Maps to the Stars connects the savage beauty of writer Bruce Wagner’s Los Angeles with the riveting filmmaking of director David Cronenberg and a stellar ensemble cast to take a tour into the darkly comic heart of a Hollywood family chasing celebrity, one another and the relentless ghosts of their pasts. The result is a modern Hollywood Gothic at once about the ravenous 21st Century need for fame and validation -- and the yearning, loss and fragility that lurk in the shadows underneath.
Maps to the Stars connects the savage beauty of writer Bruce Wagner’s Los Angeles with the riveting filmmaking of director David Cronenberg and a stellar ensemble cast to take a tour into the darkly comic heart of a Hollywood family chasing celebrity, one another and the relentless ghosts of their pasts. The result is a modern Hollywood Gothic at once about the ravenous 21st Century need for fame and validation -- and the yearning, loss and fragility that lurk in the shadows underneath.
The incendiary mix of Wagner and Cronenberg has been two decades in the making.
The origins of the story go back to the 1990s when Wagner – then a struggling actor/writer working as a limo driver, not unlike Robert Pattinson’s character in Maps to the Stars – began a screenplay encapsulating his experience of Hollywood. In what would become a major career theme, he dove headlong into all its roiling contradictions: the glory and the wickedness, the ambition and the delusions, the soaring excess and the spectacular falls. The story took many turns over the years, as Wagner developed into an acclaimed novelist and screenwriter, but after a decade, Wagner decided to show it to Cronenberg, since the two had long talked about working together.
“With its themes of the dark side of ambition and fame, I felt only David could make this movie,” says Wagner.
Indeed, though it would take several more years before the project would come together with the right cast and financing, Cronenberg was immediately intrigued by the fearlessness of Wagner’s screenplay, which balanced on a razor-sharp line between comedy, horror and invigorating honesty.
“It’s a story that is really of the moment and it also ferociously attacks the moment we are
living in, culturally, pop-culturally, technologically and in every way, which I really admire. I think that is Bruce’s strength. He is not afraid,” says the director. “The force of Bruce’s script was so compelling and so charismatic, I felt I had to do it.”
Cronenberg is equally known for not flinching from any subject, and for making films that are as challenging and substantial as they are suspenseful and visually compelling. Early in his career, he made a series of vivid, fantastical thrillers including Scanners, Videodrome, The Fly, Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, eXistenZ and Spider. More recently, his filmmaking has become even more expansive with the high-style crime thrillers A History of Violence and Eastern Promises, the psychological, sex- infused historical drama about Freud and Jung, A Dangerous Method, and his adaptation of Cosmopolis which takes place almost entirely in a billionaire’s limousine on one fateful trip through the city.
For Cronenberg, Maps to the Stars was another chance to switch gears entirely – into what he calls “a family drama, just not the usual kind of family drama.”
Indeed the Weiss family at the center of the story includes a self-help guru father, a teen heartthrob son fresh from rehab, a manager mother intent on keeping her son’s price in the stratosphere, and a mysteriously scarred, banished daughter dangerously obsessed with trying to re- enter the family circle. Living amidst the insatiably rich-and-famous, they are neverthless driven and haunted by dark forces they can’t seem to escape.
“Of course a family in Hollywood that has eaten of the Hollywood apple – that has eaten of the desire for celebrity and achievement in the public eye -- is not going to be a normal family,” Cronenberg notes. “Bruce’s father was in the business and he grew up with all of that, so I think he really is able to evoke the distortion and the pressure on a family trying to play the game.”
As outrageously extreme as the Weiss family is, Cronenberg saw Wagner’s script as having more than just satirical bite – and he took a performance-based approach to exploring the complex depths of the characters.
“The interesting thing about Bruce’s script to me is the tension that he creates between satire and a very intense kind of reality,” the director explains. “We could have gone in an exaggeratedly comic way with the Weiss family -- but I wanted to mute that a bit. I wanted to see each character played as realistically and as low-key as possible under their very pressured circumstances.”
Over the years and even during production, Wagner and Cronenberg continued to update the script so that it would feel a part of the immediate now. “Every time we had another go-round at trying to get the movie made, Bruce and I would go through the script and say, ‘Oh, man, we better forget that reference, that's obsolete now,’” explains Cronenberg.
Throughout, Wagner says he trusted Cronenberg implicitly. “There was no compromise in writing this script, for better or for worse. It really came from a place of darkness that I hope becomes light in the end,” comments the writer. “I knew that David understood both the darkness and the light of it, because I think those qualities suffuse all his work. So I felt very grateful and fortunate.” Meanwhile, in 2011 Cronenberg introduced the script to producer Martin Katz, while they were making Cosmopolis, and soon after, the project began taking off in earnest. Says Katz: “I've read a lot of Bruce's novels and I’ve enjoyed reading him in The New Yorker – so I was drawn to the tone of the film. It also marks the very first time David has filmed in the U.S., and since it's a film about celebrity obsession in Western culture, to have the chance to film in Hollywood was both poignant and exciting. It’s fundamental to the story of how this family was formed.”
Once the film got off the ground, Wagner continued to stay close to the creative process, with Cronenberg inviting him to stay on the set and write on-the-fly. Day by day Cronenberg turned to Wagner with queries about subtleties in the dialogue, even pronunciation. “Bruce was a perfect validity check,” says the director. Wagner in turn says: “David was gracious letting me be part of the production, but I really felt that whatever I wrote was, in the best sense, in his hands. And he brought something so mysterious to what I had done.”
Mystery is indeed elemental to Wagner’s screenplay, which is as rife with the undead as any haunted house or Shakespearean tragedy. Cronenberg says finding his way into the ghost story was one of his biggest challenges, for though he has been known to push the edges of sci-fi and horror, he has never been one for the supernaturally numinous.
“I’ve never really been that into the idea of ghosts, because I don’t believe in them,” he explains. “But the idea of being haunted by memories . . . that is very real for me. I understand that completely. I lost my parents many years ago, and I can say that, yes, I'm haunted by them and I can hear them and I can see them and I can feel them. I don’t think of them as ghosts who actually exist somewhere, but they do exist in my memory and my mind. And so to have characters haunted by ghostly memories made perfect sense to me, psychologically and emotionally.”
Wagner notes that ghosts have always been part of the Hollywood landscape – which is a realm of the uncanny, the hidden and the emptied out; and which is itself constructed atop a dense, intangible plasma of mixed-up memories, fleeting hopes and unresolved needs. “There are ghosts of course in Sunset Boulevard,” he says, referring to the Billy Wilder noir classic that was one of several inspirations, “and there are ghosts in this movie, which I think gets to some of the same themes of death, depravity and resurrection, but in a very contemporary way.”
Those themes and the heady admixture of Cronenberg and Wagner was soon attracting an A-list cast, who would embody the excess of their characters with no limits.
At the heart of the story of the Weiss family is one of Stafford Weiss’s biggest celebrity clients: the famous but all-too-quickly fading Havana Segrand, who has long existed in the shadow of her even more legendary mother, classic Hollywood star Clarice Taggart, who perished in a mystifying fire. Taking the roles of Havana and her ghostly matriarch are 4-time Oscar® nominee Julianne Moore and award-winning Canadian actress Sarah Gadon.
Moore was the first cast member to sign onto Maps to the Stars, several years before it was made, and she stayed committed to the role. “There were two big attractions: David Cronenberg and Bruce Wagner,” she explains. “I’ve always wanted to work with David, his work is so assured, so interesting. And Bruce is so imaginative in his writing, so creative, and he really knows how to blend the ridiculous with the sublime. You’ll have a moment of high comedy and then it skids right into something dark and dramatic. So to have that kind of material in the hands of a director like Cronenberg was exciting.”
She saw the story as being partly about Hollywood but also transcending Hollywood to touch on human ambition and hubris in all walks of life. “It’s a commentary on how we live our lives today, but one refracted through the lens of celebrity,” she says. “It’s really more about human nature, about what people want out of the short span of life we have and how blind we are to our mortality.”
