Emma Stone, Willem Dafoe, Mark Ruffalo Communicate Characters

The red carpet rolled out for the newest Searchlight Pictures film, Poor Things, a black comedy fantasy film starring Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo, and Willem Dafoe. The film is directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, The Favourite), who attended the New York City premiere at the DGA Theatre. The event also saw stars like Robert Pattinson, Suki Waterhouse, Laura Dern, and the 2023 TIME magazine Person of the Year, Taylor Swift.

ComingSoon’s Jonathan Sim attended the red carpet and interviewed the stars of the film. Poor Things tells “the incredible tale and fantastical evolution of Bella Baxter (Stone), a young woman brought back to life by the brilliant and unorthodox scientist Dr. Godwin Baxter (Dafoe). Under Baxter’s protection, Bella is eager to learn. Hungry for the worldliness she is lacking, Bella runs off with Duncan Wedderburn (Ruffalo), a slick and debauched lawyer, on a whirlwind adventure across the continents. Free from the prejudices of her times, Bella grows steadfast in her purpose to stand for equality and liberation.”

When asked about the performances that inspired her portrayal of Bella Baxter, Stone said, “There were many. At the end of the day, after all of that, I think we had to kind of wash everything away and reinvent her from scratch because she’s such a brand-new creature that our attention was not to have her be derivative of these incredible performances or stories [that came] before, and so we tried to kind of invent something new and honor Bella in the way that she’s written by Alasdair Gray but also how she was written by us.”

Ruffalo, who portrays Duncan Wedderburn, explained why he wanted to take on the role and portray him with sincerity and humor. “It’s just nothing that I’ve ever done before,” said Ruffalo. “I thought I could be funny and physical and vulgar and all the thing that nobody expects me to do.”

Dafoe commented on his portrayal of Dr. Baxter and his approach to bringing him to life. “Well, the makeup is a big deal because it tells you a lot about the difficulties he’s had in life. Also, it isolates him because it’s his greatest fear. And he speaks like that. The process of putting on the makeup was quite involved, but it’s also an opportunity, you know? With a mask like that, when you look in the mirror, you don’t look like yourself [and] you don’t feel like yourself. And I also had some prosthetic pieces on my body. You move differently. That opens the door for you to pretend. That opens the door for you to leave yourself behind and become something else.”

One of the funnier aspects of the interview with Dafoe is that it ended with Stone walking up to him from behind and putting her finger in his ear, making Dafoe laugh as they shared a fun moment together on the carpet.

Composer Jerskin Fendrix also talked about working with Lanthimos on his first feature film musical score. “The way [Lanthimos] works as a director is really liberating. He gives you a great deal of trust and a great deal of independence, so basically, he told me what the film was by giving me the script and by giving me the visuals and concept art, set designs, all that kind of stuff. And that was evocative enough, to be honest. And then I went away and wrote a bunch of stuff assuming that he would make alterations to it, and then he just said, ‘Cool, that’s in the film. Can you come up with another half hour of music?’ And we kept doing that until the film was finished.”

As for what’s next for Fendrix, he says, “Let me do a Star Wars [score]. I’d be really good at it. I keep asking Disney and they won’t let me do it but I’d be so good at it. Or a Marvel [movie]. You know what I’d really love to do? I’d do a Disney musical like Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan, Hercules, that kind of style [with] music, lyrics, score—I would kill to do something like that. Let me do it! Let the barriers down!”

Poor Things is now playing in limited theaters. It will have a wide release on December 22, 2023.