Andrea Riseborough and Christopher Abbott are not on screen together much in Brandon Cronenberg’s sci-fi thriller “Possessor,” but they each had to adopt the other’s mannerisms and act as if they were one person.
In “Possessor,” Riseborough plays a world-class killer who uses an advanced brain implant technology to take over the mind of an unsuspecting host played by Abbott and commit the perfect crime. So, in a way, Riseborough and Abbott are each playing themselves and their co-star.
“She’s malleable and stealthy and spends her life really shape-shifting, occupying the psyche of people one after another in order to commit these crimes,” Riseborough told TheWrap’s Brian Welk at Sundance. “She is a person not really tethered to her own identity any longer when you come to meet her at the beginning of the film.”
Riseborough’s character starts off the film spying on Abbott’s, repeating back his words so that she can nail the inflections of his voice and his mannerisms once she takes control of his mind. But when the movie shifts to Abbott’s perspective, he had to be careful to act as though he was being possessed by Riseborough and specifically how she would do it.
“There’s a lot of conversations that we had together, a lot of talking about it, a lot of fun actor-y stuff of, little gestures that we can mimic, or I would ask Andrea, ‘How did you do this?’ Fun, little weird exercises like this that slowly but surely evolved into a strange duality.”
“And the really interesting and complex thing is that not just that she’s then occupying this character Colin, who Chris plays, but somebody is occupying this character Colin who really has no sense of self and really has so many identities and has occupied the brain of perhaps, I don’t know how many people, 100 or more,” Riseborough added.
Cronenberg, who is the son of filmmaker David Cronenberg, explains that the sci-fi trappings of “Possessor” are really just a metaphor for how people can feel as though they’re losing control over their own lives.
“It’s a movie that’s sort of designed to leave some space for discussion,” Cronenberg said. “But the sci-fi elements are essentially a metaphor for in some ways the way we construct our identities and maintain them and how acting and building character and narrative are fundamental to how we operate as people.”
Check out the interview with the team from “Possessor” above.
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