Cronenberg was gratified by Moore’s complex, poignant take on Havana and her mounting neuroses. “Julie's so funny, so capable, so adept and nimble,” comments the director. “And once she had her hooks into this character, she required just the slightest bit of guidance here and there. It’s not really a given that an actress can play an actress – actually, many actors don’t like to play actors -- but Julie had such great enthusiasm for this role.”
He continues: “She’s created a kind of glorious monster, an earthy, unashamed monster. She was never intimidated by Havana and was completely unafraid.”
Moore says that her portrait of Havana is based on “an amalgam of people I’ve known and observed. She is someone who lives completely isolated in this make-believe world. She doesn’t really have a family and she’s still very angry with her mother because she feels she was abused. She’s always lived in her mother’s shadow, and in her mind, it’s all a kind of mixed-up, Freudian mess.”
That psychic chaos takes an even darker turn when Havana goes after the part her mother once played in a hot new movie heading into production – but seems to losing ground to younger, more sizzling actresses. In the midst of all this unspeakable dread, Havana starts to see Clarice’s taunting ghost at the most inopportune moments, which gave Sarah Gadon an intriguing part.
Gadon previously worked with Cronenberg on A Dangerous Method and Cosmopolis and he was keen to work with her again. “Sarah is a rising star and we’ve done two movies together,” he says. “This may be the smallest role of the three that we've done -- but the idea of her playing Julianne Moore's mother was completely irresistible. And it's such a lovely, unusual role, because she’s simply this ghostly memory.”
Soon, Havana Segrand’s spectral memories and ultimate fate become unsuspectingly tied up with the Weiss family – especially when Stafford Weiss’s long-lost daughter becomes her latest personal assistant in a long line of unsuccessful partnerships.
At first glance, the family Weiss would seem to have conquered modern life. They certainly have attained fame, material wealth and brand-name recognition, but they also are beset by doubts, bitterness and deep, dark secrets that threaten to uproot their whole lifestyle. Those come to the fore in the person of long-lost, locked-away Agatha.
On the heels of a tragic accident that left her terribly scarred, she has been safely kept at bay in a psychiatric asylum . . . until now. Recently released, she returns to Los Angeles, where she lies low, taking a job with Havana Segrand while scoping out her family from a distance, waiting for the chance to make her move.
Mia Wasikowska -- the rising star who has come to the fore in a series of bold roles ranging from the disturbed gymnast of HBO’s In Treatment to a daughter of artificial insemination in The Kids Are All Right to the title role of Cary Joji Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre – takes the role.
Cronenberg notes that it was not an easy part to cast. “With Agatha, there are many gradually revealed twists and turns, so you need an actress who is extremely subtle. You need someone who feels extremely open and not sinister, who seems innocent, until she reveals the depths of her dangerousness,” he says. “Agatha keeps saying, ‘I just want to make amends’ -- and you have to believe it when she says it, which requires a really wonderful actress like Mia. She is someone I’ve been watching for years, even though she’s very young, and has already done so many beautiful things. When that sinister side comes out of her as Agatha, it’s pretty staggering.”
Wasikowska herself first arrived in Hollywood as a teenager, recalling it as a “completely alien world like nowhere else, with a very specific light and a strong sort of feeling.”
Reading Wagner’s script, she felt he had captured that conflation of the strange and the alluring. “The story is an exaggerated version of life here, but I found it really unsettling,” she says. “The people who seem to have it the most together in the story are also the people who are the most messed up and vice versa. It’s very much a City of Lost Angels.”
Wasikowska was especially attracted to the pendulum dualities of her character. “I love Agatha because she’s dark inside but at the same time in a lot of ways she has this very positive outlook. There’s something very sweet and sad about this girl who, in the midst of these celebrity- obsessed parents, and this troubled past, really just wants to connect with them,” she observes. “They've totally rejected her, but in a way, she's desperately trying to mimic their lives. She’s desperately trying to find her identity.”
Diving deeper into Agatha meant exploring her first from her physicality, notes Wasikowska, who spent several hours in the chair with Academy Award®-winning makeup artist Stephen Dupuis (The Fly) each day to build up Agatha’s charred skin.
“She has the gloves she wears over her burns, the facial scar, and all these rituals with the poem and the pills she takes,” the actress explains. “It’s all very distinct to who she is.”
This film marks Wasikowska’s first time working with Cronenberg. It was trial by fire on her opening day on the set as they shot the scene in which Agatha is beaten by her father, played by John Cusack, after trying to make amends with her mother. “It was a typical sort of initiation for a Cronenberg film,” Wasikowska laughs. “But working with David was wonderful. He’s really kind of soft-spoken and he really trusts you in the character. It’s always interesting that the people who make the most psychologically disturbing films are often the sweetest, kindest people.”
The last person who ever hoped to see Agatha again is the head of the family Weiss: Stafford, a TV psychologist whose “Hour of Personal Power” offers New Age platitudes and watered-down analysis for the masses, while he performs intimate, psychodynamic bodywork on his celebrity clients, including Havana Segrand.
Leaping with full intensity into the role is Golden Globe nominated John Cusack in an intriguing departure. Cusack himself grew from a child actor to a young heartthrob to an acclaimed actor on the public stage, so he has perhaps a unique insight into the dynamics of celebrity life that starts in childhood. On top of that, Cronenberg says Cusack “was not afraid to go right to the darkest depths of this character and yet, somehow, also be very charming and seductive.”
Cusack had met Bruce Wagner decades before when they were both in the film One Crazy Summer, but his script for Maps to the Stars took Cusack by surprise. “It was the most savage deconstruction of Hollywood fame and secrets and that whole toxic brew that I’d ever seen,” he says.
Though Cusack says that Hollywood has always brought the mix of “dreams and fantasy” into the realm of moneymaking, he has noticed that things have shifted even more in the last few years.
“Back when I was starting out, things were different. It never seemed to be about who was the highest paid or what films grossed over the weekend. People weren’t that interested in stalking celebrities to the level of what they had for breakfast or what mean things they said to someone else. That kind of celebrity-obsessed culture was only born ten, fifteen years ago. If you wanted to know things about an actor, you would look into his work, the films he had made – the admiration was a reflection of an actor’s work, not his status.”
Stafford Weiss senses this deep, unmet emotional need all around him and takes it as opportunity. “He sees himself as a healer,” Cusack observes. “He’s part Tony Robbins, part Reiki Master, part shrink. But his son is the real star – he’s a massive teen star of Beiberesque proportions.” In creating Stafford’s fraught relationship with his son – not to mention with the daughter he has tried to keep far from their lives – Cusack especially enjoyed working with Cronenberg for the first time. “There is a fierceness to how David explores things, and it’s exhilarating to be part of that,” Cusack comments. “He tries to reduce everything to its purest essence. Like some others I’ve worked with, Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood, he doesn’t use rehearsal, so you have to really trust your first instincts and try to black everything else out to just let it happen for the camera.”
Producer Martin Katz was thrilled to see what happened when Cusack did that. “As the patriarch of the Weiss family, John is this larger-than-life character, a celebrity guru and author of best-selling self-help books. I find him evil in a very profound way, and yet, there's a charm and fascination behind that makes Stafford Weiss very human and compelling.”
A large part of Stafford’s ego is wrapped up in the lucrative success of his son, teen sensation, star of Bad Babysitter and tabloid bad-boy, Benjie Weiss. Not only is 13 year-old Benjie trying to right the ship of his career after a stint at rehab, he is being chased by his own guilt-induced teen ghost.
Cronenberg was unsure if he could find an actor Benjie’s age who would be capable of tapping into the sharp wit of Bruce Wagner’s dialogue, but he found that quality in Canadian Evan Bird, whom he had seen in the American version of the TV series The Killing.
“There needed in Benjie to be a kind of strange gravitas,” Cronenberg explains. “Amazingly, Evan, when we cast him, was only 12 and he just turned 13 the month before we started shooting -- and yet he had that gravity, that irony and sarcasm, while at same time, you still sense his boyishness and vulnerability.”
Bird was instantly attracted to the challenges of the role. “I love complex stories with deep characters, or it’s just not that fun to do,” he explains. “What interested me about Benjie is that he doesn’t really have love and yet he doesn’t really have limitations, either. So he’s searching for both of those things. He’s making way too much money, he’s being taken advantage of by his parents, and he’s really screwed up.”
