Director Antonio Campos and star Brady Corbet discuss ‘Simon Killer’

Brady Corbet (bottom, below Mati Diop) co-wrote and stars in "Simon Killer." Credit: Joe Anderson
Brady Corbet (bottom, below Mati Diop) co-wrote and stars in “Simon Killer.”
Credit: Joe Anderson

Much like the lead character in his new movie, “Simon Killer,” director Antonio Campos was reeling from a breakup when the film was first germinating in his head. He was also reading a lot of Georges Simenon and Jim Thompson, gutter noir poets who wrote tales of casually amoral men.

“It’s not like we were trying to make a film noir,” Campos says of the finished product. “But we were in that universe. We were just embracing the environment and the settings, the certain look these spaces have. It was more a feeling I was running with.”

In the film, Brady Corbet plays an American tourist in Paris who worms his way into the life of a prostitute (Mati Diop). Eventually the two try to milk money out of her clients. “The plans play out in a clumsy way,” says Corbet, who co-write the script with Campos. “It’s almost absurd, this plan of theirs. It’s so half-baked. But if you read real stories about blackmail, they usually are this haphazard. Very few end up like ‘Ocean’s Eleven.’ We were trying to find the potential for truth in a genre film.”

For Campos, having your lead actor as your screenwriter made a lot of sense. “It’s the best way to do it,” he says, “because who else would know the character as much as you do than the person who’s embodying him?” Campos describes the nontraditional screenplay as an “amalgamation of a lot of approaches”: some scenes, he says, were scripted, others had some room for improvisation, others still emerged from rehearsals.

“The way we made our film,” Corbet recalls, “is similar to the way I try to work as an actor. I never learn my lines anymore until the day I get there, because there’s so much potential for things to change. I don’t waste my time anymore. I don’t like rehearsal. On this we had very loose rehearsals, but they would often times turn into discussions about what our next day’s material would be. It’s much more interesting if you remain open to the environment. I don’t think every film can be made that way, but I can’t imagine this movie being made any other way.”

Campos said they would even shoot scenes they knew wouldn’t be in the movie. “That act of doing it is going to inform [the actor] so much,” he says. “The actors were able to live that moment. In the back of their minds it’s real. There’s a universe they’ve created, it’s real, and we’re just choosing to show part of it.”

They reshot one scene: After getting beat up, Simon visits Diop’s character at work to beg for her help. She goes to get her coat and Simon’s expression changes to a blank, then changes back when she returns. “It was so wrong,” Corbet remembers. “It wasn’t the movie we had shot thus far. It betrayed the character. It told the audience too much. This one moment could have changed the entire experience of the movie in a way that would have made it so kitschy. We didn’t realize that at the time.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

'Barack Obama cheats on Michelle' claims Japanese politician…

A senior Japanese politician has marred Barack Obama's official visit to Tokyo with bizarre claims that the President cheats on his wife Michelle. Kazuyuki Hamada,…

International

British Royal family devastated by freak NY death…

The British royals have been left devastated by the death of Mark Shand, younger brother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, after a freak fall in…

Local

DA: Homeless man severely beat by men in…

Two former college football players pleaded not guilty to the alleged severe beating of a homeless man in Allston earlier this year.

National

Hamas, Abbas's PLO announce reconciliation agreement

The Gaza-based Islamist group Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) agreed on Wednesday to a unity pact.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 9

It was only an hour-long episode, but there's a lot to cover this week. The drama of Survivor strikes again as the identity of the…

Going Out

Thursty: Revamped Audubon is back in action

Having been a long time fan of Trina's Starlite Lounge in Inman Square, one of my only complaints about the place is that there's only…

Entertainment

Here's what to do in Boston this weekend

MUSIC Huun Huur Tu Friday, 8 p.m. First Church in Cambridge 11 Garden St., Cambridge $28, 617-876-4275 www.worldmusic.org This group comes from the tiny nation…

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 23: 'Suburgatory,' 'Modern…

'Suburgatory' The men of "Suburgatory" go camping and Tessa mentors a social outcast in a Miss Chatswin contest, which brings her, once again, into conflict…

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox top Yankees, 5-1

John Lackey shines, Pineda ejected in Red Sox win

NHL

Bruins - Red Wings Game 4 preview: Boston…

Bruins - Red Wings Game 4 preview: Boston greedy for more dominance

MLB

Fantasy baseball: Searching for early season prospects

It’s relatively rare for a mediocre 30-year-old hitter to suddenly go nuts offensively for 162 games. That’s why minor league prospects are so exciting.

Style

Pippa Middleton's Etsy pick: Golden Thread Jewelry

Get a look at the jewelry Pippa Middleton loves and find out how you can buy it too.

Parenting

What every parent needs to know to get…

Mom and author of "Small Talk," Tracey Blake, shares her five practical tips to help you develop your children's language skills.

Sex

Subway crush: Meet your soulmate on your commute

Read about a couple who has been 40 years after meeting on the train.

Tech

Happy birthday, Game Boy! The handheld console turns…

Nintendo's Game Boy turns 25 this week. To commemorate, we look at some of its better games, like "Tetris" and "The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening."