Egoyan ‘Goes Hollywood’ with big-budget sex thriller

Vancouver Sun, Canada
Jan 10 2009

Egoyan ‘Goes Hollywood’ with big-budget sex thriller

Egoyan gets the call to direct big-budget sex thriller

By Michael D. Reid, Times ColonistJanuary 10, 2009

Yes, Atom Egoyan says, it’s true. He’s going Hollywood and this time
it’s on his own terms.

Egoyan, 48, will direct Chloe, an erotic thriller starring Oscar
nominees Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson, and Amanda Seyfried (Mamma
Mia!). The script was penned by one of Egoyan’s favourite writers —
Erin Cressida Wilson (Secretary).

Described as "a smart, sexy thriller in the vein of Fatal Attraction,"
Chloe, which starts filming in Toronto Feb. 9, centres on a successful
doctor (Moore) who inadvertently endangers her family when she hires
an alluring young escort (Seyfried) to seduce her husband (Neeson),
whom she suspects of cheating.

"It’s a really intelligent script," Egoyan said. "It’s incredible
because the prostitute comes back with these amazing erotic stories
about a man his wife thought she knew. She gets addicted to them and
they enter into a complicated relationship."

The escort’s seductive behaviour begins to obsess Moore’s character,
reawakening her sexual desire.

Chloe is being fully financed by StudioCanal, the French production
company behind the Coen brothers’ Burn After Reading.

It’s being produced through Montecito Picture Company, co-founded by
Ivan Reitman and former Universal chairman Tom Pollock, who developed
the film. Their company has produced a string of hits including Old
School, Eurotrip and Disturbia.

Juno director Jason Reitman is an executive producer, and Joe Medjuck
and Jeffrey Cllifford will also produce.

"Working with Liam is what really made it come together," Egoyan
explained.

The Victoria-raised filmmaker directed Neeson last summer in an
acclaimed Lincoln Center remount of Eh, Joe, a mixed-media production
of Samuel Beckett’s teleplay.

Ironically, Neeson had been approached to do an earlier incarnation of
the film, but declined.

"He said he wanted us to work together again, so I implored him to
read it again," Egoyan said.

After making his mark internationally with a dozen indie features
exploring themes including alienation, incest, genocide and
technology, Egoyan said the timing was right for him to branch out
with a film regarded as more mainstream.

"It will be liberating," said Egoyan, whose 12th feature — Adoration,
an exploration of deception in the Internet age — is being released
this spring.

"Chloe is an interesting hybrid," he said. "Even though there’s this
aspect of storytelling about people getting caught up in histories and
projections they don’t understand — a study of certain needs and
desires — it is, unlike my own scripts, quite linear."

He said he was impressed that Seyfried, whom he saw in open auditions
in Los Angeles before Mamma Mia opened, was fearless in taking on her
challenging role. "She has this extraordinary combination of sincerity
and drive and endless depths of emotional reserve," he said.

Laughingly describing Ivan Reitman as "Mr. Hollywood," Egoyan said
he’s enjoying working with the veteran Toronto producer and director
(Animal House, Ghostbusters) who was a fan of his 1999 drama,
Felicia’s Journey.

He looked at several genre options before joining the creative team
behind Chloe, he said. "It’s full of psychological nuance. It’s very
much in my world even though it’s written by someone else."

He said this Hollywood experience is far more satisfying than his
first unpleasant foray in 1995 when he spent a year "wasting time in
L.A." waging polite battles with Warner Bros. executives who invited
him to direct the thriller Dead Sleep.

The studio resisted Egoyan’s casting choice of Susan Sarandon, who
then became unavailable after her Oscar win for Dead Man Walking.

Disillusioned and with his option about to expire on The Sweet
Hereafter, Egoyan walked away from the studio deal to make his
masterwork based on the Russell Banks novel. It brought him Oscar
nominations for best direction and adapted screenplay.

"I have more of a sense that everything feels right this time," said
Egoyan, who says he’s a genre enthusiast despite his reputation as an
auteur. "It’s subject matter I feel I can serve because I’ve had time
to work on the script and I’m thrilled that I got my dream cast."

Although Chloe was originally set in San Francisco, he persuaded
Reitman to relocate to Toronto, where he could work with his own team,
including director of photography Paul Sarossy and composer Mychael
Danna.

"It’s a wintry film," he said. "I tried to make the point, for better
or worse, that most Americans are familiar with Toronto."

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