Working with John Cusack as Benjie’s exploitative father was also a thrill for Bird. “I was really nervous to meet him because he’s such a big star, but he was so down to earth, not like some people you hear about, but that’s what this movie is about, isn’t it?” Bird muses.
He also was intrigued by playing someone who is quite literally haunted – in Benjie’s case by a sick girl he visits in the hospital purely for the publicity boost. “Benjie has this ghost who will not leave him alone,” Bird explains. “It pisses him off because he wants to be normal. He doesn’t want to be crazy like his sister. And yet he keeps seeing this girl.”
No matter what Benjie does the one person who will always defend him as a hot Hollywood commodity is his manager mother, Cristina. To play her, Cronenberg long had in mind Olivia Williams, known for a wide range of roles from the now-classic ghost story The Sixth Sense to Wes Anderson’s Rushmore and Roman Polanski’s Ghost Writer. He knew he needed a very versatile actress who could not only embody a relentless stage-mom but a woman with a particularly secretive relationship with her husband.
“I’ve had my eye on Olivia for years,” says the director. “She’s fantastic and completely different in each movie. I jumped at the chance to cast her in this role because I felt that she could really evoke the kind of character who's come to L.A. from somewhere else, but is ready to ferociously play the Hollywood game, the celebrity mother game. And she and John make for a very charismatic couple. They needed to have a sort of a heat that has gone wrong, a destructive magnetism between them.”
On first read, Williams found the script both hilarious and terrifying. “It’s dangerously funny as satire,” she describes. “But it’s also about some serious things -- the subconscious, madness, paranoia, suppressing the truth – and I found that it was incredibly moving and heartfelt at the same time as being absurd.”
Williams was also drawn to Cristina’s plummeting trajectory. “She is a very ambitious woman and we get to see her downfall from the very heights of her power,” she says. “She operates in a world where someone could be the nastiest person on earth and make your life hell, but you might still want them in your movie because they'll make you make money.”
Certainly, Benjie Weiss is no dream to work with – hurling invectives at agents and executives when he’s not all-out partying, despite his tender years -- but Cristina is more concerned with his future than his psyche. Yet there are even deeper family issues roiling beneath Cristina’s aggressive focus on her son. Williams coyly notes, “Let’s just say that John Cusack and I have a very complicated on-screen relationship that is – what’s the word? – incendiary.”
When Agatha Weiss returns to Los Angeles, she makes an instant connection with the first person she encounters: her limo driver, a would-be screenwriter who chauffeurs the far more successful, and who becomes increasingly entangled in her larger-than-life drama.
Taking the role of Jerome is leading star Robert Pattinson, who wanted to work with Cronenberg again on the heels of taking the lead role in Cosmopolis (coincidentally, Pattinson played a billionaire who is a limo passenger throughout that film.)
He was one of the first cast members to sign on, which Martin Katz says helped buoy the project. “Robert’s enthusiasm for Maps to the Stars is one of the things that really got us underway. Jerome is not a large role but it’s very significant in the story and his joining the cast gave us a terrific amount of momentum,” recalls the producer. “In a sense he is playing Bruce Wagner, who was himself at one time a limo driver and unemployed writer.”
Cronenberg was thrilled to reunite with Pattinson, and in such a different kind of role. “I think Rob was really happy to be part of an ensemble,” he says. “But Jerome is also a critical character, a lovely character and it was a chance for Rob to give a more naturalistic performance. I knew he would be fabulous and he was.”
Pattinson’s experience working on Cosmopolis with Cronenberg was so profound that he agreed to the role of Jerome before reading the script. But when he finally sat down to read it, he recalls, “Within two pages I was thinking wow, this is so unbelievably different and hilarious. I don't even know what people are going to make of this, but it feels dangerous. It’s sort of satirical but it’s also a ghost story and it’s also a kind of thriller. It defies genre.”
He came to see Maps to the Stars as more than just another L.A. story. “It’s really about people who lie to themselves – right up until the end,” he summarizes.
Yet within all that, Pattinson sees Jerome as the most ordinary of the film’s roster of outrageously deluded and desperate characters -- typical of a certain kind of everyday L.A. dreamer, a regular guy with a regular job who nevertheless always believes he is just one move away from becoming a major actor and writer.
“Jerome would never accept that he is just a limo driver. I think he feels he’s just waiting for his break,” Pattinson observes. “And yet, he’s seemingly the only one in this story who's not going insane -- or who isn’t a ghost. He's a fairly normal guy, which is slightly odd for me, as well.”
Working with his fellow cast members was another big draw for Pattison. Of Julianne Moore, he says: “She’s hilarious and also very sane, which is kind of ironic given who Havana Segrand is. And she shifts so subtly into character, you barely notice what she is doing. It’s kind of amazing.”
He worked most closely with Mia Wasikowska as Agatha, who comes to rely on Jerome as her sole friend in the city. “I knew Mia was going to be wonderful in this,” he says. “She’s so lovely that it was horrible for me to watch Agatha be bullied by her entire family.”
For Cronenberg, the chance to work with cast members like Pattinson and Gadon multiple times is one of the most gratifying aspects of his career. “It's really beautiful for me to see that blossoming and the evolution of actors as I work with them,” he concludes.
While many interiors of Maps to the Stars were shot in Toronto, there was little doubt that the production would shoot in Los Angeles, to capture that very specific psychosphere – that strange brew of glamour and decay, creative highs and desperate lows -- that cannot be imitated.
Says Martin Katz, “Los Angeles really is another main character in this film. This is a film about the way people's perspective on success is distorted by celebrity culture -- and there's nowhere in the world where that's more significant, or more poignantly visible, than in Los Angeles.”
Shooting for the first time in the city – indeed for the first time in the United States at all -- was an inspiration for Cronenberg. “We only shot five days in LA, but we really made those days count. I mean, my mantra was, ‘I won't do any shot without a palm tree in it,’ and I almost achieved that,” he remarks.
He worked with a crew of long-time, award-winning collaborators to bring to life a realm bursting not only with hustlers and lost dreamers, but also with dead spirits and searing flames. The team included cinematographer Peter Suschitzky, who has been working with Cronenberg since Dead Ringers; production designer Carol Spier, who has worked with Cronenberg throughout his career and most recently designed Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim; costume designer Denise Cronenberg, who has worked with her brother since 1986’s The Fly; editor Ron Sanders, who makes his 17th feature film with Cronenberg with Maps to the Stars; Oscar®-winning make-up artist Stephen Dupuis and three- time Academy Award®-winning composer Howard Shore.
His mandate to the crew was to let the atmosphere of L.A. permeate the story. “Here, the city is like a dense rain forest from which you can hardly escape,” he describes. “It grabs the characters, it magnetizes them, it sucks them in. Partly they can't escape because it doesn't let them think they want to escape. And yet, you can see in all the characters there's desperation and a desire to get away. But they can't. They can't.”
Contrary to his usual instincts, Cronenberg maximized his use of tourist hotspots. “Unlike Eastern Promises, where we shot in London but deliberately avoided all the iconic London spots, Maps to the Stars is very much about iconic Hollywood. Therefore, we shot on Rodeo Drive, at the Chateau Marmont, under the Hollywood sign and on Hollywood Boulevard. It was hitting the high spots. And, honestly, it was the first time in my life that I've ever shot anything in the US. Even though many of my movies are set in the US, I've never shot a foot of film in the US until Maps to the Stars.”
Throughout, even when the production was shooting in Toronto, Bruce Wagner served as a Hollywood tour guide for Cronenberg. I could always ask him ‘would they do this in L.A.?’ or ‘would a street look like that in L.A.?’ And that led to subtle, but crucial, moments of authenticity,” he describes.
Ultimately, Cronenberg’s map of modern Los Angeles – and perhaps of contemporary culture itself -- is lined with psychic pitfalls and shadows but also lit up by human vibrancy. “The city in the film is a deadly beauty,” he concludes. “It’s like a Venus fly trap, where each of these characters is swallowed up by their obsessions with success, celebrity and money.”
