In the past 10 years, David Cronenberg has directed just three films, most recently Eastern Promises in 2007. Now the Canadian filmmaker who usually operates outside the Hollywood system looks set to re-energize his career at the age of 67.
Cronenberg starts shooting A Dangerous Method, a dark psycho-sexual tale starring Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender and Keira Knightley, on locations in Germany, Switzerland and Austria this month. He's attached to four other projects including a sequel to Eastern Promises; a remake of his 1986 cult hit The Fly; and Cosmopolis, a comedy-drama based on Don DeLillo's novel about a 28-year-old billionaire who crosses Manhattan for a haircut.
Based on a Christopher Hampton's 2003 play The Talking Cure, A Dangerous Method examines the three-way relationship between Sigmund Freud (Mortensen, who replaced the originally cast Christoph Waltz), his student Carl Jung (Fassbender) and Jung's patient/lover Sabrina (Knightley). Vincent Cassel plays a depraved patient who adds to the tension.
International sales agent HanWay Films has pre-sold the film to a bunch of territories but there's no deal for Australia yet. “I have long been drawn to the story of erotic daring between these two good doctors and the woman who both divided and defined them,” Cronenberg said. “History can only hint at the psychological and physical terrain they opened up, but a film can explore it.”
Regarded as a pariah by most Hollywood studios after the 2002 flop Spider, the director has said he thinks he's been viewed as a more mainstream filmmaker after 2005's A History of Violence and Eastern Promises. “So I'm a safer bet suddenly," he said in a recent interview, noting he'd been getting offers to direct films that aren't so genre-oriented.
He's working with 20th Century Fox on a new version of The Fly, itself a remake of Kurt Neumann's 1958 sci-fi classic. Jeff Goldlbum played an eccentric scientist who's transformed into a fly, with Geena Davis as his love interest.
He's also developing Timecrimes, adapted from Nacho Vigalondo's Spanish-language film Los cronocrímenes, a thriller about a man who travels back in time by half an hour to prevent a serious crime.
On the Eastern Promises sequel, he's collaborating with Mortensen, who played a Russian gangster named Nikolai who was covertly working for a British intelligence service, scriptwriter Steve Knight and producer Paul Webster
“It's the first time I've ever been in a situation where I actually want to do a sequel to something,” he told MTV last year. “I've never had the desire to do that before. But in this case, I thought we had unfinished business with those characters. I didn't feel that we had finished with Nikolai and we had done a lot of research that was more than we could stuff into that one movie.”
His hopes of making The Matarese Circle, a spy thriller starring Tom Cruise and Denzel Washington, based on the Robert Ludlum, collapsed when MGM imploded late last year.