The Menu Director Mark Mylod on Film, Ralph Fiennes Character – The Hollywood Reporter

To director Mark Mylod of Searchlight Pictures The biggest challenge was setting the tone for the darkly comic thriller, in which a group of diners travel to a remote island to eat at Hawthorne, an exclusive restaurant run by Ralph Fiennes’ celebrity chef Julian Slovic – which comes with some dining experience. Unexpected surprises (not the gastronomical variety).

“Trying to get the tone right … was really about me and the cast talking a lot, and then being able to shoot the movie almost chronologically was a huge advantage,” says Mailod of the film, which is primarily a class satire set in monologue. Hawthorne dining room setting. “Everybody’s on set all the time, and you never know when a camera is on you… It’s a way of working that the cast really responded to, and I thought it gave us an immediacy and spontaneity to life and passion. These characters, particularly when they first come into the restaurant — are a part of the culinary universe. The characters at the center feel incredibly qualified.

As such, it was important to Mylode to accurately depict the culinary world “to the point of complete obsession”. To do that, production designer Ethan Tobman sprinkled in Easter eggs and nods to some of the film’s greatest chefs and great kitchens. Additionally, Mylode sent the script to Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in the US to receive three Michelin stars for San Francisco’s Atelier Crenn. (For more on Crenn and the fine-dining dishes she creates, which will be served on screen, see page 19.)

“The time she spent with Ralph in preproduction instilled him with enormous inner confidence,” says Mylod, who adds that casting Anya Taylor-Joy opposite Fiennes at an unimpressed diner made for terrific chemistry. “The unique and wonderful thing about Ralph is that he can bring all the diseases and is hilariously funny,” Mylode explains. “With Anya, I, along with the rest of the world, was mesmerized by her performance during the lockdown. The Queen’s Gambit, the way she carried it with such sensitivity and brilliance. So I sent her the script and she loved it! I needed that character to stand toe to toe with Ralph. That discussion, that chess match between the characters was the nucleus of the film for me.

Mailod, who replaced Alexander Payne as feature director, was initially drawn to Seth Reese and Will Tracy’s script because he knew it would be challenging to find “the right balance between humor, tension and satirical insights”. After speaking with Fiennes, it was clear that the two were on the same page.

“We both specifically wanted to avoid this idea of ​​any kind of moustache-twirling baddies,” Mylod says. “Instead, we really wanted to explore an artist in pain consumed by self-loathing.”

This story first appeared in the Nov. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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