Recalling a few similar points that Steven Soderbergh made in his State of Cinema address, Robin Wright shared some thoughts about the state of modern Hollywood during a Q&A at the London Film Festival last night.
She began by talking about how she came to be involved in making The Congress before moving into some more general observations about modern Hollywood and its relation to the film.
Robin Wright: I met Ari [Folman] in 2009 at a Hollywood event and he said, you see where we are? And I said, yeah, I've been here many times before. And he said I want to make a movie about – he didn't use these words – but it's almost the Hollywood hardware. How they manipulate talent, artistry, thespians. The artisans. That's what we do, that's our craft.
He said, I want to make a film based on Stanislaw Lem, but it has nothing to do with Hollywood but I'm going to convert it and I want you to play the actress. Because you are seen in this way, everyone remembers you from Forest Gump and Princess Bride. I said, yeah pretty much. That's all I ever get. Which is great to be part of those iconic films but I'm forty-seven and I've made forty-seven films since but nobody remembers them [laughs].
So, we were laughing about that and he said, how great as a concept to use this actress that has been in the business for this long but everyone remembers her from those two iconic characters. I need to make a movie about that, based on the Stanislaw book [The Futurological Congress].
…I don't want to leave the business. I don't have regrets. I don't feel I've made bad choices, the way this fictionalised character has been sold to the studios. But I want to go through the cautionary tale that this story tells. About Hollywood. And what it is becoming.
I made a film with Bob Zemeckis, where you are downloaded with a chip. All of your expressions. I was in one of those tubes and did all of the expressions for The Christmas Carol. And I said, what do you do with that chip? Where you have me in 3D, a hologram, where I've done every expression you can make. And he said, I own you for life. I can do, with that chip, anything I want. I can make you any character I want.
So, it does exist and Bob Zemeckis has me. And he has Malkovich and everyone who was in the movie on a hard drive. Where he can manipulate, the way they did in this movie [The Congress] and create a character and make them speak and move and whatever. So, I thought, what a great concept to be a part of because not only is it a reality… but it's what the industry is becoming.
And I've been in this business almost thirty years and there is no more, what I remember as independent films. You get under $3 million – four people see it, maybe at Sundance – and then you have over $50 million. And it's generally today some Marvel comics or animation, Pixar. That's what Hollywood is becoming. It's very disheartening and saddening to have been here since I was sixteen and do this thing and it's evaporating in front of us. It's weird.
So, we made this three years ago and now we're almost there. Where is that middle ground? Where are the American Beautys, the Silkwoods and the Scarfaces. Where did they go? There's such a vast area that's been evaporated. And I think that was what he was trying to tap on, its the cautionary tale within that. Which is, watch people what can happen to this beautiful art, this medium that we're a part of. And yes, he exaggerated and exemplified it but in such a beautiful way I think.
The Congress will be released by Drafthouse Films in America and by Studio Canal in the UK. Release dates to be confirmed.