Wippet Good: A Conversation Between Don McKellar and David Cronenberg on “Crimes of the Future”

By Lawrence Garcia & Don McKellar

“The past is of no importance. The present is of no importance. It is with the future that we have to deal. For the past is what man should not have been; the present is what man ought not to be; the future is what artists are.”

—Oscar Wilde, “The Soul of Man Under Socialism”

David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future may be marked as a “return” for the 79-year-old director in a number of respects. His first feature in eight years, it is also his first to be based on an original script since eXistenZ. In addition, Crimes sees Cronenberg revisiting, after a fashion, his 1970 film of the same name, from which he’s taken the central premise of genetic mutations in humans which have resulted in the spontaneous growth of new organs. More significant than these surface continuities, however, is Crimes’ forceful renewal of a question that Cronenberg has arguably never abandoned, but which has only become more insistent in this, his late period—the question, that is, of what it means to produce the new. What does it mean to imagine—to image—the future? In the 1970 film, the organ-generation phenomenon is described as a kind of “creative cancer”; following French philosopher Henri Bergson’s major work, we might alternatively speak of a “creative evolution.” This opposition in mind, we may see Crimes as charting the transformations necessary for one judgment to give way to the other, and thereby marking the passage into that void we call the future.

Cronenberg’s chosen milieu to explore all this is the art world, or what passes for the art world in the decrepit, hollowed-out Athens where Crimes takes place. After a prologue in which a mother murders her young son, horrified by his ability to eat and digest a plastic wastebasket, Crimes mainly centres on Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen) and Caprice (Léa Seydoux), a pair of performance artists who have formed a symbiotic creative partnership. When first introduced, Tenser is rising from a sleepless night on his OrchidBed, a sarcophagus-like machine designed to adjust to his bodily needs, but which evidently needs some retuning. No matter, he has just produced a brand-new organ, never before seen, which also happens to be the raw material for the couple’s next piece. In their live performance, Caprice will, in a kind of literalist Grand Guignol style, remove the organ from Tenser’s prone body using a modified autopsy machine known as the SARK. 

In the world of Crimes, Tenser’s ability to grow new organs is far from unique; indeed, it is but one manifestation of what has been called “Accelerated Evolution Syndrome,” which has also led humans to lose the sensation of pain. But no one else had the stroke of genius to have their auxiliary organs removed for the delectation of a rapt audience. And as the couple’s considerable fame suggests, there is no substitute for the act of seeing with one’s own eyes.

Like Naked Lunch (1991) and eXistenZ, with which the new film shares aspects of its biomechanical visual design, Crimes presents us with an outwardly alien environment where our usual behavioural signposts are unmoored. Significantly, though, and very much unlike those films, Crimes gives us no reason to doubt its phenomenological coherence, so our interest mainly lies in making sense of its world as an organic whole and in placing Tenser and Caprice within it. To imagine a work of art is, after all, also to imagine a context—an entire form of life—in which it fits. In Cosmopolis (2012), Eric Packer’s desire to acquire the Rothko Chapel, which he proposes to move from Houston to his own apartment, asks us to consider a world where art has been completely stripped of its public function, reduced to nothing more than a unit of currency. Crimes imagines a world where performance art has become the reigning paradigm of artistic production, revolving around talk of the artist’s presence, artistic “embodiment,” and slogans such as “Body is Reality.” (Take, for instance, experimental filmmaker Len Lye, who in the 1968 lecture-performance “The Absolute Truth of the Happiness Acid” asserted that his “absolute truth” was in “the gene pattern which contains the one and only natural truth of our being.”) In short, the film confronts us with a world where all art has become fundamentally theatrical.

