Benjamin Caron On His New Con Man Film, Julianne Moore, ‘The Battle Of Algiers’ Influence On ‘Andor’ & More [The Discourse Podcast]
Feb 16, 2023
In today’s episode of The Discourse, host Mike DeAngelo sits down to talk about con man movies with director Benjamin Caron (“The Crown,” “Andor,” “Wallander”). The director is currently promoting his film, “Sharper,” which follows multiple con men and women in New York City who are all searching for the perfect mark and the biggest take. The A24 film hits Apple TV+ on February 17 and stars Sebastian Stan, Julianne Moore, John Lithgow, Justice Smith, and Briana Middleton.
READ MORE: ‘Sharper’ Review: This Stylish Psychological Thriller Stars Julianne Moore and Sebastian Stan
During the chat, Caron talks about his love of the conman/grifter genre and ultimately deciding to make “Sharper” his feature film debut due to the surprising nature of the script.
“I was coming to the end of [‘Andor’], and my agent sent me ‘Sharper,’ and I just inhaled it,” Caron said. “And I was like, ‘Wow, I didn’t guess any of this!’ It surprised me at every twist and reversal. And I just thought, that’s what I love as an audience member going to the cinema and being surprised. And I was constantly surprised with [Sharper]. And it had Julianne Moore, and it had A24, and it had Apple. And I was like, this is a dream opportunity. So, I just had to go win it.”
And win it, he did. Soon John Lithgow, Sebastian Stan, Justice Smith, and Briana Middleton came on board, and Caron was off to the races. In the interview, Caron revealed that a surprising film ended up influencing his final act during shooting — David Fincher’s beloved serial killer masterpiece, “Seven.”
“I remember watching ‘Seven’ and kind of enjoying how the claustrophobia of that film was a part of the tone and the mood of the film. And then at the end, you have that big open space, and I [thought] that was something that we could use,” Caron said. “I have that film to thank, and I’m not trying to give anything away, but the final act of [‘Sharper’] took place in a warehouse.”
“We came to one moment one day I was talking to the cinematographer, Charlotte Bruus Christensen,” he recalled. “And she was like, ‘maybe it’s the character of the location that’s getting in the way, and maybe we need free ourselves of that.’ And we talked about ‘Seven,’ and we talked about how at the end of that movie, they go out to the desert, and there’s nowhere for those characters to hide. And, in a sense, the location isn’t the character anymore. And in a film like ‘Sharper,’ where the location of New York was absolutely a kind of important character in the movie, it made sense at the end when we get to that final act to just get rid of that. So that’s why we go to that open space, and that’s why, you know, those characters have got nowhere to hide.”
READ MORE: 12 Movies To See In February: ‘Magic Mike 3,’ ‘Sharper’ & ‘Knock At The Cabin’
During the press junket for the film, Julianne Moore, a noted gun control advocate, became a bit of a story for using a gun in the film after swearing it off many years ago. Caron was quick to point out why that ultimately became the case and if they ever considered not using guns at all in the movie.
“We actually did try to come up with another ending that didn’t involve a gun because I listened to her. She was like, ‘I would love for this movie not to have a gun,” Caron said. “And, we came up with something that just didn’t work. We tried three or four different ideas. I think we spent weeks trying to come up with other ideas, but we kind of pivoted back to where we’d started. We came to the conclusion that even the way it is used in the film is not celebrated. It’s actually showing what can happen when a gun is used. And so, listen, I’m not a big fan of guns in movies, and it was a difficult conversation, and I’m glad that we had to talk about it.”
Caron is also coming off directing multiple episodes of the hit Disney+ “Star Wars” series, “Andor,” including the fan-favorite season one finale. While discussing his time shooting “Andor,” Caron mentioned bringing another unexpected source of inspiration to the finale, which showrunner Tony Gilroy loved.
“For the [Andor] finale, I pitched Tony [Gilroy] ‘The Battle of Algiers,’” he said, referencing the classic 1966 Italian-Algerian war/insurgency film co-written and directed by Gillo Pontecorvo. “I was like, ‘There’s something [similar] about what you’ve written. And [Tony] was like, ‘That’s it!’ It’s like the sort of visceral nature of that movie was something that I just thought would naturally fit this sort of finale and this sort of uprising between the people of Ferrix and the Empire. So, that was the kind of starting point for that ending. And then it was just the process of breaking everything down to the individual beats of the story. But, you know, it was amazing. I had the best time on Andor.”
“Sharper” will be available to stream on Apple TV+ on Friday, February 17. You can listen to the entire conversation with Benjamin Caron below.
The Discourse is part of The Playlist Podcast Network, which includes The Playlist Podcast, Be Reel, Deep Focus, The Fourth Wall, Bingeworthy & more. We can be heard on Apple Podcasts, AnchorFM, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Spotify, and most places where podcasts are found. You can stream the podcast via the embed within the article or click on the lead image at the top page. Be sure to subscribe and drop us a comment or a rating, as we greatly appreciate it. Thank you for listening.
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