? The book is pretty condemning—
SG: Yeah! This is for the one percent descending from their yacht at Cannes to watch a film that points to a gap in society. I think the movie lends itself to a meta-critique of the film industry. Take casting someone like Rob at the centre of this film. He is the symbol of pop cinema, the symbol of capitalism. The film is about the breakdown of that.
And his character’s so hubristic. He tries to tap into this technological system that’s supposed to order the world around him, the dollars and cents of his life, the free market. And we watch it all fall—really hard.
SG: When I read critiques of the film, I think people miss what you’re saying. They ask, “Why is Robert Pattinson in this movie?” Even for David to cast somebody like me who is blonde, blue-eyed and twenty-five and normally reads scripts where I am hyper sexualized or solve everyone’s problem with my smile. He cast me as a character who will not allow her romantic lead to project anything onto her that she will absorb, it’s kind of unheard of. And there is a difference between [Elise] in the book and the Elise that David wrote. In that the last scene between Eric and Elise, in the book, Eric projects onto an accepting Elise. For me, the best part about ending their narrative in the restaurant, in the movie, is that she ends it and she’s out and that’s it.