Taken in isolation, the art-world excursions in Crimes—whose sights include a man covered in ears, his eyes and mouth sewn shut, dancing to the slogan “It is time to listen”—are not really so far removed from the satire of, say, Ruben Östlund’s The Square (2017). What Cronenberg understands much more deeply, of course, is how changes in one realm of human activity reverberate to all others. We learn that Tenser and Caprice’s groundbreaking performances have prompted the creation of a new government department, the National Organ Registry (NOR), run by professional paper-pusher Wippet (Don McKellar) and his breathy assistant, Timlin (Kristen Stewart). We also learn that the widespread disappearance of pain, which makes the couple’s shows possible, has likewise transformed the very nature of sex, its relationship to violence, and a whole host of related ethical concerns. Capitalizing on the new biological regime, a company called LifeFormWare manufactures products—among them Tenser’s “living” OrchidBed and eating-aid units which recall the feeding machines from Modern Times (1936)—meant to “correct” adverse bodily changes. Meanwhile, in response to widespread pollution and environmental catastrophe, an underground movement has coalesced, comprising individuals who have undergone a surgery that enables them to digest plastic. The group subsists mainly on synthetic purple bars which they manufacture from industrial waste, and which are lethal to anyone who hasn’t undergone the same procedure. Anyone, that is, except the murdered boy from the prologue, Brecken, whose ability to digest plastic was said to be present from birth— inspiring his father, Lang Dotrice (Scott Speedman), a leader of the dissident movement, to declare him a “miracle.”

Like any good work of speculative fiction, Crimes may be linked to a range of observable real-world phenomena. The pandemic context resonates clearly with the film’s concerns around bureaucratic bio-control as represented by the organ registry; the disappearance of pain puts a literal twist on our so-called “desensitization” to images of violence and suffering; the activities of the dissident group directly confront looming food shortages and recent findings that we ingest micro-plastic on a daily basis. (Even the movement’s synthetic purple bars may be seen as a radical play on the We Got It! candy bar, produced by American artists Christopher Sperandio and Simon Grennan in collaboration with a suburban chocolate factory for Sculpture Chicago’s 1993 Culture in Action exhibition, widely considered a landmark event in public art.) As Crimes goes on, however, we are also made to feel the limits of thinking about its world by analogy to our own, of reading its future solely in relation to our present. Tenser remarks that the tattooing of new organs, as required by the government, seems to “take the process of meaning for itself,” as if neutralizing the organs’ as-yet-unknown functions by our existing forms of thought. The dynamic clearly parallels our tendency to read Crimes in relation to what we already know, and so we are led to consider how we might do otherwise.

From the start of his career, particularly in his early masterpiece The Brood (1979), Cronenberg has displayed an uncanny knack for exploring the relationship between plot and theme, at teasing out how events accrue significance and take on meaning. Much of Crimes comprises long, hushed conversations—at once portentous and mordantly funny—that showcase Cronenberg’s taste for emphatic acting that accentuates his characters’ salient attributes. These cryptic encounters, suggesting criss-crossing lines of conspiratorial action, eventually converge onto a special show that Tenser and Caprice put on at the prompting of Dotrice, who proposes that they perform a public autopsy on his dead son’s body. 

The show is the closest thing Crimes has to a climax, but as he did in Cosmopolis and Maps to the Stars (2014), Cronenberg practically neutralizes any sense of “rising action,” maintaining a somnolent drift that isn’t so much undramatic as anti-dramatic. Plenty happens in Crimes, but rather than heighten the dramatic impact of any given occurrence, Cronenberg, with his unerring tonal control and withholding camera, drains it of its presumed significance. Forcing us to consider the inadequacy of our thinking, Crimes creates a powerful sense that its narrative is only really articulable—only thinkable—in retrospect. It is after all significant that Cronenberg’s title refers not to crimes in the future (as we might speak of in Spielberg’s Philip K. Dick adaptation Minority Report [2002]) but to crimes of the future, for a crime of the future, much like the art of the future, cannot in any real sense be thought or conceived; its very nature is to escape our present understanding. To paraphrase the American philosopher Arthur C. Danto, if it were possible for someone to know what a future crime or work of art would look like, it would be useless knowledge, because no one else could recognize it as such. If other people could recognize it, it would belong to the present, after all.

Philosophers of history have observed that genuinely epochal changes—those shifts that transform what we think of as possible in any given age—do not happen incrementally or progressively but all at once, even as those living through them may have only a dim feeling that anything profound is happening. In any case, it is this sense of total transformation that Crimes leaves us with at the very end, in a finale as astounding and provocative as anything that Cronenberg has previously produced. The film’s last scene sees Tenser ingesting one of those (potentially lethal) synthetic purple bars, and culminates in a rapturous close-up of Mortensen, beatific, a single tear rolling down his face, his head slanted in the manner of a medieval Christian icon. Recalling the taking of communion, this closing image reminds us of a prior time, when what we now call works of art were entirely bound up with their ritual (mainly religious) function; but it also points to an unknown future populated by forms we cannot, from our present vantage point, even begin to imagine.And so, while we may not be able to say whether Crimes’ final image portends a creative cancer or creative evolution for the human race, Tenser’s closing gesture nonetheless constitutes an act of genuine human freedom: a confrontation with death, and an acceptance of a future that we cannot know.—Lawrence Garcia

Don McKellar: Cinema Scope magazine asked me to talk to you for a glossy cover article. Of course, the cover of Cinema Scope…make or break.

David Cronenberg: How could you resist such a thing?

McKellar: They actually honestly haven’t promised the cover, but it seems inevitable.

Cronenberg: We better get the cover. We better get the cover. 

McKellar: So, I thought let’s have a chat. Are you in France right now?

Cronenberg: I am so in Paris. You wouldn’t believe it. 

McKellar: Are you doing press?

Cronenberg: They had me doing five days of interviews at the end of April and then I had some free time and went to Italy because…I don’t want to say why, it’s a secret. I was in Milan and Florence for a couple of days and then came back to Paris and sort of thought, I’m going to have nothing to do, and then of course we found many things for me to do. 

McKellar: Great. And I guess you have had to speak a lot about the character of Wippet? It’s come up frequently?

Cronenberg: Uh, yes. It’s been fun. I went to Léa Seydoux’s house for dinner and she invited like four directors. It was lovely to see her again because I haven’t really seen her since Athens. And I have a lot of friends here, so…I realize how much I missed Paris. I used to come fairly regularly without it being a big deal, but with the pandemic there were over two years where my French friends said, “Don’t bother coming, it’s a nightmare, it’s all lockdown, you can’t do anything, you can’t even walk your dog…” All that stuff. So, I had to leave my dog…no, I don’t have a dog.

McKellar: Well, that’s nice. Is the film going over well? Have they seen it?

Cronenberg: I don’t know if I can talk about that. 

McKellar: We don’t know. But, of course, they are responding to the Wippet character. They love the Wippet character.

Cronenberg: No one has mentioned Wippet at all.

McKellar: I would think that the French would respond. He loves to talk about theory, he’s very chatty.

Cronenberg: No, no, you’re quite wrong. They talk about Timlin all the time.

McKellar: Oh well. Well, I’m taking the Wippet angle for this chat. 

Cronenberg: Please do.

McKellar: At first, I thought I should just do it in character and have your character interview you.

Cronenberg: I didn’t think there was much difference between you and your character Wippet, really. 

McKellar: Well, in the script it says “short and bespectacled,” so that’s a big change there. 

Cronenberg: Yeah, did you get laser eye surgery? Is that why you weren’t wearing spectacles? And did you get sort of surgical fat reduction?

McKellar: My theme for this chat is going to be Wippet’s concern for evolution being out of control. It seems to be a central theme of the movie. And I was thinking that this is a feeling that many people have felt. When I grew up, I had the sense that history was progressing in a positive direction and a sort of basic Hegelian teleology.   

Cronenberg: What a young fool you were. 

McKellar: It turns out I was. And I think a lot of us were, and certainly the last five or six years we’ve been disabused of that delusion. 

Cronenberg: This is good. This is the thing: there’s a common misunderstanding about what evolution is because the common feeling is that evolution does incorporate a Hegelian improvement, constant improvement, we are moving from animals to angels, from apes to angels. And Darwin never said that, you know: he was talking about evolution as changes that happened under the pressure of environment and competition, but not necessarily to the improvement of the species even, never mind the world. It means that under certain pressure the animals would change, become more adapted to the environment, but not necessarily make them better animals. And that applies to us too, really. 

McKellar: I think it’s because it developed sort of in parallel to Marxism, and it sort of bled in there. But it’s true that there’s no judgment in evolution. 

Cronenberg: No. And in the movie, Wippet is very leery of evolution, because he understands that evolution does not mean betterment or improvement or anything like that. It means change. Change that, as he says, could result in non-humans, however one wanted to define that. So yeah, Wippet is the canary in the coal mine, or something. 

McKellar: I’ve always thought of you as being very open to the idea of change and unsentimental about old technology, and even in your process, being open. I feel you’ve set up a working method that demands you to be receptive to the way things are changing on set. Do you know what I mean?

Cronenberg: Well certainly, shooting in Athens…

McKellar: Right. There’s no choice. 

Cronenberg: Embracing Athens, and, as I pointed out, the first shot in the movie is not in the script. It’s something that was presented by the environment.

McKellar: I’m interested in that. I read the script again last night, and the final result is largely the movie, but there are these little tell-tale changes, more like little mutations. Like, you write a scene in a motel, and even the idea of a motel in the finished movie is bizarre because there’s no cars, and it seems kind of wrong.

Cronenberg: Right. Well, certainly, having a motel in a society where cars do not exist would make sense in the movie, on a certain level. But you know, honestly, I’ve even forgotten about that because the reality of what we shot is now so strong that it’s like the script doesn’t even exist for me.

McKellar: The technology in the script seems much more stainless steel and hard-edged, and in the movie it became organic. How did that happen?

Cronenberg: Well, the SARK is very much as described in the script. But I had talked about something called the spiderweb bed, and when Carol Spier and I tried to design that, it looked terrible. It was unworkable, and I thought, “Yeah, okay, obviously we need to rethink this.” And the SARK is actually the key, as it’s sort of organic, it’s like an insect-like cocoon or something, and I thought, “I’m going to have to go full organic.” Of course, the chair already was described that way as well. So that was a big change. The spiderweb bed became the OrchidBed, and, of course, there were other epithets, which I will not mention. Do you know about those?

McKellar: For the beds?

Cronenberg: Yeah.

McKellar: I think so. I have some…

Cronenberg: I’m expecting you to be judicious. 

McKellar: I know. I can’t exploit my inside information. 

Cronenberg: Steve Solomos called it “the vagina bed,” and you know, he had a point. 

McKellar: He had a point. 

Cronenberg: So anyway, OrchidBed, very organic…

McKellar: But generally, I feel that the movie moved toward more organic technology. There is a sense that technology has failed, although there is very advanced technology in the movie in a certain way. Generally, people are less dependent on technology.

Cronenberg: Honestly, it doesn’t make rational sense that there should be this failure of technology and yet you have this SARK that does surgery, and very concise surgery, automatically. But the world is not rational. The things in the world don’t work rationally: that’s just what we have in our heads, but that’s not out there in the world. So I thought this was legitimate and it should work, and I get the feelings from the reactions that I’ve had so far that it does work, that it presents a world that is not a sci-fi world in the sense that everything is explained—you don’t hear about the government of the past that failed, and you don’t have any idea about any of those things.  But the feel of it, somehow, is organic. And it seems to work. 

McKellar: Even the nature of the script, I feel, develops in a kind of organic way. It’s variations on themes, and the way it’s plotted sort of culminates; it builds like an organism. Do you buy that theory?

Cronenberg: I think it is more like a mille-feuille dessert, with many layers of interacting flaky layers. 