One of today’s most versatile and charismatic actresses, JULIANNE MOORE (Havana Segrand) is known for her breadth of work with many memorable performances in everything from comedy to drama, blockbusters to art house fare, and from the big to the small screen.
Moore was recently seen alongside Liam Neeson in Universal’s action-thriller Non-Stop and in Kimberly Pierce’s remake of the cult classic horror film Carrie. Later this year, she be seen as President Alma Coin in Lionsgate’s popular franchise The Hunger Games: Mockingjay with Jennifer Lawrence and Philip Seymour Hoffman which will release on November 24th, and opposite Jeff Bridges in the sweeping fantasy adventure The Seventh Son.
Moore is the ninth person in history to receive two acting Oscar® nominations in the same year for her performances in Far From Heaven (Best Actress nomination) and The Hours (Best Supporting Actress nomination), after receiving many critics’ awards as well as SAG and Golden Globe nominations for both. Moore is a four-time Academy Award® nominee, eight-time Golden Globe nominee, six-time SAG Award nominee, four-time BAFTA nominee, and a three-time Independent Spirit Award nominee winning in 2003 for Far From Heaven. In 2012, she won the Primetime Emmy award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for her role as Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in the HBO original movie Game Change. This role also garnered wins at the 2013 SAG Awards and Golden Globe Awards. Her additional honors include the Excellence in Media Award at the 2004 GLAAD Media Awards, the Silver Bear Award at the 2003 Berlin International Film Festival, the 2002 Copa Volti as Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival, the Actor Award at the 2002 Gotham Awards and the “Tribute to Independent Vision” at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival.
Moore’s notable films include Crazy, Stupid, Love; The Kids Are All Right; A Single Man; The Forgotten; What Maisie Knew; The English Teacher; Laws Of Attraction; Chloe; 6 Souls; Blindness; Savage Grace; I’m Not There; Children Of Men; Hannibal; Jurassic Park: The Lost World; The Fugitive; Nine Months; Benny & Joon; The Hand That Rocks The Cradle; The End Of The Affair; Boogie Nights; Magnolia; Cookie’s Fortune; Short Cuts; Don Jon Gus Van Sant’s re-make of Psycho; Safe; Vanya On 42nd Street; Surviving Picasso; and The Big Lebowski.
An accomplished author, Moore recently released her fourth book My Mother is a Foreigner, But Not to Me, based on her experiences growing up with a mother from Scotland. Her previous work includes the successful children’s book series– Freckleface Strawberry, Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully, and Freckleface Strawberry Best Friends Forever. Inspired by the book’s main character, Freckleface Strawberry, in 2013 Moore released her Monster Maker app via iTunes which allows users to make their own monster to send to family and friends. Julianne most recently unveiled her second app Dreamtime Playtime, an app that encourages math skills at a very early age. The original book was also adapted into a successful off-Broadway musical.
After earning her B.F.A. from Boston University for the Performing Arts, Moore starred in a number of off-Broadway productions, including Caryl Churchill’s “Serious Money” and “Ice Cream/Hot Fudge” at the Public Theater. She appeared in Minneapolis in the Guthrie Theater’s “Hamlet” and participated in workshop productions of Strindberg’s “The Father” with Al Pacino and Wendy Wasserstein’s “An American Daughter” with Meryl Streep. Moore made her Broadway debut in 2006 in the Sam Mendes production of “The Vertical Hour,” an original play written by David Hare.
In a short time, MIA WASIKOWSKA (Agatha Weiss) has established herself as a rising star of the big screen. A trained ballerina turned actress, Wasikowska has been challenging herself as a performer since the age of 9.
Wasikowska made her debut to US audiences as the tormented and suicidal teen Sophie in HBO’s series In Treatment. Directed by Rodrigo Garcia, In Treatment focused on the relationship between a therapist (Gabriel Byrne) and his patients. In recognition of her performance, Wasikowska was honored by the Los Angeles based organization Australians in Film (whose Host Committee includes Cate Blanchett, Naomi Watts, Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, among others) with the Breakthrough Actress Award. The series was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Drama Series.
In January 2009, Wasikowska was seen in a supporting role in the film Defiance. Based on a true story, three Jewish brothers (Daniel Craig, Liev Schrieber and Jamie Bell) escape from Nazi- occupied Poland into the Belarusan forest where they encounter a village of Russian resistance fighters. Wasikowska plays Chaya, a young villager who builds a relationship with one of the brothers.
The war film, directed by Ed Zwick was distributed by Paramount Vantage.
In 2009, Wasikowska appeared in a supporting role in Fox Searchlight’s film, Amelia starring Hilary Swank and Richard Gere for director Mira Nair. Wasikowska portrayed Elinor, a young fan of Earhart whose motivations for building a relationship with Earhart are questioned by her reliable friend George (Gere). During the same month, Wasikowska shared the screen with Hal Holbrook in the independent picture That Evening Sun directed by Scott Teems. Wasikowska earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role as a naïve Tennessee teenager.
Mia starred as the title character in Tim Burton’s retelling of the Lewis Carrol novel, Alice in Wonderland. The Disney live and 3-D animated film co-starred Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Michael Sheen and Alan Rickman. The same summer, Wasikowska co-starred in the Academy Award® nominated film The Kids Are All Right with Annette Bening, Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo. The Lisa Cholodenko film was also recognized with an Independent Spirit Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Film. In the Focus Features film, Wasikowska portrayed the teenage daughter of lesbian parents who sets out to find her sperm donor father.
In 2011, Wasikowska tackled the lead role in Jane Eyre in director Cary Fukunaga’s screen adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel. The film released to worldwide critical acclaim, praising the performances of Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. Also that year, Wasikowska starred in another lead role in the Gus Van Sant directed film Restless alongside Henry Hopper. Produced by Imagine Entertainment with Bryce Dallas Howard, Wasikowska is Annabel, a terminally ill girl who falls in love with a death-obsessed teenage boy. The script was penned by first-time screenwriter Jason Lew. An official selection of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, Restless was released by Sony Classics.
Wasikowska ended 2011 co-starring opposite Glenn Close and Janet McTeer in the Roadside Attractions drama Albert Nobbs. The period drama gave Wasikowska the opportunity to re-team with her In Treatment director Rodrigo Garcia. In August 2012, Wasikowska appeared in a supporting role in the Weinstein feature, Lawless opposite Shia Laboef, Tom Hardy and Jessica Chastain. The film is based on the non-fiction novel by Matt Bondurant, set during Prohibition in rural Virginia.
In 2013, Wasikowska starred opposite Nicole Kidman and Matthew Goode in the Fox
Searchlight dramatic thriller Stoker. The film, directed by Chan-wook Park from a screenplay by actor Wentworth Miller, tells the story of a teenage girl (Wasikowska), who, while mourning the death of her father is introduced to her uncle who mysteriously shows up to meet the family.
Wasikowska was most recently seen starring in The Double, opposite Jesse Eisenberg. The comedy, directed by Richard Ayoade and inspired by the Fyodor Dostoyevsky novel, tells a story of a man driven crazy from an appearance of his doppelganger. Wasikowska also appears in the Jim Jarmusch film Only Lovers Left Alive alongside Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston and Anton Yelchin. The story focuses on two vampires whose love has endured over the course of several centuries. Also in 2014, Wasikowska will star in the John Curran film Tracks that was shot in rural Australia. Based on a true story, Wasikowska portrays Robyn Davidson, a young woman who embarks on a 1,700 mile trek across the deserts of West Australia with her four camels and faithful dog. Adam Driver (HBO’s Girls) plays the photographer assigned to document the adventure.
Wasikowska recently wrapped production on Madame Bovary starring alongside Paul Giamatti and Ezra Miller and directed by Sophie Barthes. The film based on the Gustave Flaubert novel, centers around a beautiful wife of a small-town doctor who engages in extra martial affairs in order to advance her social status. Wasikowska is now filming Guillermo Del Toro’s Crimson Peak. The film also stars Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain.
Wasikowska made her directorial debut (with individual but connected segments) in The Turning, an adaptation of Tim Winton’s best-selling short story collection that was shot in Sydney, Australia and premiered in August 2013.
Wasikowska began her acting career in her home country of Australia, landing a recurring role on the popular medical drama All Saints. Upon securing her first major role in the independent film Suburban Mayhem, Wasikowska was recognized by the Australian Film Institute Awards for Best Young Actor. She followed up these projects with acclaimed performances in Lens Love Story, Skin (a short film,) September, and in the Australian horror film Rogue alongside Michael Vartan and Radha Mitchell.
With an impressive body of work spanning the course of two decades, JOHN CUSACK (Dr. Stafford Weiss) has evolved into one of Hollywood’s most accomplished and respected actors of his generation, garnering both critical acclaim as well as prestigious accolades for his dramatic and comedic roles. In April 2012, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce presented Cusack with the 2,469th Hollywood Walk of Fame star, honoring his long, ground-breaking career in film.
Cusack first gained the attention of audiences by starring in a number of 1980s film classics such as The Sure Thing, Say Anything and Sixteen Candles. Following these roles, Cusack successfully shed his teen-heartthrob image by demonstrating his ability to expand his film repertoire by starring in a wide range of dramas, thrillers and comedies including The Grifters, Eight Men Out, Being John Malkovich, High Fidelity and Grosse Pointe Blank.
Most recently, Cusack starred in the independent film Adult World, which premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival and was released by IFC Films. He also starred alongside Robert De Niro in the crime thriller The Bag Man. In 2013, Cusack was seen in the psychological thriller The Frozen Ground, in which he reunited with Nicolas Cage and in Lee Daniel’s The Butler as President Richard Nixon.
Cusack will next be seen in the sci-fi thriller Cell, adapted from the Stephen King novel of the same title, starring opposite Samuel L. Jackson; and Love and Mercy, in which he plays iconic Beach Boys songwriter and musician Brian Wilson opposite Elizabeth Banks and Paul Giamatti.
In 2012, Cusack appeared in Lee Daniels’ drama, The Paperboy. Cusack co-starred opposite Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron and Matthew McConaughey as Hillary Van Wetter, an inmate on death row.
The Paperboy debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2012.
Cusack also starred in the independent thriller The Raven, where he portrayed the infamous author, Edgar Allen Poe. The film, directed by James McTiegue and produced by Marc D. Evans, tells fictionalized account of the last days of Poe's life, in which the poet is in pursuit of a serial killer whose murders mirror those in the writer's stories.
Cusack also starred in Hot Tub Time Machine, an R-rated comedy centered on a group of adult men, portrayed by Cusack, Rob Cordry (What Happens in Vegas), Craig Robinson (The Office) and Clark Duke (Greek) who take a trip back to the ski lodge where they partied as youths and are transported back in time to 1987 by the hot tub, a bubbly time machine. Cusack produced the film through his New Crime Productions banner. The film was released by MGM in March of 2010.
Additionally, in 2009 he starred in Roland Emmerich’s apocalyptic thriller, 2012. Released by Sony Pictures, the international blockbuster went on to gross more than $766 million worldwide. In this science fiction film, Cusack and co-stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Woody Harrelson, Danny Glover, Amanda Peet and Oliver Platt face natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, typhoons and glaciers as a result of the world and Mayan calendar ending in the year 2012.
In spring of 2008, Cusack starred, wrote and produced the political satire, War Inc. The film also starred Joan Cusack, Marissa Tomei, Hilary Duff and Sir Ben Kingsley and was produced under his New Crime Productions banner. The film was shot in Sofia, Bulgaria and was directed by Joshua Seftel. Cusack wrote the screenplay with Jeremy Pikser and Mark Leyner. In the film, Cusack plays the role of a hit man hired to kill the CEO of a major corporation. Set in the future in the desert town of Turagistan, Cusack finds himself torn between obligation and love. Additionally in 2008, Cusack’s voice was featured in MGM’s animated feature Igor.
In 2007, Cusack starred in Grace Is Gone, which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and was recognized with the Audience Award. In the film, Cusack plays Stanley Phillips, a young father who takes his two daughters on an impulsive road trip upon learning that his wife, Grace, has been killed in service in Iraq. The film was written and directed by James C. Strouse, produced under Cusack’s New Crime Productions banner and distributed by The Weinstein Company. That same year, Cusack starred opposite Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt and Joan Cusack as a writer who, crushed by the death of his fiancé, adopts a six year old boy who is convinced he is from Mars in the romantic comedy Martian Child. The film was directed by Menno Meyjes and written by Seth Bass and Jonathan Tolins.
Cusack also starred in the box office hit 1408 for Dimension Films. In this film, Cusack plays the role of Mike Enslin, a supernatural phenomena specialist who sets out to prove that a haunted New York hotel is just an urban legend. As research for his novel, Enslin stays in the notorious room 1408 only to discover the hard way that these myths and coincidences are in fact anything but. The film was directed by Mikael Hafstrom and the story was adapted by Matt Greenberg, Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski from the Stephen King novel of the same title.
In 2005, Cusack starred opposite Billy Bob Thornton in the dark comedy, The Ice Harvest. Based on a Scott Phillips novel, Harold Ramis directed the film for Focus Features. The previous year in Runaway Jury, he stared opposite Hollywood legends Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman. The film was based on John Grisham’s best selling novel of the same title and was directed by Gary Fleder. In 2003, Cusack joined Amanda Peet, Alfred Molina and Ray Liotta in the thriller Identity, directed by James Mangold for Columbia Pictures.
In the controversial film, Max, directed by Menno Meyjes and released by Lions Gate in December 2002, Cusack portrayed Max Rothman, an elegant, sophisticated former cavalry officer who returns to his native Munich to set up an art gallery, when he meets another aspiring artist, a young Adolf Hitler (played by Noah Taylor). The film, which Cusack also produced, garnered strong reactions at the 2002 Toronto Film Festival and has been debated extensively throughout the country because of its controversial subject matter.
In 2001, Cusack was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical for his role in the feature version of Nick Hornby's English novel, High Fidelity, for Touchstone Pictures. In addition to starring in the film, Cusack also co- produced and co-wrote the script with Steve Pink and D.V. DeVincentis. The film also stars Jack Black, Lisa Bonet, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Joan Cusack.
In 1999, Cusack starred in the dark comedy Being John Malkovich for USA Films. Cusack’s performance earned him an Independent Spirit Award nomination in the category of Best Actor. That year, Cusack also co-starred in Cradle Will Rock, an ensemble drama written and directed by Tim Robbins, portraying Nelson Rockefeller opposite an ensemble cast that included Emily Watson, Cary Elwes, Angus McFadden, Susan Sarandon, Hank Azaria, John Turturro, Ruben Blades and Vanessa Redgrave. He also starred with Billy Bob Thornton, Angelina Jolie and Cate Blanchett in Mike Newell’s comedy Pushing Tin. In the same year, he starred in HBO’s The Jack Bull, a traditional Western written by his father Dick Cusack. John served as executive producer on this film along with Steve Pink and D.V. DeVincentis under his New Crime Productions banner.
In December 1998, Cusack appeared in the World War II combat epic, The Thin Red Line, based on the James Jones novel about the Battle of Guadalcanal. Directed by Terrence Malick for 20th Century Fox, the ensemble cast included George Clooney, Woody Harrelson, Nick Nolte, Gary Oldman, Sean Penn, Bill Pullman and John Travolta.
In 1997, Cusack starred opposite Joan Cusack, Dan Aykroyd and Minnie Driver in Buena Vista Pictures, Grosse Pointe Blank. Cusack received rave reviews for the comedy that he also produced and co-wrote about a hit man who goes through a spiritual crisis during his high school reunion. This was the first project New Crime developed and produced under their banner.
Also in 1997, Cusack starred with Nicolas Cage, John Malkovich and Steve Buscemi in Buena Vista's blockbuster, Con Air from director Simon West. Later that year he starred with Kevin Spacey in the Warner Bros. feature, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil directed by Clint Eastwood. Based on John Berendt's nonfiction bestseller of the same name, Cusack portrayed John Kelso, the movie version of the author/narrator. Additionally, Cusack lent his voice to FOX's full-length animated feature, Anastasia, opposite the voices of Meg Ryan as Anastasia, Christopher Lloyd as Rasputin and Kelsey Grammer as Vladimir.
