×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Brady Corbet on His Pop Diva Drama ‘Vox Lux’

Vox Lux” uses the rise and fall of a self-destructive pop star to analyze the past decade or so of school shootings, economic malaise, and global terrorism. Brady Corbet’s sophomore feature is one of the first works of art to truly contend with the post-Columbine, post-9/11 age of anxiety, as well as the celebrity culture that has played like a soundtrack to this turbulent era.

“As Americans and as citizens of the world, we have endured a lot in our recent history,” Corbet told Variety. “I just think it’s important for everyone who sees this film to think about all we’ve been through and kind of own it. It’s not been a beautiful generation. We’ve been living through an obscene and absurd political system long before Donald Trump came to power.”

Vox Lux” earned rave reviews when it debuted at this week’s Venice Film Festival and it hopes to score a distribution deal after it screens at the Toronto International Film Festival on Friday. Producer Gary Michael Walters says the film announces Corbet as an important cinematic talent.

“He’s a strong new directing voice,” said Walters. “Brady’s going to be a real auteur.”

If “Vox Lux” does enjoy a big sale, it will be in large part thanks to the transformative performance of Natalie Portman, who plays the brash pop diva at the center of the film. Her messy fall from grace is reminiscent of the very public meltdowns suffered by the likes of Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan, but Corbet said the character isn’t based on any specific cautionary tale.

“It’s an amalgam,” he said. “Many of these people have the same story. They sign with a major label who puts them through this ordeal of doing 130 shows a year, and there’s no way to do that in a healthy way. So they’re drinking too much or their abusing cocaine. It’s not a life. And then we f—ing crucify them when they have a tantrum in public.”

In “Vox Lux,” Portman’s character Celeste survives a brutal school shooting and becomes an icon after she composes a song about her experience. Having made it big, she descends into a morass of booze and bad decisions. Her comeback threatens to be undid when questions arise about whether her music inspired a terrorist attack in Croatia.

Corbet first turned heads as a director with his feature debut, “The Childhood of a Leader,” which documents the early years of a fascist leader. The film earned prizes at Venice, but struggled to get distribution. It found one important champion in the late director Jonathan Demme (“The Silence of the Lambs”), who used his Rolodex to draw attention to the film. Demme died of cancer and heart disease in 2017. “Vox Lux” is dedicated to his memory.

“He was so kind to me at a moment in time when very few people were open-hearted to what I was doing,” said Corbet. “When this movie was finished, I just really wished I could have shown it to him.”

Corbet didn’t began his career directing. He was a well-known actor, who worked for the likes of Michael Haneke in “Funny Games” and Olivier Assayas in “Clouds of Sils Maria.” However, Corbet hasn’t been on screen since 2014, preferring to devote his energy to writing and directing.

“I just felt done with that,” he said. “I wanted to move into a new phase of my life.”

More From TIFF:

More Film

  • Kathy Bates Walk of Fame Honor

    Kathy Bates Erroneously Submitted for Lead Actress in SAG Awards Race (EXCLUSIVE)

    If dark horse awards contender Kathy Bates is absent in the best supporting actress category come tomorrow’s Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, don’t be too quick to put in on her performance in “Richard Jewell.” A clerical error was made by the Clint Eastwood film’s distributor Warner Bros., an insider with knowledge of the mixup [...]

  • Kasi LemmonsNew York Women in Film

    Kasi Lemmons, Jane Rosenthal, Ann Dowd Talk Golden Globes Female Director Snub

    The absence of women among director nominees for the Golden Globes is another example of how much work remains to be done to achieve gender parity in the entertainment industry, honorees said Tuesday night at the 40th annual Muse Awards presented by New York Women in Film and Television. “Harriet” director Kasi Lemmons, “The Irishman” [...]

  • Queen & Slim

    How 'Queen & Slim' Production Designer Karen Murphy Mapped Out the Duo's Route

    “Queen & Slim” is a social commentary packaged as a film, beginning with a bang. It kicks off when Queen (Jodi Turner-Smith) and Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) shoot a police officer in self-defense and find themselves on the run. Slim somewhat innocently thinks his action will be justified in court, but Queen, a weathered prosecutor, knows [...]

  • Kevin Costner Diane Lane

    Film News Roundup: Kevin Costner-Diane Lane Thriller 'Let Him Go' Set for August

    In today’s film news roundup, “Let Him Go” will open against “Bill and Ted Face the Music”; “Paradise Found” is in the works; “The Irishman” leads the way for AACTA International Awards nominations; and principal photography has wrapped on “Quiet in My Town.” RELEASE DATE Focus Features has set an Aug. 21 release date for [...]

  • Harriet Movie BTS

    How the Three-Part Arc Helped 'Harriet' Editor Wyatt Smith in the Editing Room

    It has taken us until 2019 to have a film about Araminta “Minty” Ross. Better known in history as Harriet Tubman. In Kasi Lemmons’ new film “Harriet,” the story breaks away from the typical slave narrative of an upward journey. Rather, we get a story that delves into the woman, her humanity and inspirational life. [...]

  • Awkwafina Jumanji Next Level Premiere

    'The Farewell's' Awkwafina on Her First Golden Globe Nomination, Female Director Snubs

    Awkwafina just might’ve had her best Monday ever. Shortly after 5 a.m., the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. announced that she’d earned her first Golden Globe nomination (as best actress in a motion picture – musical or comedy) for her performance in “The Farewell.” But she didn’t have a ton of time to celebrate, since she [...]

  • Bhumi Pednekar

    IFFAM-Variety's Asian Stars: Up Next Program is Helping Talent Cross Over

    Eight young stars accepted the “Asian Stars: Up Next” award on Tuesday intended to recognize and promote Asian on-screen talent who have established themselves in their home market but have the potential to cross borders onto the global stage. The awards are issued by the International Film Festival & Awards Macao and Variety, and were [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content