Cate Blanchett, Denis Ménochet… the royal casting of “Rumeurs” commented by its directors

OUT OF COMPETITION – The greats of this world threatened by mummies in the middle of the G7 summit. So much for the plot of this comical political satire joyfully carried out by Guy Maddin and the Johnson brothers who return to their choice casting.

Denis Ménochet and Cate Blanchett on the red carpet for “Rumeurs”, by Guy Maddin and Evan and Galen Johnson. Cannes, May 18, 2024.

Denis Ménochet and Cate Blanchett on the red carpet for “Rumeurs”, by Guy Maddin and Evan and Galen Johnson. Cannes, May 18, 2024. Photo Stéphane Cardinale/Corbis via Getty Images

By Samuel Douhaire

Published on May 20, 2024 at 4:34 p.m.

Updated May 20, 2024 at 4:55 p.m.

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Uhe G7 summit in the enchanting setting of a German castle turns into a nightmare when the leaders of the seven most industrialized countries find themselves mysteriously cut off from the world… and under the threat of muddy mummies who come back to life after being exhumed during archaeological digs . Rumors, with its mixture of political satire and offbeat zombie film, made spectators at the Cannes Film Festival laugh, where it was presented out of competition on Saturday May 18. The next day, we find on the sunny terrace of a palace on the Croisette the three authors of the film, the veteran Guy Maddin and the two Johnson brothers, Evan and Galen, like him from Winnipeg, the coldest city in Canada. We asked the three accomplices from broke, if not underground, independent cinema to comment on the prestigious casting of their film, which brings together, among others, Cate Blanchett (as Angela Merkel’s glamorous double), Denis Ménochet (very funny as the French president obviously arrogant and full of himself) or the American Charles Dance. Without forgetting, for a few scenes, Alicia Vikander in the role of a president of the European Commission who is completely in the West and who, a tasty gag, speaks a language that no one understands…

The Canadian trio of broke independent cinema, Galen Johnson, Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson. May 18, 2024, Cannes.

The Canadian trio of broke independent cinema, Galen Johnson, Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson. May 18, 2024, Cannes.

The Canadian trio of broke independent cinema, Galen Johnson, Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson. May 18, 2024, Cannes. Photo Cindy Ord/Getty Images via AFP

German Chancellor: Cate Blanchett

Guy Maddin: Cate Blanchett, who is Australian, is the only performer of Rumors not to play a character of your own nationality.
Evan Johnson: We initially thought of a German actress to be consistent with the rest of the casting. But as we had the opportunity to work with Cate, we changed our minds. We could never have hoped for a star of this level.
Galen Johnson: We were very reluctant to cast a non-Germanic as the chancellor. But Cate made it easier. In addition to her comedic talent, she is very precise in her acting technique, she is able to adopt any accent while being credible.
GM: Cate is a perfectionist. When we finished the film, she asked a German friend to watch it. Some pronunciations did not suit her, she asked to redo them in post-production.

Charles Dance could run in the November election.

Guy Maddin

President of the United States: Charles Dance

GM: There are so many films where American characters save the world… We needed some sort of dream vision of the President of the United States. We agreed that he should look like a Brit.
EJ: So we looked for the most British American actor possible…
GJ: …and as presidential as possible.
GM: Charles Dance could run in the November election. I could see him as a third party candidate, we would finally have someone who made sense!

The President of the French Republic: Denis Ménochet

GM: It would have been easy to say to Denis: “you have to play a clone of Emmanuel Macron”. But his character is more complex. We wanted him to be an intellectual, a poet, but also someone immature… Denis thought more of an avatar of Father Ubu.
GJ: In Rumorsthe French president seems the only head of state or government to have philosophical background.
EJ: When we watch political debates on French television, your elected officials sometimes address complex issues. Americans and Canadians spend their time insulting each other. And our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is absolutely not a nerd!
GM: However, we have closely observed the images of Macron taken during the G7 summits or at the Elysée, when he has his two phones, when he takes off his watch under the table… Wanting to show in Rumors world leaders interacting with each other behind the scenes of negotiations, out of sight, we had the impression of filming porn clips at the G7. And Macron is one of the biggest porn stars in the G7!

Italian Prime Minister: Rolando Ravello

GJ: We weren’t inspired by a specific politician, but by an Italian bartender from our hometown. He is not a professional actor, which does not prevent him from having a lot of talent. We wanted to hire him for the film, but he had to give up for health reasons. So we did a casting call to find an Italian actor who could look like a guy from Winnipeg, with the same spirit, the same body language. Our character is therefore very different from Silvio Berlusconi or Giorgia Meloni, even if he says he regrets having worn a fascist uniform during a costume ball!

Our ideas are often crazy.

Evan Johnson

Canadian Prime Minister: Roy Denis

GJ: The fact that the Canadian Prime Minister has the most important role in the film is not about patriotism (laughs) ! The character was written for Roy Denis with whom we had already worked on The Forbidden Room (2015). We appreciate his ability to remain straight, constantly serious whatever his role.
VE: Our ideas are often crazy. Having them played by such a serious actor creates an interesting comic effect. His final speech addressing the world is a reference to that of Charlie Chaplin in The dictator (1939). It contains borrowings from two famous suicide letters: that of the romantic poet Heinrich Von Kleist and that of Kurt Cobain through the phrase “It’s better to burn out than to fade away” (“it is better to burn openly than to go out slowly”), itself borrowed from a song by our compatriot Neil Young (Hey hey, My My). Using parting words in a political manifesto says a lot about the psychology of the character…

:t2: Rumors, by Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson and Galen Johnson (Canada, 1h58). Out of competition. Waiting for release date.

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