Hedwig director talks about adapting Neil Gaimen’s short story in Cannes.
Director John Cameron Mitchell discussed making his new film How To Talk To Girls at Parties, which plays out of Competition at Cannes.
He was giving a talent talk at the UK Film Centre’s Cannes Pavilion on Saturday May 20 alongside producer Howard Gertler, screenwriter Philippa Goslett and See Saw’s head of production Amy Jackson.
Watch a clip from the event below.
The film is based on Neil Gaimen’s short story and stars Alex Sharp as a young punk fan in 70s Croydon who falls in love with Elle Fanning’s beautiful alien. Nicole Kidman, Ruth Wilson and Matt Lucas co-star.
Mitchell described how he landed Oscar-winner Kidman.
“We worked together on Rabbit Hole,” he said. “I emailed her the story and she told me ‘yes, she hadn’t really played a character like this.’
“She was doing a play in the West End [Photograph 51] where she was the DNA specialist, so it worked out she could shoot with us two days after.
“She plays a Vivienne Westwood/ Malcom McLaren hybrid – we’ve never seen her more coarse!”
His additional cast was secured through an assortment of arrangements, including Ruth Wilson, whom he offered the role of JT Stella when he ran into her at a chiropractic appointment, and Alex Sharp, who plays love interest Enn.
Mitchell met Sharp via The Tony Awards, where they both won prizes. “Alex’s character is supposed to be shy with girls, but he told me he didn’t think he could take on the role because he is really good with girls. I told him, ‘Just act’!,” laughed Mitchell.
Additional cast includes Elle Fanning, of which Gertler said was their first choice and only offer, and Mitchell’s friend Matt Lucas.
Despite being set in Croydon the film was shot in Sheffield with the help of Screen Yorkshire, partially for cost purposes and because its resembled south London in 1977
“We needed lots of council estates for aliens to fly from,” explained Mitchell.
Gertler recalled first reading Neil Gaimen’s story eight to nine years ago, and later joining forces with Goslett via her agent.
“I read the story, and loved that it’s about the opposite sex being completely alien,” said Goslett. “We can all relate to this from our childhood.”