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Darren Aronofsky on The Fountain

Published November 20, 2006 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Images property of Warner Bros.
The Fountain Poster The Fountain
The man who made math a religious experience and gave audiences a bad trip without ever shooting up is back with a new statement. Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain takes place in three time periods, analyzing the search for eternal life and denial of death.

Interview: Darren Aronofsky Talks The Fountain


“I think all of my projects have been really challenging,” said Aronofsky. “No one really wanted to make a black and white movie about God and math. And then, after Pi, everyone was like, “What do you want to do? What do you want to do next?,” and I sent them a copy of Requiem for a Dream, and there was just silence, and barely anyone called me back. For some reason, we just chose films that we think are interesting and cool, and they’re just a little bit outside the box, so it’s always a big challenge.”

It’s essentially a two-hander between Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz in each time period. It’s a Spanish conquistador and his queen, a doctor and his dying wife, and a space guru with his spiritual vision. They each petitioned Aronofsky for their roles, and have since become valuable Hollywood assets.

“The thing about Hugh and Rachel was that they were both extremely hungry actors, at the time. Now, they’re big time movie stars. Now, I don’t know about working with them. They’re stage actors and they’re incredibly well trained, and they both hadn’t had the opportunity to really show what they could do. That, to me, is the most exciting. Ellen Burstyn has done great stuff, but it had been a long time. Jennifer Connelly and Marlon Wayans had a reason to show up.”



The Fountain gives Jackman his most emotional role ever filmed, but required some physical efforts too. “I met Hugh randomly at a bar, or something, with some of his friends. We just said hello. And then, we were staying at the same hotel and I was sitting there doing my 20-pound curls, and this guy is moving a machine across the room. He was pulling this thing and the machine was jumping, and I was like, ‘What the hell? Who is that freak?’ And, it was Hugh Jackman, training for X-Men 2, and I went over and said, ‘Hey, how are you doin’?’ Then, Hugh went from that type of size to, in 12 months, being able to get into full Lotus position. I’ve been doing yoga for seven or eight years and I can’t get into Lotus position. But, he got into full Lotus and performed all those scenes, where he’s in Lotus, underwater to make himself float, attached to a barbecue rig, so that when he flips over and goes upside down, the rig basically spun him around, held him upside down for 10 seconds, and then brought him back up, where he would land, for that big revealing shot of the bubble. That was one of the shots he did underwater, and in character. Physically, you won’t find a specimen on the planet like him. This is the type of guy that could have been an Olympic gold medal athlete in so many different sports. So, that was amazing We had a stunt double, and I know it’s kind of cliche that he did all of his stunts, but he was better than the stunt double, in everything. So, that’s him climbing the tree, doing the fights, everything.”

Emotionally, Jackman was so available that it exhausted the filmmaker. “The traditional way to shoot a scene is to start off wide because it establishes the lighting, and then you go in for close-ups. We got the camera and, suddenly, these faucets started to open and we were like, ‘Okay, cut! Get the camera in as quick as you can!’ We flew the camera in and we just went, and he would go until he was dry. And then, we would take a 10-minute break and we would go again until he was dry. It was a bit abusive, but he loved it. We enjoyed it. That was why the editing took so long. He and Rachel, both, played every scene on every note imaginable. Usually, the actor will give you just one kind of take on it, but then I was like, ‘You know what? Play it as Tomas [the conquistador], play it as Tom [in the future], play it sad, play it angry, play it a little angrier, play it really happy.’ We just bounced around and tried different things, and it was a joy.”

The Fountain opens to theatres this Wednesday, November 22nd.

For trailers, stills, early reviews and additional info, go to The Fountain Movie Page.

Stay tuned for updates.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Images property of Warner Bros.
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