Maps to the Stars
Screenwriter Bruce Wagner
This funny, sad, and hard-to-stop-watching-the-trainwreck satire about child stars both young and old is a quite acerbic critique of Hollywood culture. But what would you expect from the team of writer Bruce Wagner and director David Cronenberg? The film, which took quite a while to make, boasts as all-star cast of Julianne Moore, John Cusack, Robert Pattinson, and Mia Wasikowska, among others.
This seems to be a very venomous attack on the Hollywood of today.
David and I had absolutely no interest in mounting an “attack” on Hollywood. Maps to the Stars is a melodrama, pure and simple. One of the obsessions among critics is to call it an “attack” or to call it “satire.” There is nothing, not a single thing, in my experience, that is exaggerated in the film in terms of the depravity or madness of human behavior.
But the film is very funny as well, and sometimes people don’t know how to digest the intermingling of comedy and tragedy. I was raised here and wrote a story about a quintessential show business family — their rise and fall, so to speak — that ends badly. End of story! We have a lot of fun along the way.
But I’m accustomed to misreads; there are even those who call Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard a satire. My novels contain the profane and the sacred, and I hope that shines through Maps.
Why did the film take so long to come to fruition?
Maps took a long time to make for a number of reasons. Because I’m an American [and the film is Canadian], there were a lot of fairly strict rules of funding, such as those mandating that we only have one American actor. (Carrie Fisher was allowed too, because she was a “cameo.”)
Eight years ago we intended to make the film but couldn’t; in the meanwhile, Julianne Moore acquired dual citizenship, so we were able to have another American actor, John Cusack, come aboard.
It was also expensive to shoot in Los Angeles and we were unable to get the monies to do that in our first round. But it’s true that Hollywood movies of a modest budget are difficult to get off the ground, not because of the town’s animosity toward them, but the feeling that the genre doesn’t perform well at the box office. Obviously, a director of David’s stature (like Altman or Lynch) changes things when it comes to financing and casting, but it was still difficult, even after we had Julianne and Rob Pattinson.
How have people liked the film?
The movie has been extraordinarily received. Julianne, of course, won Best Actress at Cannes, and was nominated for a Golden Globe. Today, we received 11 Canadian Screen Award nominations; their version of the Academy Awards. (We weren’t eligible for Oscar contention.) We will open in 50 theaters at the end of February, but I believe our largest audience will be on VOD. The Interview has paved the way!