In 1995, Cusack starred opposite Al Pacino in Castle Rock's political thriller, City Hall, directed by Harold Becker for Columbia Pictures. In 1994, he re-teamed with Woody Allen, who cast him in the 1991 film Shadows and Fog, to portray playwright David Shayne in the acclaimed Bullets Over Broadway for Miramax. The ensemble cast included Chazz Palminteri, Jennifer Tilly, Dianne Wiest and Tracey Ullman. Some of his other feature film credits include The Road to Wellville, True Colors, Broadcast News, Stand By Me and Better Off Dead. Cusack also starred in several romantic comedies, including Miramax’s Serendipity, directed by Peter Chelsom and co-starring Kate Beckinsale; as well as starring with Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Billy Crystal in America’s Sweethearts for Sony Pictures.
While EVAN BIRD (Benjie Weiss) is best known for portraying the role of Tommy Larson on AMC’s critically acclaimed drama The Killing, his acting career started at the young age of 8 when he booked a national commercial for Mercedes Benz. In addition to The Killing, Evan’s television credits include: Falling Skies, Fringe, The Haunting Hour, Psych and Caprica. In 2012, Evan starred opposite Vincent D’Onofrio in Jennifer Lynch’s psychological thriller Chained.
OLIVIA WILLIAMS (Cristina Weiss) earned a degree in English at Cambridge University before studying drama at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. As a member of The Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre she toured the US in “Richard III” starring Ian McKellen. A role in Jane Austen's “Emma” brought her to the attention of Kevin Costner who chose her for his film The Postman in which she made her feature debut.
Best known to international audiences for her starring roles in M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense and Wes Anderson's definitive film Rushmore, Olivia Williams continues to demonstrate her versatility with a range of projects across film, television and theatre. She appeared in nineteen episodes of Fox’s Dollhouse, the television series from Avengers director Joss Whedon, and in the The Heart of Me opposite Helena Bonham Carter and Paul Bettany, for which she was named Best Actress at the 2003 British Independent Film Awards. Williams appeared in the 2009 Oscar®-nominated release An Education, which garnered a SAG nomination for Best Ensemble Cast, and Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer opposite Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, and Kim Cattrall.
For her work on The Ghost Writer, Williams won ‘Best Supporting Actress’ from the National Society of Film Critics, ‘British Supporting Actress of the Year’ at the London Critics’ Circle Film Awards, ‘Best Supporting Actress’ at the International Cinephile Society, and runner up for ‘Best Supporting Actress’ at the Los Angeles Film Critics’ Awards. That year also saw the Ian Dury biopic Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, with Andy Serkis and Ray Winstone.
On stage, Williams appeared with Tom Hollander at the Donmar Warehouse in John Osborne's “Hotel in Amsterdam” (2003) and starred with Tom Hiddleston in “The Changeling” directed by Cheek By Jowl at The Barbican Theatre. Williams received excellent reviews for her performance as Kitty in The National Theatre's 2008 production of “Happy Now?” and as The Princess in Shakespeare's “Love's Labours Lost.” Recently Williams was in Neil LaBute’s “In A Forest Dark And Deep” in London’s West End opposite Matthew Fox.
On television, Williams starred in the Fox sci-fi drama Dollhouse (2009 – 2010) with Eliza Dushku and Harry Lennix. She previously starred in the title role of the BBC biographical drama Miss Austen Regrets with Hugh Bonneville, based on the life and letters of Jane Austen, and in the title role in the BBC drama Agatha Christie: A Life in Pictures (2004) and docudrama Krakatoa: The Last Days.
In 2011 Williams was in the Focus Features film Hanna directed by Joe Wright with Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett and Erik Bana. More recently Williams portrayed Eleanor Roosevelt in the Focus Features film Hyde Park on Hudson directed by Roger Michell reuniting her with Bill Murray, and the Universal Pictures film Anna Karenina directed by Joe Wright with Matthew MacFadyen and Jude Law.
In 2013 and 2014 Williams joined Ruairi Robinson’s Last Days on Mars, chosen for the Cannes Directors' Fortnight, starring opposite Liev Schreiber, and in Legendary’s Seventh Son directed by Sergei Bodrov with Julianne Moore and Jeff Bridges. She takes the lead in the Open Road Films feature Sabotage directed by David Ayer with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terrence Howard and Mireille Enos. She recently filmed with Bill Nighy in the third part of David Hare's Worricker Trilogy: Salting The Battlefied.
Williams has appeared in Sundance co-founder Paul Rachman's Four Dogs Playing Poker, Peter Cattaneo's Lucky Break, Born Romantic opposite Craig Ferguson and Adrian Lester , The Body opposite Antonio Banderas, and starred alongside Tim Roth, Dougray Scott and Rupert Everett in To Kill A King; as Mrs Darling in PJ Hogan's Peter Pan (2003), and in Tara Road, based on the Maeve Binchy bestseller. In addition, her voice was heard as 'Victoria' in the popular animated film Valiant. Williams also starred in Baillie Walsh's Flashbacks of a Fool as Daniel Craig's mother.
ROBERT PATTINSON (Jerome Fontana) is best known for his portrayal of the vampire Edward Cullen in The Twilight Saga. Most recently, Pattinson appeared on screen in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis and will be seen this summer in David Michôd’s The Rover, in which he’s paired with Guy Pearce. He recently wrapped work on Werner Herzog’s Queen of the Desert opposite Nicole Kidman. Currently, Anton Corbijn is directing Pattinson in Life, a film about the friendship between Life magazine photographer Dennis Stock, played by Pattinson, and James Dean, played by Dane Dehaan.
Pattinson gained industry notice at 19 years of age when he joined the Harry Potter franchise in Mike Newell‘s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, playing Cedric Diggory, Hogwarts’ official representative in the Triwizard Tournament. Last year, Pattinson starred in Water For Elephants, joining director Francis Lawrence and costars Reese Witherspoon and Christoph Waltz in bringing the New York Times bestselling novel to the screen. Prior, he headlined the drama Remember Me, directed by Allen Coulter, appearing opposite Pierce Brosnan, Chris Cooper and Emilie De Ravin. Pattinson starred in Bel Ami, a film based on the novel of the same name written by Guy de Maupassant in which he played a young journalist in Paris who betters himself through his connections to the city’s most glamorous and influential women, played by Uma Thurman,Kristin Scott Thomas and Christina Ricci.
Pattinson began his professional career with a role in Uli Edel’s Sword of Xanten, opposite Sam West and Benno Furmann. He also appeared in director Oliver Irving’s How to Be, winner of the Slamdance Film Festival’s Special Honorable Mention for Narrative Feature. Pattinson played the lead role of Salvador Dali in Little Ashes, directed by Paul Morrison. His television credits include “The Haunted Airman” for the BBC.
As a member of the Barnes Theatre Group, Pattinson played the lead role in Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town.” Other stage credits include Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes,” “Tess of the D’Urbevilles” and “Macbeth” at the OSO Arts Centre.
SARAH GADON (Clarice Taggart) first appeared on stage at age 8 as a lamb in the National Ballet of Canada’s production of “The Nutcracker.” Gadon attended Claude Watson School for the Performing arts and began her professional acting career at 10. Sarah’s passion for performing led her to pursue a degree in Cinema Studies at the University of Toronto, where she continues to explore and write about the art of cinema and the great auteurs.
When Sarah sent her audition tape to David Cronenberg, the great Canadian director liked what he saw and cast her in A Dangerous Method, as Emma Jung. Sarah appeared in Cronenberg’s next film, an adaptation of Don DeLillo's Cosmopolis and in Brandon Cronenberg’s directorial debut Antiviral, both of which screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012.
In 2014, Sarah will begin production on The Girl King directed by Mika Kaurismäki. This year will also see the release of a number of films Sarah has lent her talent to, including the animated feature The Nut Job, Enemy by Oscar Nominated director Denis Villeneuve, Belle the British period drama directed by Amma Asante, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 directed by Mark Webb, Gary Shore’s Dracula Untold for Universal/Legendary, and once again with David Cronenberg in Maps to the Stars.
