I think beauty is a very overrated concept. In particular what is overrated is the idea that beauty comes objectively. From this perspective I'm not interested in it at all. And I'm definitely not interested in style. I'm interested in form, in the shape of things. And in commitment to the degree of never letting go the quest for the meaning of things. That can come off as beauty and style, but that's not where I start from.
[if Tilda Swinton is his muse] The concept of muse is alien to me. To speak of a muse implies there is a couple in which one person is the objectified passive element - there to help the creative, active, often male part of the duo to create. A muse is very passive. Who wants a muse? I don't want a muse. Do you want a muse? Collaboration deals with the concept of understanding the other, whereas 'muse' comes with the concept of denying the existence of the other.
[on Matthias Schoenaerts] Matthias combines integrity, solidity, and a thrilling unpredictability. You never quite know what's coming next.
[why he cast Matthias Schoenaerts in A Bigger Splash (2015)] I met Matthias four years ago now [in 2012] because someone told me that there was this fantastic young Belgian actor who played in a very powerful film called Bullhead (2011), which I hadn't seen. I was in LA and I got a screener and I saw "Bullhead" and I though, 'Oh my God, this guy is really a force of nature.' He happened to be in Los Angeles, and I met him. I had this meeting with him that was really touching for me because I saw in Matthias the integrity and solidity of a man of great skill and great inheritance, because Matthias' father is one of the greatest European actors of the 70s, the great Julien Schoenaerts. But Matthias has his own identity as an actor, and has his own way of being. Then I met him again after he made Rust and Bone (2012), and we had a sort of aim to work together, so for me it was only natural that when we started to cast, I said, okay, let's get him to play this brooding character who is always accepting the heat from Harry until he cannot accept them anymore, and unconsciously goes for what he should not do - and I don't want to reveal too much. But I felt that Matthias would be perfect, and he has been perfect, and he has been a great part of the group.
[on casting Ralph Fiennes in A Bigger Splash (2015)] I'd been a big fan of Ralph for many many years, so I always dreamt of working with him. And then I saw him in the trailer of The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), and I thought, hang on a minute, this guy has always played such brooding and intense characters; I didn't know he had such levity or that he could be so garrulous. So I gave him the script and I told him that the character of Harry was id unleashed. Ralph is very intense, personally. He tests you a lot. I was under scrutiny, I know. But when he read the script he said, "There is something in this character that is very close to me. How did you know?" I said, 'Instinct. Intuition'.
I'm a bit suspicious of Xavier Dolan, for one reason: He does too many films. I do not believe in hyperactivity. I like the idea of reflection. I think Mommy (2014), for instance, is a typical post-Almodóvar female drama, shot in the clever, intelligent way of today, with an awareness of the iPhone generation. Is it a gimmick having to do with the tool? Or does the tool affect the way the images are put together? I was very upset when "Mommy" - what a title! - was awarded the Jury Prize in Cannes. It basically contradicted Jean-Luc Godard's lesson that such an orgy of images is the end of language [Goodbye to Language (2014)] and then [Dolan's film] was rewarded for being an orgy of images. (...) I guess that makes me a grumpy old man, and maybe Xavier Dolan is right...
[on The Great Beauty (2013)] It is indulging the idea we have lost something great in the past; I just don't believe that.
[on Nanni Moretti] It's so sad to see this once-youthful, anarchic director suddenly becoming what he used to accuse older directors of being: establishment.