The French choreographer spoke with WSN to speak about his love of the unique “Carmen” opera, his directorial debut in its new movie adaptation and what he hopes audiences will take away from his interpretation.
Born and raised in Bordeaux, France, Benjamin Millepied first began dancing on the age of 8 when his mom, a ballet dancer herself, turned his first instructor. After spending his early adolescence at a conservatory in Lyon, and with a scholarship from the French Ministry, Millepied moved to New York Metropolis to check full time on the College of American Ballet beneath the mentorship of the legendary Jerome Robbins of “West Facet Story.” Past dance, he has additionally been concerned in movie, most notably in “Black Swan” starring Natalie Portman, to whom he’s now married.
In restricted theatrical launch as of April 21, “Carmen” is Millepied’s directorial debut, a ardour venture of his for a few years. WSN sat down with Millepied to speak about bringing dance to the silver display, casting Melissa Barerra (“Scream IV” and “Within the Heights”) and Paul Mescal (“Aftersun”), and the artwork of collaboration.
This interview has been edited for size and readability.
WSN: The unique opera “Carmen” takes place in Seville, Spain, in 1820. What knowledgeable your determination to switch the story to present-day America?
Millepied: I believe it was vital, to start with, to reinvent the story to have a good time this girl, Carmen, for her freedom, her fearlessness, her magical qualities, this integrity she has in any respect prices. To modernize it was additionally important as a result of I wished audiences to narrate to the story, so setting it in a present time helped with that connection.
The border and this journey the characters take to Los Angeles has to do with my love of California, and the truth that these points have been part of my surroundings as an immigrant from France. It simply made sense. It was actually ironic, nevertheless, as a result of we needed to make the film in Australia resulting from pandemic restrictions. You do all the planning and make the proper imaginative and prescient, however then notice you’ll be able to’t do it on the precise location — but it surely all works out as Australia has landscapes that labored completely for what we had deliberate.
WSN: “Carmen” stands out for its symbolism and a particularly theatrical strategy to storytelling. How did you employ totally different filmmaking components to assist your distinctive imaginative and prescient?
Millepied: In my film, I wished Carmen to have these stunning components and freedom, but additionally have a chance to satisfy somebody she will be able to have a reference to and have this journey the place he accompanies her by means of life and loss of life, and so they each get one thing very stunning out of it. They acknowledge this sort of magnificence in one another, as he sees her for who she is. These are two individuals coming from fully totally different backgrounds who shouldn’t be falling in love, contemplating the confrontation on the border the place they met, however nonetheless, they do.
WSN: The movie’s story is centered round Carmen and Aidan’s relationship with each other. How did you go about casting Melissa Barrera and Paul Mescal?
Millepied: I wished a Mexican girl who couldn’t solely sing and dance and act, but additionally possessed a lot braveness and energy and fearlessness and thriller with out being cliché. I appeared by means of hundreds of movies of so many proficient actresses, and she or he was above the remaining. She has such a pure and easy power that shines each time she sings and dances, and once I met together with her and mentioned the position of Carmen I used to be struck by her private connection to the fabric and to who Carmen is as a human being.
Paul Mescal first appeared on my radar in 2020 with the premiere of “Regular Individuals.” As Connell, you might see how he was not solely a bodily actor, however one who can get to the center of a personality’s inside struggles and misfortunes with a degree of sensitivity that’s wanted. Though Paul wanted to learn to field and dance for the position of Aidan, after we first met, I noticed in him a willingness to do no matter work wanted to be executed to completely embody the character. For each Paul and Melissa, the bodily calls for might have been a tough hurdle, however they put of their all to the dance classes and the boxing classes, and it ended up being a hit.
WSN: Seeing Tracy “The D.O.C.” Curry within the movie was a pleasing shock. How did his position come about?
Millepied: That was an excellent concept to which [composer] Nicholas Britell will get all of the credit score for. I had mentioned how I might like to have a hip-hop tune within the movie as a nod to the style’s affect on Los Angeles’ cultural panorama. Brittell bought into contact with Tracy by means of a mutual pal, and to our shock, he was on board, regardless of not having recorded in 20 years. Ultimately, The D.O.C. was the proper particular person to represent the historical past of rap and hip-hop, which turned an ideal present for us.
WSN: Your background in dance is intensive, as proven together with your expertise with the New York Metropolis Ballet, the L.A. Dance Mission and the Paris Opera Ballet. Though you’ve labored on movies earlier than, what shocked you most about being within the director’s chair?
Millepied: I believe what’s most shocking was how fantastic the method of writing a narrative, having a imaginative and prescient, after which gathering the correct individuals to work with. It’s like gathering your Seven Samurai to return with you to battle — the individuals you suppose are precisely proper to embody and enrich that venture. It’s actually wonderful to then set them free and offer you as a lot of their expertise as potential and to be carried by the collaborative power, and the shared purpose of expressing magnificence.
Contact Madeline Kane at [email protected]