DAVID CRONENBERG’s (Director, Screenwriter) reputation as an auteur has been firmly established by his uniquely personal body of work which includes: Shivers, Rabid, Fast Company, The Brood, Scanners, Videodrome, The Fly, Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, Crash, eXistenZ, The Dead Zone, M. Butterfly, Spider and Cosmopolis. Cronenberg has collaborated with Viggo Mortensen on three of his films: A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, and A Dangerous Method. Most recently, he completed the filming of Maps to the Stars, scripted by novelist Bruce Wagner and starring Julianne Moore, John Cusack and Mia Wasikowska.
Frequently lauded as one of the world’s greatest and most influential directors, Cronenberg’s films have earned him critical praise and recognition internationally. In 1999, he presided over the jury at the Cannes Film Festival and was awarded the Festival’s lifetime achievement award, the Carrosse d'Or, in 2006. Also that year, Cronenberg worked with the Art Gallery of Ontario as a guest curator for the exhibition Andy Warhol/Supernova: Stars, Deaths and Disasters, 1962-1964. He created an innovative soundtrack audio guide with additional commentary by several of Warhol’s contemporaries, including actor Dennis Hopper, film critic Amy Taubin, and artist James Rosenquist. In 2008, Cronenberg brought his film The Fly to the stage as an opera for the Théâtre du Châtelet and LA Opera. Howard Shore composed the music, and David Henry Hwang wrote the libretto.
Recognition of Cronenberg’s contribution to art and culture has included an appointment as an Officer to the Order of Canada in 2003, investiture in France’s Order of Arts and Letters in 1990 and the Légion d’Honneur in 2009. Cronenberg was made a Fellow of the British Film Institute in 2011.
During Cronenberg’s studies at the University of Toronto, he became interested in film and made two 16mm shorts: Transfer, and From the Drain. Shortly after he made his first films in 35mm: Stereo and Crimes of the Future, both shot in the late 1960s. In those works, he established and explored some of the themes and concerns that would characterize and define much of his later work – including violence and sexuality, reality and altered reality, and social satire and biological horror.
Cronenberg's first commercial feature was 1975's Shivers (a.k.a. They Came From Within or The Parasite Murders), which became one of the fastest-recouping movies in the history of Canadian film. Within a decade, he was making formidable films, such as Videodrome and The Dead Zone, for major studios. The Dead Zone won three out of the five prizes at the Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival, as well as seven Edgar Allan Poe Award nominations.
His next films were The Fly, a remake of the 1958 horror classic, which won the Academy Award for Best Makeup (1987); and Dead Ringers, starring Jeremy Irons, which earned Cronenberg the Best Director award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Cronenberg's Naked Lunch, adapted from William S. Burroughs's novel and works, garnered him the National Society of Film Critics award for Best Director, and the New York Film Critics Circle's citations for Best Screenplay.
Naked Lunch also won eight Genie Awards (Canada's equivalent of the Academy Award), including Best Picture and Best Director.
Crash brought him a Special Jury Prize at the 1996 Cannes International Film Festival, in addition to multiple Genie Awards. eXistenZ won the Silver Bear Award at the 1999 Berlin International Film Festival. A History of Violence, starring his Eastern Promises leading man Viggo Mortensen, received a host of accolades, including Best Director and Best Film on the Village Voice Film Critics Poll, as well as two Academy Award nominations.
Cronenberg’s most recent short films are The Nest, Camera, and At the Suicide of the Last Jew in the World in the Last Cinema in the World. The Nest and Camera were both commission by the Toronto International Film Festival. Cronenberg starred in At the Suicide of the Last Jew in the World in the Last Cinema in the World, which was made for the Chacun son cinema collection of films commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Cannes International Film Festival. Cronenberg has also acted in Gus Van Sant's To Die For, Clive Barker's Nightbreed and Don McKellar's Last Night.
Retrospectives of Cronenberg's work have been held in Japan, the U.S., the U.K., France, Brazil, Italy, Portugal, and Canada. Books on Cronenberg and his films include The Shape of Rage – the Films of David Cronenberg, The Artist as Monster: The Cinema of David Cronenberg, Cronenberg on Cronenberg and a collection of interviews published by Cahiers du Cinema. Cronenberg debuts his own first novel, Consumed, in Fall of 2014.
Prospero Pictures Founder and President MARTIN KATZ (Producer) has produced or executive produced many award-winning feature film and television productions, including David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, A Dangerous Method, and Spider. Katz produced the Academy Award® and Golden Globe multi-nominee Hotel Rwanda, written and directed by Terry George, and Bronwen Hughes’ Stander, which the London Observer called the greatest heist film since Reservoir Dogs.
Katz’s productions also include It’s a Boy Girl Thing, a co-production with Elton John and David Furnish’s Rocket Pictures, and Lord Richard Attenborough’s Closing the Ring, starring Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer and Mischa Barton. Katz is also Executive Producer of the feature film Shake Hands With the Devil, which is based on the biography of General Roméo Dallaire and filmed entirely on location in Kigali.
Katz’s television project Spectacle: Elvis Costello With… is a Gemini Award-winning series co- produced with Rocket Pictures. It continues to feature some of the most renowned musicians in the world in conversation (and performance) with Costello, including Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Elton John, Norah Jones, James Taylor, Herbie Hancock, Lou Reed and Sting, among others.
Katz holds degrees in law from the University of Toronto and the Université de Paris (Panthéon-Sorbonne), and has served as Professor of Law at the French-language Université de Moncton and as Special Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law at the University of Toronto. Katz isa Chairman of the Canadian Academy of Cinema and Television, a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and a Director of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship.
SBS founder SAÏD BEN SAÏD (Producer) joined UGC in 1999 where he served as a producer on a variety of films ranging from art house fare to mainstream French pictures including Ruby & Quentin (2002) by Francis Veber, Inju: The Beast in the Shadow (2007) by Barbet Schroeder, Lucky Luke (2009) by James Huth, Love Crime (2010) by Alain Corneau, and Unforgivable (2011) by André Téchiné. He resigned from UGC in 2010 to form his own outfit SBS Productions and produce widely distributed art house films such as Carnage (2011) by Roman Polanski - Venice Film Festival and NYFF, Looking for Hortense (2012) by Pascal Bonitzer - Venice Film Festival, Passion (2012) by Brian De Palma - Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival and NYFF, A Castle in Italy (2013) by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi - Cannes Film Festival in competition, Jealousy (2013) by Philippe Garrel - Venice Film Festival and NYFF, and Maps to the stars (2014) by David Cronenberg.
Maps to the Stars marks PETER SUSCHITZKY’s (Director of Photography) eleventh film with director David Cronenberg, four of which have won Suschitzky Genie Awards for Best Cinematography: Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, Crash and Eastern Promises. Their other collaborations to date are Cosmopolis, A Dangerous Method, A History of Violence, Spider, eXistenZ and M. Butterfly.
The son of cinematographer Wolfgang Suschitzky, Peter Suschitzky was born and raised in London. Although music was his passion, he decided that cinematography would become his profession. After studying his trade in Paris at IDHEC, he became a clapper boy at age 19 and a cameraman at 21, spending a year in South America shooting documentaries before shooting his first feature film at age 22 – making him the youngest cinematographer ever to lens a feature picture (Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo's It Happened Here) in Britain.
Since then, Suschitzky has worked with filmmakers all over the world as director of photography on such memorable movies as Irvin Kershner's The Empire Strikes Back; Jim Sharman's The Rocky Horror Picture Show; and Peter Watkins' Privilege and The Peace Game. In addition to David Cronenberg, Peter Suschitzky has enjoyed multiple collaborations with John Boorman (on Leo the Last and Where the Heart Is, which earned him the National Society of Film Critics award for Best Cinematography) and Ken Russell (on Lisztomania and Valentino, which earned him BAFTA and British Society of Cinematography Award nominations), among other directors.
