Bruce Wagner's script for Hollywood-set thriller Maps to the Stars was reportedly so weird, acerbic and risky that no one would dare touch it - that is, no one but the Canadian king of all things weird, David Cronenberg, who has been trying to get the film made for over a year. The details of the plot are being kept under wraps, but it's been called a "ghost story" of sorts, centered on the lives of two former child stars living in L.A.
The other reason that L.A.-based studios have been wary of funding the film is that it's reportedly a scathing attack on celebrity culture and Hollywood society in particular, possibly comparable to Brett Easton Ellis' novel 1998 Glamorama. However, despite the difficulties, Cronenberg's new project has been green-lit and is set to star Robert Pattinson in the lead role, along with Julianne Moore, John Cusack and Sarah Gadon. Filming will begin in Toronto and Los Angeles in July of this year.
Pattinson has been attached to the project almost since its conception and, as was the case with Cronenberg's 2012 thriller Cosmopolis, it's largely thanks to the involvement of the highly bankable star that Maps to the Stars has received funding and is heading into production. The film is being co-financed by Entertainment One Films, who are also in charge of worldwide sales and distribution, and Martin Katz's production company Prospero Pictures, who also worked with Cronenberg on Cosmopolis and A Dangerous Method.
Noticeably absent from this cast list is Viggo Mortensen, who was attached to Maps to the Stars for almost as long as Pattinson was. It's likely that the project's spell in development limbo meant that Mortensen ended up with scheduling conflicts that prevented him from staying committed, as the actor has since signed on to produce and star in Argentinian director Lisandro Alonso's new drama. Based on the cast names that have been revealed so far, John Cusack seems the most likely fit for the role that Mortensen has vacated (more so than Julianne Moore, anyway).
Though Cronenberg is something of a legend for his work on '80s and '90s horror classics like Scanners, The Fly and Videodrome, his most recent releases have received more mixed reviews, and Cosmopolis in particular felt shallow and poorly paced, failing to inspire confidence in the partnership of Cronenberg and Pattinson. We can only hope that, outside of a film where the central premise is a guy sitting in a limousine talking in monotone about economics for nearly two hours, the director and star have a little more to offer.
There is, of course, an enormous amount of diversity among Cronenberg's work, and between the reputation of the script and the strong director and cast that have been assembled, Maps to the Stars might be one of the most interesting films being shot this year. L.A. and Toronto residents should definitely let us know if they spy the crew out on the streets this summer.
We'll let you know when Maps to the Stars gets an official release date.
Source: Coming Soon