With The Lobster filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos’ new drama The Killing of a Sacred Deer now playing in limited release, I got to sit down with the gifted director a few days ago for an in-depth conversation about his work. During the wide-ranging interview he talked about getting his latest film made, if it’s gotten easier for him to get financing, if he’s ever made significant changes to a film based on early screenings, how much he storyboards and plan shots before he gets on set, how they came up with the title, and so much more. In addition, with Lanthimos currently editing his next movie, The Favourite, he teases what people can expect with his next project.
If you haven’t seen the trailers for The Killing of a Sacred Deer, the film stars Colin Farrell as a top cardiologist who has a twisted relationship with a young man, played by Dunkirk’s Barry Keoghan, that threatens his family and career. Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg in a movie that Gregory Ellwood compared to Funny Games in his glowing review from Cannes. Here’s an excerpt:
In many ways, this is Lanthimos’ own variation of Michael Haneke’s Funny Games, a shocking morality play where there is no control, no easy choices and no happy ending. The difference is that where Haneke played with the inevitability of death Lanthimos is more focused having the horror of what you’ve just seen linger with both the audience and the characters onscreen. He doesn’t just want you to be repulsed, but emotionally devastated. A gorgeously rendered gut punch that ends up being no laughing matter.
Trust me when I say you’ve never seen anything like this film. Which is one of the reasons I strongly recommend checking it out. The film also stars Nicole Kidman, Raffey Cassidy, Sunny Suljic, Bill Camp, and Alicia Silverstone.
Watch what Yorgos Lanthimos had to say in the player above and below is a list of everything we talked about
- Has he reached a point where it’s gotten easier to get financing for his films or is every one a struggle?
- Did he have the cast before he secured financing?
- What is his writing process like?
- Was the film always called The Killing of the Sacred Deer? How did they come up with the title?
- Talks about shooting films over the course of 35 days.
- Does he shoot five-day weeks or six-day weeks?
- How long was the first cut compared to the finished film?
- Has he ever made significant changes to a film based on early screenings?
- Talks about how he uses friends and family screenings as a gauge for how he feels about sharing the film.
- How much does he storyboard and plan shots before he gets on set?
- How many takes does he tend to do? Has he ever shot one take?
- Says he’s already finished shooting his next film The Favorite and teases what people can expect.
- Does it feel similar to his previous films?
- Says he worked closely with screenwriter Deborah Davis on the screenplay, which is inspired by a true story.
Here’s the official synopsis for The Killing of a Sacred Deer:
Dr. Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) is a renowned cardiovascular surgeon presiding over a spotless household with his ophthalmologist wife Anna (Nicole Kidman) and their two exemplary children, 12-year-old Bob (Sunny Suljian) and 14-year-old Kim (Raffey Cassidy). Lurking at the margins of his idyllic suburban existence is Martin (Barry Keoghan), a fatherless teen who Steven has covertly taken under his wing. As Martin begins insinuating himself into the family’s life in ever-more unsettling displays, the full scope of his intent becomes menacingly clear when he confronts Steven with a long- forgotten transgression that will shatter the Murphy family’s domestic bliss.