The first English language film by director Xavier Dolan has just gained two Academy Award winning actresses, in the form of Susan Sarandon and Kathy Bates – immediately spiking interest in the festival favourite’s latest endeavour. Also starring Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain and Game Of Thrones star Kit Harrington, The Death And Life Of John F. Donovan is next on Dolan’s slate, following the upcoming U.S release of his Cannes Jury Prize winning Mommy, on January 23rd 2015.
The film centres on John F. Donovan (Harington) whom, we discover, is an actor famed for his onscreen portrayal of a superhero. When a manipulative gossip columnist (Chastain) exposes his correspondence with a young fan and misrepresents it as indecent, the actor’s career and life are sent into a tail-spin. Susan Sarandon will play Donovan’s mother, while Kathy Bates will play his high-powered manager.
Dolan recently discussed the project with The Hollywood Reporter, saying:
“It’s not about Hollywood itself. It’s about the impact Hollywood has on your private life, and how it can transform and distort your intimacy with others.
“Susan Sarandon’s role of the mother is tricky for me, because it feels very real. The rapport my mom has with my life [since my profile has risen] – and of course, I’m not as famous as the character of Donovan – is different now. I think all people can relate to this, because whenever you walk out of the path that’s been traced for you, people from your old life find it a little menacing, because it questions their own worth.
“We are trying to explore the clichés of American filmmaking and storytelling. It’s going to be a deconstruction of the superhero myth and that format of storytelling.”
While his most recent film, Mommy, is Canada’s official submission for the category of Best Foreign Language Film for the next Academy Awards, The Death And Life Of John F. Donovan, will not feature any particular shift in Dolan’s methods – beyond attracting acting talent of an incredibly high profile. The film is due to begin production in late spring 2015, using locations in the U.K, U.S and Canada, and writer-director Dolan – who co-wrote the script with Jacob Tierney (The Trotsky) – will once again act as editor and costume designer, too. With such an exciting cast lining up to collaborate on the project, this is shaping up to be one to watch for.