McKellar: It’s funny because you said this, it’s not a…

Cronenberg: Okay, I’m sort of lying. It’s because I’m in Paris that I came up with that, but, well, there is a lot of over-and-under, interlocking stuff…In a script that works you could always describe it as organic, meaning that it seems to function…

McKellar: I guess so, but sometimes you feel led more by structure.

Cronenberg: Yeah, and sometimes you feel lead, like the metal. 

McKellar: Yes.

Cronenberg: Well, it seems to work that way. I mean, it was a first draft, I never wrote a second draft until basically getting to the editing room, where I cut out your entire role. 

McKellar: I’ve seen it, so you can’t…

Cronenberg: Okay, well, that was the early version, and you haven’t seen the latest version where Wippet only appears for about 40 seconds. But, yes, the complexity seems to work with many layers… 

McKellar: It’s funny that you say it’s not really science fiction, because I think as a genre it’s closer to film noir, in terms of its structure and the way it plays. There’s a crime at the beginning, and sort of a detective story. Viggo told me that, and I thought that helped me figure out my part. Because, I see, I’m sort of like Peter Lorre or something: one of those characters who may be good, may be bad, we don’t know exactly what they are up to, and every character is sort of like that. 

Cronenberg: I’m sad to hear this, because Viggo is going to ask for a directing co-credit now. 

McKellar: Because of that? Well, it was already written…

Cronenberg: Yeah, because it influenced your performance, and I’m going to have to admit that Viggo really directed the movie. Actually, as you know, it was in the nature of the whole collaboration. Everybody was really nice on this movie.

McKellar: I think I’ve always felt that is your secret. Your M.O. is to build this congenial environment, and, like I say, be open, make everyone feel that they are contributing—and they are in fact—and then you observe and everyone is very confident that you will…

Cronenberg: Intervene if necessary. 

McKellar: Yes, exactly. But you deliberately defer judgment. 

Cronenberg: That’s true. It reminds me of Ralph Fiennes saying that Spider (2002) was the movie in which he got the least direction from a director. He wasn’t saying that as a criticism, either. 

McKellar: No, exactly. 

Cronenberg: It was because of what you say. I love to see what actors bring without my pre-shaping it, other than what is in the script. 

McKellar: And it’s not only the performances, it’s the shooting and the design, the set. So, at what point do you decide? Because you told me that you observe: you set up the shot, you observe what is happening on the set, and then you come in knowing exactly what coverage you are going to do. When do you make that decision?

Cronenberg: Just on the spot. It’s very intuitive, and it comes and as Viggo has mentioned—and actually [cinematographer] Peter Suschitzky mentioned it too—over the years I shoot less and less and less.

McKellar: That’s what I find too, from eXistenZ to now. 

Cronenberg: When I shot Dead Ringers with Peter, I covered everything—close-up, medium close-up, medium shot, medium wide shot, wide shot, master—because I was feeling my way through it and I was still, even at that point, learning how to be a director, or at least, developing myself as a director. But I got to the point where it is a bit of minimalism, in the sense that I just feel like I’m seeing streaming series now where the coverage is incredible. It always opens with a drone shot…I’m happy to say that we have no drone shots in Crimes of the Future. Although I like drones.

McKellar: You are right about that. I’ve made a memo to myself: “Never put drone shots in movies anymore.” It’s overdone. The allure of the drone shot is over. 

Cronenberg: And lots of details of coverage of somebody’s cigarette being put out in an ashtray.

McKellar: Well, they also have multiple cameras too, and that’s something.

Cronenberg: Yeah, I mean, and as you know, I shoot with one camera and I just think, you know, that once or twice with an action sequence I might use multiple cameras, but I don’t think we had any of those really on Crimes, so… but it is intuitive, and you know that I don’t do a storyboard so I’m not, as you say, pre-judging. I’m letting things happen. But, of course, a lot of work has been done. We had eight weeks of prep and six weeks of shooting, and I think those proportions tell you something: that so much of the movie is directed in prep, which is not something that the general public knows much about. They don’t think of that as part of directing, but it hugely is: designing the set, figuring out where the light will come from…

McKellar: But still, it is not pre-directed. And that’s the main difference, I think. And that’s what the youngster might not understand as much. Because now, especially in the sort of new blockbuster thing, where everything is pre-shot basically and pre-storyboarded.

Cronenberg: That’s bizarre. I’ve seen a couple of those, and it’s like the whole movie is done with computer graphics. It’s incredibly bizarre. And then the studio, because it is usually a studio, is expecting to see a film version of the computer graphics version and gets upset. I’ve heard that from directors.

McKellar: Yes. They have to go back.

Cronenberg: It is still very common when doing superhero movies, where every thought is, “I can’t imagine this on an indie film.” Well, on an indie film you couldn’t afford it because they spend millions on that previs [previsualization].

McKellar: Obviously that doesn’t interest you, but what is your problem with that? Why wouldn’t you do that?

Cronenberg: It’s boring. 

McKellar: It’s just not fun?

Cronenberg: It’s like the previs would be that you already made the movie but it also would be, don’t forget, it’s like a moving storyboard, so you wouldn’t have any input from your actors.

McKellar: Not at all. 

Cronenberg: Not at all. And mostly, not with your director of photography, if he was not hired at that point. So you’re working with a previs guy, with a computer guy, to make your movie, so you are cutting out all those elements that I was talking about: the element of surprise, of found art, the stuff that happens on the set or in the streets of Athens that you didn’t anticipate and suddenly it’s there and a location hunt that surprises you and, yeah, that ship you see in the beginning of the movie. But it’s not in the previs so I’m not going to do it, you know. 

McKellar: Yeah, so there’s a lot of stuff like that. 

Cronenberg: I don’t know how to incorporate that into my vis. It cuts out the spontaneity and the found-art element. And to me, as a director, that would make it really, really boring to do. It would be just grinding it through the machine. Hitchcock talked about it that way, that expression, “grinding it through the machine.” He liked to say that he had it so completely planned that the actual shooting of the movie was just grinding it through the machine.

McKellar: Right, but he had no idea the degree of pre-planning that people do today, even Hitchcock.

Cronenberg: That’s right, and he’s presenting himself as being unique that way. But it’s also a bit of an ego thing, because he’s basically saying, “I’ve done everything in my head first, so even the cinematography, the actors, they are just doing what I told them to.”

McKellar: Yes, it felt a bit like a pose, because he got amazing performances.

Cronenberg: He did, and I think he was cheating. He was promoting himself as the puppet master and, yeah, he made great films, there is no doubt about it. 

McKellar: But do you feel, in the old Martin Scorsese sense, that cinema itself is evolving? How is cinema evolving? Is it mutating? Those films, like the ones you were talking about, the superhero films, are they another genre? Wippet’s concern that at some point humans will mutate to a point where they are no longer human—is there a point in cinema where it will no longer be cinema?

Cronenberg: I don’t think so. I think that even if it’s all television and there’s not one cinema, one theatre left in the world that shows movies, it will still be cinema, to me, if I’m watching it on my laptop. 

McKellar: What is essential in the DNA of cinema that has to be maintained?

Cronenberg: It’s storytelling with images and editing and, you know, that stuff. I’m not a purist that way, or maybe I am a purist. The essence of it cannot be destroyed by the fact that theatres are going down the toilet right now because of a combination of streaming and the pandemic, where everybody learned that you could actually have a pretty good cinematic experience at home. 

McKellar: Well, what if the director is eliminated because that job that you do, of making judgments on set and responding to actors, no longer is needed? Is it still cinema without a director?

Cronenberg: Absolutely not, impossible. Well, somebody would have to fulfill that role. Even if it was the computer graphics guy, he would then be making the choices of the costumes, the lighting, the locations. Whoever would be creating that stuff would be de facto the director.

McKellar: Is that a kind of latent art?

Cronenberg: Whether he actually gets to say “action” and “cut” or not would be irrelevant. 

McKellar: Do you think there is a kind or art developing now, a latent art, that we don’t know about, that is that new form? 

Cronenberg: I would hope it would be suppressed before it’s ever exposed.

McKellar: It’s an insurrectional art form that you don’t want to see?

Cronenberg: Yes. 

McKellar: At one point in the shoot, Léa came into my trailer and said, “You think that the ending is really sad, is it horrible?” And I sort of argued that I thought, and I don’t want to give away the ending too much, “No, I don’t think so, it’s evolution, he’s developing.” But I have to say that when I saw the film, it did seem very sad. 

Cronenberg: You used the word “sad.” It is a strange, I would say, almost pathetic transcendence. Viggo and I talked a lot about the ending of Carl Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), and Falconetti being burned at the stake. Of course, he’s not being burned at the stake, but in a way he is being burned at the stake of his own evolution. 

McKellar: Right. 

Cronenberg: And there is a tear, but it seems to be a tear of some kind of transcendent joy. But there is, nonetheless, a real sadness to it. And many people who have seen it have said that, despite the fact that we know that the movie is also quite funny, we must mention.

McKellar: Yes. But it did sort of surprise me, the sadness. And it is sort of hard not to see it, speaking of evolution. Sort of hard not to see it, of course, in the autobiographical sense of an artist evolving, seeing the world change around them, mutating, and struggling with his life. Do you see? I don’t want you to get autobiographical excessively, but do you see that it has informed the evolution of the film?

Cronenberg: Well, you know, as an aging person…

McKellar: An aging artist.

Cronenberg: Yes, an aging artist, okay. An aging human artist. Yeah, is it evolution, or is it just decay? I’m not sure. There is a process happening that is fascinating, it is of the essence. I’m experiencing it. There is a sense in which I am Saul Tenser, and in making this movie I am giving up some organs to the public. 

McKellar: Yes. 

Cronenberg: You very well know, as a writer-director yourself, that you are exposing yourself, you are being very vulnerable, naked when you make a movie. And, of course, you know about my NFT kidney stones thing.

McKellar: Yes, of course.

Cronenberg: I haven’t sold them yet.

McKellar: Oh no? It seemed like a bargain to me.

Cronenberg: Well, you can make an offer. 

McKellar: I’m working on some of my own, actually. 

Cronenberg: Yeah, mine are going to be better, let’s face it. I’m just more mature that way. 

McKellar: Yeah, more advanced. 

Cronenberg: We’d have to compare diets. Modify the structure of our kidney stones. I was being slightly satirical and playful with that, but also serious.

McKellar: But I think it’s also kind of moving, too. I think your exposure there, and I feel the struggle is actually what makes it, especially, quite affecting after time. It’s a strange feeling, more so than I thought, I would say. 

Cronenberg: In what sense do you mean?

McKellar: Just the film, like I say, I felt it more. I didn’t expect it to be emotionally moving in that way.

Cronenberg: I’m really glad you did, because I want it to be, I meant it to be, and there is stuff in the script that suggests that it should be. But it’s possible to lose a potential thing that for some reason didn’t work out because of the chemistry of the actors or the lack of it or whatever. And I think that Viggo and Léa had great chemistry. And, as you know, you have to be smart, but you have to be lucky with your casting, because it is hard to know. On paper, Léa and Viggo should be an interesting couple, because their relationship in the movie is really strange. It is not a normal, sexual love affair, but it is a love affair. You hope that is going to work, and it seems that it did work.

McKellar: It does, yeah. 

Cronenberg: Don, I have to say that not one of the journalists I’ve spoken to so far mentioned Hegel or Marx. 

McKellar: This is for a serious magazine!

Cronenberg: So I’m going to use that now. It was great to see you.