In the 1980s, Italian multi-hyphenate Valeria Golino  starred in Hollywood films such as “Rain Man,” ”Big Top Pee-wee,” and “Hot Shots!,” before returning to Italy. She’s now at Cannes in Un Certain Regard as a director for the second time with “Euphoria,” about two brothers with opposite characters unexpectedly brought together after their paths had long split.

“Euphoria” revolves around a charismatic gay man. What inspired you?

A dear friend of mine went through a tough time with his brother who was very sick. A story he told me was the seed for the film.

How would you describe the protagonist?

The hero of the movie is a young man who is very shrewd, promiscuous, a coke-head, a liar, and totally amoral, though I never judge him. It’s not a morality tale. 

Unlike your previous film, “Miele,” you explore a male universe this time. Was it harder?

No. I can’t conceive of storytelling in terms of an either masculine or feminine universe. As a woman I can have better intuitions about female characters. But trying to depict men is just as interesting.

Some say the #MeToo movement in Italy is weak. Do you agree?

There is a movement which started late…it’s a cultural thing. Change isn’t going to happen in five minutes. Everywhere we are at the beginning of a process that, like all beginnings, is very fragile.

Thierry Fremaux, in his book, called you one of Italy’s top directors. How special is Cannes for you? 

Venice has brought me the most luck as an actress. But Cannes took my first film as a director, so while shooting “Euphoria” I was thinking of Cannes.

Do you still have Hollywood ties?

I still have plenty of friends there, but no real professional ties because in Hollywood if you’re not there you don’t exist. And in Italy over the past 10-15 years I’ve gotten the best roles in my life.

Has your international experience been formative as a director?

Sure, I’ve been able to explore other mindsets. But at the end of the day when you shoot a movie, what you are able to achieve really has more to do with being able to adapt to circumstances and keep up with where the film is going.

Does your Hungarian cinematographer Gergely Poharnok help with that?

I love working with him, even though we get into lots of arguments. I would say that for me Gergely and my editor Giogiò Franchini are like co-authors of the film.