At the start of “The Menu”, Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult talk about their co-star Ralph Fiennes and their own culinary preferences.
The star-studded black comedy “The Menu” will be released in German cinemas on November 17th. The stars Anya Taylor-Joy (26) and Nicholas Hoult (32) play in the film by director Mark Mylod (57) a couple who take part in an exclusive dinner for 1250 US dollars per person. But star chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes, 59) has prepared a very special menu for his well-to-do clientele in his world-famous restaurant on a deserted island. It quickly becomes clear that when the doors at the Hawthorne restaurant close, it is not planned that any of the dinner guests will ever leave the establishment alive again.
In an interview with the news agency spot on news, the two main actors report funny moments during the shooting, the aura of their fellow actors Ralph Fiennes as well as their own culinary preferences.
At the beginning of “The Menu” your two characters are a couple, but at the same time they are fundamentally different, like day and night. Would that work in real life too?
Nicholas Hoult: I don’t think Margot and Tyler have much in common. Their sense of the world and their ideologies are incompatible. In life, though, it’s okay to have conflicting interests. That can complement each other very well.
Anya Taylor Joy: It can work. Whatever makes you happy.
The tone of “The Menu” varies greatly – from satire to absurd comedy to survival thriller. What was your first reaction to the script?
Taylor-Joy: What I liked about the script was that it surprised me at every turn. I watched every scene and asked myself: What is happening here? It’s absurd. It’s absolutely insane. I was really drawn to the idea of telling such an original story.
Hoult: I liked reading the film’s framing as a meal that unfolds over the course of an evening. I thought this is a great way to tell a story. Also, I laughed a lot when I first read the script. But when I was shooting I was pretty shocked by some scenes, because some moments in the film are really brutal.
Ms. Taylor-Joy, you play a rebellious character. How does Margot tick?
Taylor-Joy: Margot is not easily influenced. She doesn’t really care what other people think of her. She is very comfortable in her own skin and makes no apologies for who she is. She doesn’t have to prove herself to anyone. In such a boastful, pretentious setting, she naturally offends with her manner…
Your character, Mr. Hoult, is a “foodie” before the Lord – and borders on a parody. What excites you about such roles and such types?
Taylor-Joy: He’s brilliant. He made me laugh with every single shot. It was very difficult to stay serious. You are very good.
Hoult: I only play Foodies anymore. This is my new goal. So I can eat for free (laughs). Tyler is someone who desperately wants to be accepted. He is isolated and alone, and privileged at that. Margot knows who she is. Tyler is the complete opposite.
Do you two enjoy this type of molecular gastronomy, or would you rather eat something more down-to-earth like a hamburger or, say, a cheeseburger?
Hoult: A hamburger.
Taylor-Joy: I think we’re both more into fast food. “The Menu” is about hubris and presumption for the sake of presumption. But what do you do then? It’s all just glitz instead of something with real substance. You don’t want to go through an expensive meal and then have to grab a hamburger because you’re still hungry.
Hoult: I do enjoy the creativity of steadfast perfectionists, though. It was amazing to witness these types of people.
Celebrity chef Dominique Crenn was present at the shoot?
Hoult: Yes, she acted as a “food consultant” and designed the menu.
Taylor-Joy: She coached the actors who play the kitchen staff. That definitely made the film more authentic.
Its director Mark Mylod has come out as a big fan of the late director legend Robert Altman. As with Altman, there was a lot of improvisation on the set. Were there moments that surprised you?
Hoult: He wanted it to feel like “Gosford Park”. Even if we’re sitting at the table in the foreground and speaking the lines of dialogue from the script, someone should still be talking in the background – like at a dinner party. Of course, with 10 to 12 hour days of shooting, at some point it becomes very difficult to always stay in character and improvise. But it’s fun to think things up spontaneously. When Cut was called, it was also funny to see what of the improvised material actually fits the character – and what you were more like yourself.
Taylor Joy: Absolutely.
What was it like being in front of the camera with Ralph Fiennes? Can he intimidate you on set too?
Taylor-Joy: I wasn’t intimidated in a negative way. I really love passionate people who have a certain aura about them. That makes me feel good. Ralph is a very generous performer. Whatever I did, he was there to catch and support. To be honest, I just really enjoyed watching him.
Hoult: I really enjoyed watching him. It was like sitting in the front row at the theater. Also, I want my character to feel intimidated by him. So I was allowed to be intimidated by him. That played into my hands.
Do the two ever worry that someone might be as disappointed in their films as Chef Slowik is in The Menu from the Hollywood star’s fictional film?
Hoult: Yes, of course. Each of my projects is important to me. I want them to be good and I want people to enjoy the films afterwards.
Taylor Joy: Yes, absolutely. You spend a significant part of your life on a project. Then, of course, you hope that people will enjoy it or get something out of it or get something to think about.
Hoult: Yes, I’m asking them to put their time and money into it.
Taylor Joy: Exactly. Strangely enough, actually shooting the film is one of my favorite things about my job. I had a blast making this film with everyone involved and it’s an experience I will always cherish. So on the one hand there is the experience of making the film and then there is the reaction to the film. Of course you hope it turns out well, but if you’ve had a great time filming and learned something yourself, it’s still a treasured experience to carry with you.