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Yorgos Lanthimos on ‘The Favourite’s’ Portrayal of Women in the #MeToo Era

Yorgos Lanthimos, whose latest film, “The Favourite,” is world premiering Thursday at the Venice Film Festival, spoke in favor of the #MeToo movement and noted that his new costume drama focuses “on three female characters and portrays them as human beings.”

“Most times, women are seen through the male gaze, so they are often shown as housewives, girlfriends or objects of desire,” Lanthimos said at the news conference in Venice for “The Favourite,” flanked by two of the three lead actresses, Emma Stone and Olivia Colman. Although the film was conceived many years before #MeToo burst on the scene, “our contribution is to show women as complex, wonderful…human beings.”

Colman, who is currently playing Queen Elizabeth II in the third and fourth seasons of Netflix’s hit drama “The Queen,” portrays Queen Anne in “The Favourite.” Although she spoke little about the role, she said twice how much she enjoyed her sex scenes in the film.

“There is lots of sexual politics involved in the film and that’s good,” Colman said. “It was awfully fun to have sex with Emma Stone.”

“It was fun to have sex with you, too,” Stone replied.

The Oscar-winning star of “La La Land” was asked whether she saw a parallel between the rivalries at the British royal court and in Hollywood. “Hell, yeah,” said Stone, “but I think a competitive spirit exists in most industries.”

Lanthimos and his cast received warm applause from journalists when stepping into the press conference room. The Fox Searchlight title played before an appreciative audience at Thursday morning’s press screening and has been getting solid word-of-mouth across the Lido, confirming its status as one of the most anticipated indie films of the 2018 movie season.

Set in England in the early 18th century, “The Favourite” follows the relationship between Sarah Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough (Rachel Weisz) and her servant Abigail Hill (Stone) as they jockey for position with the queen. The intrigue makes it unclear just who is the favorite of the title.

The film marks a departure from Lanthimos’ “The Lobster” and “Killing of a Sacred Deer.” The Greek director said he was drawn to the project because it’s a period piece. “I had never done one, and what I found is that it creates some kind of distance with the subject and allows you to see things more clearly.”

The movie will kick off the 56th New York Film Festival.

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