Yorgos Lanthimos’s Movies Are Weird, Violent, and Disturbingly Funny. What's It Like to Be in One?

Colman: He won’t blow smoke up your ass, which I love. He’s gentle, and calm, he will never pretend, his approval is completely real when you get it, and that feels amazing. He will also not pretend if it’s not what he wanted. He’s honest. That is a really beautiful trait. There’s no second guessing. A dream.

Dafoe: He teases me a lot. Sometimes if I do something where, I guess, I’m self-conscious, or I lean into some bag of tricks he says, “Uh-oh. You did a Willem.” He’s making of fun of me that I have certain things I do. But it keeps you honest, and he does it in a playful way. [And] he’s usually very correct, because sometimes when you’re lost you lean into something that’s familiar.

Robbie Ryan (Cinematographer, The Favourite, Poor Things, and Kinds of Kindness): He likes some of the personality I bring to the camera, which is usually bad operating. “We’ll go for the Robbie Wobble.” You’re like, “Okay, thanks.”

“One more for Robbie” is what he usually says, because I’ve got something wrong somewhere.

Plemons: We shot this bathroom sequence in the first [segment], where I played Robert. We had done a bigger scene before that and I somehow completely overlooked that we had this other bathroom shot, where Robert goes and puts water on his face. This is maybe two and half weeks in or so, and, because of the environment that he created, I just sort of had an idea in the moment. I cannot tell you exactly what this idea was, but looking at this bathroom as something maybe less literal. And I did a take, expecting him to say something. And then next take I did something different and then the next take I did something different. And I went out and I was like, “Unless you give me something I’m just going to keep messing around.” He was like, “Well, I’m not going to.”

Weisz: On The Favourite, I got rather sentimental acting opposite the character [of] my husband, played by Mark Gatiss, who was going off to war, and Yorgos said, “Rachel. You are Sarah!” It made me laugh, because I knew what he meant—that I had gone off-piste and wasn’t being true to my character. She wasn’t a sentimental gal. It was minimal, funny and precise.

Yorgos Lanthimos and Mamoudou Athie on the set of 'Kinds of Kindness'

Lanthimos and Mamoudou Athie on the set of Kinds of Kindness.Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

On the violence (and the sex)

Even when the material is at its darkest—and Kinds of Kindness gets pretty, pretty darkLanthimos remains a pretty chill guy, according to his collaborators.

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