Among the other notable films that he has shot are Albert Finney's Charlie Bubbles; Ulu Grosbard's Falling in Love; Howard Franklin's The Public Eye; George Sluizer's The Vanishing (1993); Bernard Rose's Immortal Beloved; Tim Burton's Mars Attacks!; Randall Wallace's The Man in the Iron Mask; and Anand Tucker's Shopgirl.
Suschitzky is a keen stills photographer and had shows as part of the Lisbon Estoril Film Festival in 2011 and Paris in 2010. He is currently planning a book.
HOWARD SHORE (Composer) has collaborated with David Cronenberg on a number of groundbreaking films. Their work together includes The Brood, Scanners, Videodrome, The Fly, Dead Ringers (for which Shore won a Genie Award), Naked Lunch, M. Butterfly, Crash, eXistenZ, the short Camera, Spider, A History of Violence, Eastern Promises (for which Shore won his second Genie Award), A Dangerous Method and Cosmopolis.
Shore is among the most respected and active film composers and music conductors working today. He won three Academy Awards® for his work on Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy; these were for The Fellowship of the Ring, The Return of the King, and the song “Into the West”. The trilogy also earned him four Grammy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards. Shore received his third Golden Globe Award for his score for Martin Scorsese's The Aviator. He has earned the ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards’ Henry Mancini Award; the National Board of Review's Career Achievement Award; the Hollywood Film Festival's Outstanding Achievement in Music in Film Award; the Academy of Science Fiction Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Award; the city of Vienna has honored him with the Max Steiner Award; he holds honorary doctorates from Berklee College of Music and York University, and he is an Officier de l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres among other honors.
Shore began his career as a founding member of the group Lighthouse, with whom he recorded and toured from 1969 to 1972. He was one of the original creators of Saturday Night Live and served as the music director, conducting the show's live broadcasts from 1975 to 1980 and writing the show's theme. At the same time, he began his collaboration with David Cronenberg.
His many film scores include John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt, Martin Campbell’s Edge of Darkness, David Slade’s The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Martin Scorsese's The Departed, The Aviator, Gangs of New York and After Hours; Tim Burton's Ed Wood; Jonathan Demme's The Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia; David Fincher's Panic Room, The Game, and Se7en; Penny Marshall's Big; and Chris Columbus's Mrs. Doubtfire. In 2008, Howard Shore’s opera The Fly premiered at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris and at Los Angeles Opera, with a libretto by David Henry Hwang directed by David Cronenberg. His piano concerto Ruin and Memory written for Lang Lang premiered in Beijing, China on October 11, 2010.
CAROL SPIER (Production Designer) is perhaps best known for her longtime association with David Cronenberg. Her collaborations with Cronenberg include A Dangerous Method, Eastern Promises, A History of Violence, eXistenz, Crash, M. Butterfly, Naked Lunch, Dead Ringers, The Fly, The Dead Zone, Videodrome, Scanners, The Brood and Fast Company as well as two television docudramas for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Scales of Justice. She received Genie Awards (Canadian Oscars) for Passchendaele, Naked Lunch and Dead Ringers and Genie nominations for The Brood, Videodrome, Scanners, eXistenz and Eastern Promises. She also received the Director’s Guild of Canada award for Outstanding Achievement in Production Design for both Eastern Promises and Passchendaele and the Director’s Guild of Canada Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.
Her numerous other feature film credits include Kimberly Peirce’s Carrie, Jim Sheridan’s Dream House, Guillermo Del Torro’s Mimic and Blade II, Silent Hill, The Man, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Noel, Joe's Apartment, The Santa Clause, Canadian Bacon, Consenting Adults, Where The Heart Is, Renegades, Sing, Search and Destroy, Running Brave and I Miss You Hugs and Kisses which, in 1976, marked her first film as a production designer. For television, Spier designed the J.J. Abrams series Fringe, the PBS/CBC series Anne of Green Gables, for which she won a Gemini Award (Canada's Emmy Award) for Best Art Direction, Showtime’s Gotham, for which she received a nomination for an ACE award for best Art Direction, the CBS movie-of-the-week Escape From Iran and the PBS/American Playhouse production of Overdrawn at the Memory Bank.
Spier is Canadian-born and studied Interior Design at the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Architecture. She began her professional career as an interior designer in Winnipeg, Manitoba. During this period she also worked as a set and costume designer with various theater groups, Including the Manitoba Theater Center. She began her motion picture career with The Mourning Suit, on which she served as set designer, set dresser, and property master. She then moved to Toronto, where she worked as an assistant art director on several feature films, including Equus and Why Shoot the Teacher, before serving as art director on such films as Norman Jewison's Agnes of God and John Schlesinger's The Believers.
DENISE CRONENBERG (Costume Designer) began her career on stage in the ballet. She moved from performing to fashion design, and then to film as a costume designer. The first feature film she designed was The Fly, with her brother David Cronenberg. Since that time she has been the costume designer for all his films, including Naked Lunch, Dead Ringers, M Butterly, Crash, Existenz, Spider, A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, A Dangerous Method and Cosmopolis.
Denise has designed the costumes for many other films, including Moonlight and Valentino, Murder at 1600, Dawn of the Dead, Shoot ‘em up, A Cavemen's Valentine, Dead Silence, The Incredible Hulk and Resident Evil: Afterlife.
She has been nominated five times for Best Achievement in Costume Design for the Canadian film awards, The Genie Awards.
STEPHAN DUPUIS (Make-up and hair designer) began working with David Cronenberg on Scanners. Their subsequent projects together include Cosmopolis, A Dangerous Method, Eastern Promises, A History of Violence, Spider, eXistenz, Crash, Naked Lunch and The Fly, for which Dupuis was nominated for a BAFTA Award and won an Academy Award® (shared with Chris Walas).
He has earned three Emmy Award nominations, for his make-up on Ivan Passer's Stalin, starring Robert Duval; Robert Dornhelm's Rudy: The Rudy Giuliani Story, starring James Woods; and Robert Allan Ackerman's The Reagans, starring James Brolin.
Among Dupuis's film credits are Wolfgang Petersen's Enemy Mine; Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop and Total Recall; Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade; Martin Scorsese's Cape Fear; Mel Gibson's The Man Without a Face; Chris Columbus's Mrs. Doubtfire; George Clooney's Confessions of a Dangerous Mind; Niels Mueller's The Assassination of Richard Nixon; Francis Lawrence's I Am Legend; Steven Soderbergh’s Che: Part One; Gus Van Sant’s Milk for which Sean Penn won the Academy Award® for Best Actor.
Self-taught, he began experimenting with foam latex make-up in his parents's basement in his native Montreal. While attending university, he was hired to assist the head make-up artist on Alvin Rakoff's City on Fire, and ultimately captained the FX make-up department on the project.
After graduating from Sir George Williams Campus with a Masters Degree in Cinema Fine Arts, his work was spotted by make-up artistry icon Dick Smith, who invited him to collaborate in New York. Dupuis next worked on the Academy Award-winning make-up for Jean-Jacques Annaud's Quest for Fire, and teamed with Walas for Cronenberg's Scanners.
Maps to the Stars is RONALD SANDERS’ (Editor) 17th film for David Cronenberg. He previously edited Cosmopolis, A Dangerous Method, Eastern Promises, A History of Violence, Spider, eXistenZ, Crash, M. Butterfly, Naked Lunch, Dead Ringers, The Fly, The Dead Zone, Videodrome, Scanners, Fast Company, and the short Camera for the director.
Born in Winnipeg, Sanders was exposed to film at an early age since his father worked as a projectionist. After graduating with a B.A. from St. John's College, University of Manitoba, he moved to Toronto where he edited documentaries and began working on features as a sound editor.
Among his feature credits as editor are Henry Selick’s Coraline, Mark L. Lester's Firestarter; Yves Simoneau's Perfectly Normal; Robert Longo's Johnny Mnemonic; and Anais Granofsky's The Limb Salesman. Forthcoming features include Robert Adetuyi’s Beat the World and Steven Silver’s The Bang Bang Club.
Sanders has also edited such notable telefilms as Norman Jewison's Dinner with Friends; Steven Hilliard Stern's The Park is Mine; Daniel Petrie Jr.'s Dead Silence; and Lamont Johnson's All the Winters That Have Been.