The Knockturnal got the chance to sit down with Xavier Dolan to talk about his career as an actor and director.
Canadian native actor Xavier Dolan has won many awards for his amazing films such as I Killed My Mother, Heartbeats, and his latest Tom at the Farm. Tom at the Farm, which he acted in, directed and produced is just another example of the depth and sentiment of his work. It tells the story of a homosexual man who goes to his lover’s funeral in another town. There, he encounters he’s boyfriend’s family who don’t know about his sexual orientation. It is a movie that challenges the limits of how far one can go when one is experiencing a great level of despair. By seeing the aggressive yet sexual relationship he forms with his lover’s brother, we begin to wonder the extent to which our sanity can be affected when put under similar circumstances.
Is tricky or difficult to direct yourself?
It’s not. The only way that I direct movies is through acting; it is the only thing that I really know. I’ve been an actor since I’m four and the approach that I have, even when I’m not acting in movies, when I’m directing other actors, the only way that I can approach film making is through acting. So it is never weird or demanding for me to be acting in all of my movies. I’d rather be directed by someone else, because then you have someone you want to please. To please yourself is a thing that you know, you are your hardest judge, but I do not have a hard time looking at myself and thinking I was really bad. When I’m directing I’m thinking about acting and when I’m acting I’m thinking of directing. I think of filmmaking when I act. There are notions that you have to understand and think of when you are acting. You have to think of the lighting, how you’re moving, etc. There are many things that actors I feel know, I have experienced so many problems editing films and cutting them thinking I should have done it this way or the other. When I’m acting I’m also thinking of the editing. As much as I would want for it to be natural I just can’t help think about the other departments.
What is passion for you?
I believe it’s something in my genes. I believe that passion is a thing that makes you feel young. I’ve always been passionate about everything I love. I feel like my passion translates through screen in characters, words that they use. I love passionate people, so I love characters fighting for their lives.
One of your greatest strengths as a director is that you know how to trust the audience when it comes to patience and their intelligence. How challenging is it to know when to trust that?
I think it would be very challenging trying to venture into a projection thinking about what the audience would think. I’m just questioning myself, as the public myself, how I would react. I trust the public to have similar reflections than mine, similar feelings and similar expectations towards the story. I have never made a movie thinking how would the public would react. But I am thinking of how my mother would react, how my father would react, how I would react. The three of us have similar mentalities to the majority of the audience. We have three very different sensibilities. I have always done that, I have never tried to please anyone else. What I do however is read every review. They have taught me a lot. I want to know what people see, how people see what I see. Otherwise I’m blind.
Dolan’s works, although they live in a darker rather than humorous place, allow us to have a better perception of the human psychosis. All of his films are extremely enticing and never lack depth. From acting to production, these movies always deliver a story that will affect you. I recommend to anyone who wants to indulge in a movie to look at some of his great work.
The film hits theaters this Friday, August 14.