Mister Korine

Advocate film critic Kyle Buchanan sits down with director Harmony Korine to discuss his new movie Mister Lonely about a Michael Jackson impersonator, dropping mushrooms, and why he loves Southern gays so much.

BY Kyle Buchanan

April 30 2008 11:00 PM ET

In the film, Michael is accused of having an affair
with Marilyn. Is his interest in her romantic?

I don't know. You
tell me!

It didn't seem that way to me. In fact, I thought
his sexuality might have something to do with his desire
to impersonate Michael Jackson.

You know, it's
hard to say. I think you could take it a lot of different
ways. Maybe he has a little bit of that interest in her, but
maybe he doesn't feel it so much. I don't know. I
mean, I have my own ideas and opinions on characters
and relationships, but there's no right or wrong way
to see them.

What appealed to you about using Michael Jackson in
this film?

The reason I
liked the idea of focusing on a Michael Jackson impersonator
is that Michael Jackson, in some ways, is symbolic of this
person without sex. A boy, a man, white, black, young,
old…there's this ghostly presence. And when
thinking about it, for me, it felt like, He should be
Mexican.
I'd seen Diego in movies and I met with
him and there was this boyishness, this ethereal nature
and this charm. It just felt right.

There's a scene early on where Diego is doing his
Michael Jackson dance moves on a busy French street.
Were the reactions candid?

Some people would
walk by, others would shrug, some would become
confrontational. We did it in Paris, and I don't think they
dig him so much.

Who, Michael Jackson? I thought he was still
popular in Europe.

I guess not in
Paris!

Did Diego learn the moves easily? He was in Dirty
Dancing 2,
after all.

No, no, no, he
could never replicate that performance! [Laughs] We
spent time with him, but he also worked with a real
Mexican Michael Jackson impersonator. I never met him,
but I guess Diego found him on his own. He's a famous
Michael Jackson impersonator in Mexico City.

And you've known Samantha Morton for a long time, right?

I met her first
at my apartment in New York -- maybe 1995, '96. I think
it was her first trip to America. I'd just done a lot of
mushrooms -- like, three to four days' worth of eating
mushrooms. She came in and I think she just held my
hand and we talked for a little while.

How was it working with her? I’ve heard she can
be a little strong-willed about…

Everything. Yeah,
she is. She has a very definite idea of what her
character is about. You know, I've watched her career and
what she’s done, and I’ve always thought
she was one of the best actresses working.
She’s someone who’s just fun to watch.
Samantha’s got a lot of depth, and you can take
her to a deep place.

Your wife, Rachel, plays a Little Red Riding Hood
impersonator in the film -- but Red's a fictional
character, not a celebrity. What gives?

Originally she
was gonna play Britney Spears. When we were figuring out
who the celebrities were as we wrote it, we wanted them to
be iconic, instantly recognizable -- and then there
were certain people whose mythology I thought was
interesting and could maybe bleed into the narrative.
Then we put her in a Britney Spears outfit and she just
looked like a slutty teenager. There wasn't anything
behind it; there wasn't anything visually interesting
about it. I couldn't come up with a new replacement,
so I went on some sites and talked to some people, and for
some reason I saw tons of Little Red Riding Hoods. Maybe it
was a children’s birthday party thing?

Tags: film

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