Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo Praise Director – The Hollywood Reporter
The cast and crew of Yorgos Lanthimos‘ Poor Things made their way onto one final red carpet ahead of the film’s theatrical release.
Stars Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe, Ramy Youssef, Margaret Qualley and Kathryn Hunter, among others, joined Lanthimos and screenwriter Tony McNamara for the New York City premiere of the film on Wednesday night.
Ruffalo expressed that working with Stone, Lanthimos and the rest of the Poor Things team was like a “dream come true for him,” due partially to his character, Duncan Wedderburn.
“He gets to say the most outrageous, foul, really poetic things than probably any man in the last 20 years of cinema and do it with panache and charm and total gracelessness,” the actor told The Hollywood Reporter. “I was really into the idea of doing physical comedy and then working, of course, with Emma and this cast.”
Stone, who portrays Bella Baxter, explained that she couldn’t pinpoint what her favorite part of the film was because she enjoyed every aspect of it and loved her character. She also shared with reporters on the carpet what Lanthimos’ rehearsal processes for Poor Things were, noting they were fun and silly and incorporated lots of theater games.
“We kind of don’t necessarily rehearse in the traditional way,” the Oscar winner said. “It just sort of bonds the cast. We felt really free and not embarrassed around each other, which is huge when you’re doing a lot of this, so I guess it informed Bella in the sense that I felt really great with everybody that I was doing scenes with.”
Dafoe echoed Stone’s sentiment in expressing that every part of the film was the best part. The Lighthouse star portrays the Dr. Frankenstein-esque mad scientist Godwin Baxter who creates Bella, which leads to the two of them having “a very complicated relationship.”
“The best part was the world, the design of the place,” Dafoe shared. “The best part was working with Yorgos. He’s a beautiful director. The best part is working with Tony McNamara’s script. The best part is having the scenes with Emma.”
He shared that there wasn’t much preparation for him to do before production because his character was as complete as could be, so all he did was prepare an accent and watch videotapes of Alasdair Gray, the author of Poor Things, the book the film is based on. Dafoe found the novelist interesting and felt it was helpful to watch him in conversations because there is a lot of him in Godwin.
Lanthimos first read the novel 12 years ago but struggled to get people to back the film. Once they did, however, creating the world for his characters to inhabit became a pleasant process, he shared.
Poor Things reunited the director with Stone after they worked together on The Favourite, for which Stone received a best supporting actress Oscar nomination. The pair also joined forces for the short film Bleat and the upcoming comic anthology And.
“I think we just get along like as people but also had a really good time working together on The Favourite,” Lanthimos said of his and Stone’s continued collaboration. “We just keep getting to know each other better and better, and we just build on that relationship.”
McNamara — who is already receiving awards for his Poor Things script — explained that when he and Lanthimos started thinking about adapting the story, the director suggested making the movie about Bella, instead of having other people tell her story like they do in the book.
After deciding to make Bella their protagonist, McNamara and Lanthimos had to figure out how to create a film that encompassed all the genres they were trying to incorporate: comedy, coming-of-age, satire, sci-fi and fantasy.
“The challenge was how to do that and make it feel organic and kind of like one thing,” the Oscar-nominated screenwriter said, adding that he found it exciting. “It was period, but it was contemporary. You don’t get often a character who changes the way they speak nonstop throughout a movie. So, that was really fun, to kind of work out how to do that and still make it feel like her all the time.”
With Bella at the center of the story, Poor Things is being hailed as a feminist masterpiece. THR‘s chief film critic David Rooney called it “an unconventional reflection on female freedom” in his review.
Hunter, who plays Madame Swiney in the already-award-winning project, appreciates the film asking questions like, “What is a woman? What is a human being? What are the things that we’re born with, and what are the things that we’re capable of?”
She continued, “I love that it’s a female odyssey. It has to be said that most stories are male odysseys, the journey of the male hero. This is such an original take on the odyssey of the female hero. … It asks those incredible questions about what are we? And it kind of punctures our hypocrisies about received truths and how we should live and conventions.”