Damsel press conference with Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska, David Zellner and Nathan Zellner
Triumphant after presenting their woke Western, Damsel, at the Berlinale, directors David and Nathan Zellner were joined by stars Robert Pattinson and Mia Wasikowska at the press conference to discuss the Western genre, female heroes and the #MeToo movement.
What was the inspiration behind the film?
Nathan Zellner: A lot of the Westerns and period pieces we were inspired by were the Technicolor Westerns of the 50s that had a little bit more rich colour so we really tried to embrace that with the environment we were in and tried not to make the “Desert-Western” with the sepia tone that you see a lot nowadays. We really tried to keep it wide and tried to keep the landscape as a character, which I think is essential for this type of movie.
David Zellner: Since Nathan and I were inspired from the Westerns we would see as kids, we were bored of the clichés and tropes. The female characters are often very boring; they’re an object of desire or a prize to be obtained by the hero, and those elements of the Western were tired and uninteresting. So we wanted to make [Penelope] a complex human and take some of the old tropes of the Western and put some relatable, human conflicts in there to make it more complex and then amp it up for comedic purposes.
NZ: We want to make movies that we would like to see and that we haven’t seen, so it is an experiment in that regard. It’s a challenge, coming up with a unique structure to flip things on their head and balancing the humour, trying to make a comedy that isn’t joke after joke after joke that is grounded in realism. That’s what we liked about the project from the beginning.
To Robert Pattinson. I get the impression from interviews that you are a little traumatised from your work on the Twilight series Would you ever consider working on a large franchise again?
Robert Pattinson: That was an accident to sound traumatised, I wasn’t traumatised at all. That’s just how my face looks. I’ve never had a bad experience on any movie I’ve done. Maybe one. The only reason why I’m a little cautious about big franchise projects is you cant make them R-rated and if you have more of a budget you have more people on you saying, “You have to do it this way otherwise you’re fired”.
What is your impression of the #MeToo movement and how it’s impacting the entertainment landscape?
Mia Wasikowska: I think this is a growing consciousness, changing the way women are seen – whether it’s in films or in culture or how they’re represented. I think the more you see empowering female characters who know who they are, who are challenging expectations that are deeply ingrained in culture, the better the fallout effect is.
RP: If you feel like you’ve been wronged and don’t have the ability to tell anyone about it, or that you’ve been bullied into silence, it’s kind of amazing when any kind of dam breaks and people have the numbers to expose this abuse. I think its pretty amazing.
Damsel does not have a UK release date yet. Read our review here.
Read more reviews and interviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival 2018.