October 1, 2023
As 'May December' Gets Raves, Todd Haynes Looks Forward to Queer Drama with Joaquin Phoenix
READ TIME: 3 MIN.
Todd Haynes is on the film festival circuit with his latest project, "May December." The dark comedy stars Natalie Portman as an evasive reporter who insinuates herself into the life of Julianne Moore, as a woman whose affair with a student led to public censure years before. In the film, Portman is writing a story about Moore years after the incident that is said to be based on the Mary Kay Letourneau scandal from the 1990s. Letourneau was exposed having an affair with a 12-year-old student and was imprisoned twice; the second term for violating a plea agreement not to see the student, Vili Fualaau, in which she spent six years behind bars. Upon release, she married Fualaau. They were together for 12 years, separating in 2017. While never considering himself a victim, but was said, according to a close associate, that it "wasn't a healthy relationship from the start."
"May December" has already plenty of Oscar buzz with Portman being considered for Best Actress and Moore for Supporting Actress, Haynes as Director, and the film for a Best Picture Oscar.
But Haynes is also looking forward to his next project -- a queer drama that stars Oscar-winner Joaquin Phoenix. Haynes envisioned the film "as an NC-17 period piece set in Los Angeles in the 1930s." Speaking to IndieWire on the red carpet of the U.S. premiere of "May December" at the New York Film Festival, Haynes offered an update on the film.
"Todd Haynes is back on the festival circuit with 'May December,' his Cannes hit that stars frequent collaborator Julianne Moore as a former teacher forced to reckon with renewed interest in her scandalous relationship with a former student. Critics have praised the dark comedy as one of the funniest films of Haynes' career, with many speculating that it could be an Oscar contender."
Amid all of the hype, the "Carol" director is already thinking ahead to his next queer period romance. Haynes had previously teased that he was developing a new project with Joaquin Phoenix that he envisioned as an NC-17 period piece set in Los Angeles in the 1930s. Speaking to IndieWire on the red carpet of the U.S. premiere of "May December" at the New York Film Festival, Haynes offered an update on the film.
"It's still very much something that is forming. We have a script. I couldn't be happier with where it ended up right after we shot 'May December' and before the strike. But the whole experience was prompted by Joaquin. It was prompted by his daring, his desire to push through barriers and to really get into the uncomfortable places about this relationship. And yet it felt like a very organic process."
The untitled film, Haynes added, will be shot in Mexico once Phoenix becomes available. He explained the plot involves Phoenix's character and his lover fleeing to Mexico.
"I want to be back working with as many of the people I worked with on 'May December' as possible," he said when asked about potential production plans. "We hope to be mounting a production in Mexico. The two men run away to Mexico. It's set in 1937-38 Los Angeles, but they flee to Mexico. And I think there's a lot of intelligence that is leading us there, which would be an amazing experience. Because of the strike, projects Joaquin had been committed to have been postponed, of course. So, as always, it's about dancing around availability and schedules."