Natalie Portman, Nicholas Hoult Join Xavier Dolan’s Hollywood Debut
French-Canadian prodigy Xavier Dolan is cinema’s next big thing, and everyone’s starting to realize it. Though that may be unfair, he’s more of a current big thing. The twenty-six-year-old has five well-reviewed, festival-approved features under his belt with two more to come in 2016, and these aren’t Cormanesque quick-and-dirty cheapies that can be cranked out in a matter of weeks, either. Dolan’s productions are involved affairs — a transgender romantic epic that nearly stretches on for three rapturous hours, a portrait of suburban hopelessness that physically opens itself up as its hero’s world expands, a taut psychothriller about the dangers of staying in the closet. Singer-songwriter Adele’s team recognized Dolan’s stylistic aplomb when they hired him to direct her “Hello” video, and now a new wave of stars have hopped his gravy train.
One of the most hotly anticipated films on the docket for this year is Dolan’s The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, the filmmaker’s first foray into English-language scripting and his first collaboration with Hollywood A-listers. Deadline has the exclusive today that another round of casting has brought even more wattage into this buzzy production, with Natalie Portman, Nicholas Hoult, and The Slap’s Thandie Newton all joining the cast in unspecified roles.
The showbiz satire currently stars Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington in the title role as a screen idol whose questionable correspondence with an underage fan is outed by a gossip columnist (Jessica Chastain) much to his own shame, the horror of his publicist (Kathy Bates), and the disappointment of his mother (Susan Sarandon).
While Portman has been relatively quiet as of late, 2016 is poised to be her year, with her directorial debut entering a public release, Jane Got a Gun and The Knight of Cups finally reaching human eyes after years of delays, and another film with Terence Malick on the way. Nicholas Hoult will keep up the momentum he gained with his key supporting role in last year’s Mad Max: Fury Road.
Anyone who’s seen his films knew Dolan would want to make a splash with his grand debut to Hollywood, and with a cast like this, he’s sending a message. He is a major director, someone that high-profile stars want to work with, and he’s capitalizing on that as much as he can.