Body Language: An Interview With David Cronenberg

Where does a crime drama like Eastern Promises fit into your body of work, no pun intended? You started out as a sci-fi and horror pioneer.

David Cronenberg: Well, I think it fits in beautifully. For me, there’s no difference, I have to say. There’s no difference between doing a scene featuring strange body parts crawling around or dialogue. It’s all about trying to make it work, getting the best out of the actors, the dialogue, the lighting, the drama. Creatively, it just doesn’t feel different to me. The challenges are basically the same. For example, if you look at Eastern Promises, we have a lot of tattoos on the main character, so I tried to make sure that they looked correct, that they’re accurate, that the meaning they have works for the movie. In the scenes where Viggo is getting tattooed, I wanted to make sure it looked correct in terms of how it’s done. That’s sort of special effects, but it’s also drama. Stephan Dupuis, who won an Oscar for The Fly, did the tattoos, so I’m working with the same people. But we get excited about different things. The fans have to realize that this is exciting for me. It feels the same. I can’t look at it analytically, you know?

Body and horror are still central to the film. Bodies are getting cut up, slashed, impaled. You have Viggo battling to death in a bath house while totally naked.

Cronenberg: Yeah, and of course body horror was not my term. It was a term someone used to describe what I was doing, so it is not a category in my head that I use to make films. Those analytical things come after the movie is made; they don’t come before it for me. In fact, they don’t come to me at all unless I’m talking to someone like you and we discuss it. But in terms of making the movie, it never comes up. It’s just not a thought …