After the western “Hostiles”, Scott Cooper tries his hand at horror with “Affamés”, produced by Guillermo del Toro. An experience on which he returns to our microphone, with his actress Keri Russell.
Country music drama. A story of revenge. A Western. And now a horror movie. Three years after the release of Hostiles, Scott Cooper continues his career as a director and his exploration of genres with Affamés.
This is the story of supernatural events that hit the inhabitants of a small mining town in Oregon in complete decay. A visually very beautiful and sometimes terrifying feature film, in which we recognize the paw of producer Guillermo del Toro and which does not forget the human aspect of the story, as the director and his actress Keri Russell explain.
AlloCiné: “Hungry” marks your first foray into the horror genre Scott. How was this the right project for you to try it out?
Scott Cooper : I like to make films that belong to different genres. I don’t like to repeat myself. And I like horror in general, because some of my favorite movies are horror movies: Don’t Look Back by Nicolas Roeg, The Exorcist by William Friedkin, Alien by Ridley Scott… Films that I often think of.
And Guillermo del Toro approached me saying: “Your last three movies are horror movies, and nobody knows that! How about you make a real one?” What I accepted, given my love of the genre. Throughout our discussions, my desire to discuss the fears and anxieties that Americans suffer from today emerged. There was already a very compelling script, and the short story it was based on, but as I write each of my films, I went over it to come up with the story that interests me the most.
Did you feel like you were making horror movies with these three previous ones? Or is it he who made you realize it?
Scott Cooper : No, I never saw them as horror movies. But it is true that Christian Bale and I had mentioned the horrific aspect of Hostiles regarding the treatment of Indians or the trauma experienced by the family of the character of Rosamund Pike. Or even the post-traumatic stress that the character of Christian suffers from.
In terms of genre, I hadn’t seen them that way. I always try to tell a story as sincerely as possible. And I tell myself that if I manage to recognize myself in my work, others will also manage to identify themselves.
The creature is a metaphor for this ruined city stricken with poverty, drug addiction, unemployment
It is rare to see you in this Keri registry. What was your motivation for participating in this film?
Keri Russell : I am a huge fan of Crazy Heart, directed by Scott Cooper. I love this movie and the way it handled the story. And when he told me about Starving, he explained to me that Guillermo had approached him to direct it and that he wanted to make a Scott Cooper-style horror film. And this combination was worth getting started.
There is indeed something interesting when the film goes beyond the purely horrific aspects to show that the most horrifying thing is the trauma that is passed down from generation to generation.
Keri Russell : Yes, you always have to be able to hold on to something, one way or another, in a purely fantasy film. Whether it’s a horror movie or a story that takes place in space or in the future. To allow you to make history. And, for me, the creature is a metaphor for this ruined city struck by poverty, drug addiction, unemployment…
Things that are happening in the world. I see the beast as a metaphor for all of this and what it entails. This is what Scott does so well. He’s good at addressing the nuances and fragility of broken relationships.
Did starring in a movie like “Hungry” change your perspective on horror movies?
Keri Russell : You have to know that I’m easily scared in front of a movie (laughs) That’s why I don’t watch a lot of horror films (laughs) Because I always remember it and I have nightmares about it. But this one is very beautiful. It contains a lot of artistry, and it is visually stunning. It has aspects of a beautiful, bewitching romantic film, and our cinematographer [Florian Hoffmeister] did an amazing job.
The fact that Starved is a horror film adds a lot of other things to it. And I find it poetic. It’s an elegant horror film.
How did Guillermo del Toro help you design the horror aspect of the film? Did he give you any advice?
Scott Cooper : Yes, he is very generous with his time and his ideas. Both when I was writing the script and when creating Wendigo, our creature. But also during filming and post-production. And I think it’s great to have a producer who is also a director. Like Robert Duvall or even Ridley and Tony Scott, who produced some of my films [Crazy Heart et Les Brasiers de la colère, ndlr]. And Guillermo today. The producers / directors understand the whole process and the challenges you face.
What genre do you want to tackle next?
Scott Cooper : I would love to shoot a film noir in Los Angeles. I’ve been thinking about it for a while. But, currently, I am preparing and getting ready to shoot my third film with Christian Bale [The Pale Blue Eye, sur l’enquête mené par un détective et une jeune recrue nommée Edgar Allan Poe, ndlr].
Interview by Maximilien Pierrette in Paris on October 25, 2021