Macau (MNA) – The Director of Mandy, Panos Cosmatos, told Macau News Agency (MNA) that he was only convinced Nicolas Cage could play the main protagonist in his movie until seeing it it in a dream.
Mandy was screened as part of the 2018 International Film Festival and Awards Macau (IFFAM) Flying Daggers section, a non-competitive selection of international genre films that also included titles Philippines’ BuyBust and Cannes Critics Week choice Diamantino.
A horror/action with a slasher B-Movie vibe, Mandy takes place in 1983 and tells the story of Red Miller, a lumberjack living a quiet life in the woods with his girlfriend Mandy – played by Andrea Riseborough – until she is kidnapped by a cult led by a man named Jeremiah Sand – Linus Roache – who conjures motorcycle-riding demons to steal the girl and make her one of their own.
During his Acting Masterclass on Sunday, Cage revealed that he was enticed by the movie script but that he intended to play Red Miller, while Panos envisioned him better as the cult leader.
“I had really become infatuated with the idea of using him as a performer, exploring that with him and taking him down a strange path where he had not gone down before. I did not see that before at the Red Miller character […] when he initially told me that he did want to play Red Miller I was unable to do that jump on the spot after having though about the other way for so long,” Cosmatos told MNA.
However after having a dream in which Cage appeared as the Mandy’s main protagonist, Cosmatos was finally convinced the veteran actor could fit the role and immediately contacted him.
“That dream was so compelling that it made me realise that a lot of these things I wanted of him as a performer were also possible on the Red Miller character. Thankfully my head put it straight,” he says laughing.
Cosmatos filmed Mandy about seven years after his directorial debut, science fiction-horror film Beyond the Black Rainbow from 2010, with the Italian-Canadian director stating he had already started envisioning the film at the time.
“I started writing Mandy on the first form at roughly the same time I started writing Beyond the Black Rainbow as a kind of antidote, since that movie was quite a methodical grilling process. So unconsciously I started writing this revenge movie that has all these elements that were more overt and operatic,” he told MNA.
“I returned to Mandy several years later, it took some time for all the planets to aline to a situation here we were able to make the movie with all that kind of control that we wanted”.
Mandy premiered on January, 2018 at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, with critics praising Cage’s performance and the movie’s unique tone and style.
Cosmatos has said he was influenced from sources as diverse as sci-fi and surreal comic books – Heavy Metal magazine and French cartoonist Moebius – to 1980’s Carpenter and Cronenberg horror.
“It’s a very intuitive process, it’s hard to define. I think of it more as an iterative, sculpting process. it will start with a flat piece of a genre and then we’ll just start placing layers on top of that, sculpting them and adding them. It’s a very intuitive process to find something that resonates and feel right.”
Cosmatos is the son of acclaimed director, George Pan Cosmatos, responsible for such iconic action cinema classics such as Rambo, Cobra and Tombstone, but with the director naming some of his father’s more alternative productions as his personal favourites.
“My favourite film of his is Of Unknown Origin staring Peter Weller, the first movie he made after he moved to Canada […] Thematically it’s one of his movies that resonates more with me and the closest to my kind of mentality, an absurdist satirical horror film,” he says.
“I also always loved his helicopter shots. Escape to Athena and The Cassandra Crossing both have these gorgeous helicopter opening shots and music that I really love. That’s the beginning of Mandy“.