Arsinée Khanjian, Interviewed at Sundance
In his feature film Calendar (1993), Egoyan used Russian
|Douglas Cooper: Generally
your words are fully scripted by Atom. But your best performance may well
have been in Calendar, where you were permitted to improvise: to use Arsinée’s
language, as opposed to Atom’s language. I suspect there’s a deeper irony
here, tied to the theme of the work… something about language and distance,
about finding yourself trapped in somebody else’s story, or alienated from
I wouldn’t necessarily think of Calendar as my best performance.
I think it’s the performance that most surprised our audience. But what
you saw in my performances before Calendar, and after Calendar: those parts
were all improvised. You can’t do anything with a script unless you improvise
around it. I think there was a lot of me everywhere, but perhaps not in
an obvious way. Calendar felt more naturalistic — even though the theme
was completely alien to my emotional state at that point — because I had
to put my own words in there. And of course I had to make it more real
to my body language, to who I am in a life where people know me personally.
You say my „best“ performance; I think perhaps it was my most involved
|Douglas Cooper: It
was your warmest performance. I don’t want to say good or bad, perhaps,
but Atom tends to bring out a specifically stylized, cold performance from
Yes! And that speaks to his fear of bringing up emotional expression
as a justifiable right. He doesn’t feel that we are entitled, it seems,
to our emotional explosions. And I think in Calendar, yes, he had no control
over that. He didn’t have time. Whatever was there was what he ended up
with. So he had to deal with that.
|Douglas Cooper: Calendar
was very much a parody of that side of himself, wasn’t it. The controlling
It was. And I think that’s why it was such a revelation for him.
I think Calendar marked a major stepping stone in his work, in that he
realized you can let those emotions happen when they’re justified, when
they’re real, and there is nothing embarrassing about them. There is no
embarrassment in making public your emotions. You don’t always have to
hide behind smarts — or wit, or darkness — in order to validate the honest
nature of emotions per se. I think that’s why it was such an important
project for him, but also for me. I always felt there was a side of me
that was not really explored in my acting work. And I did think at one
point in my life that that was never going to happen with Atom, because
he was so reticent. When Calendar happened, I realized that I can work
that way with him too. Between Next
of Kin and Calendar it was an amazing journey. I remember with Next
of Kin he was so worried about even the slightest eye expression or eyebrow
expression, about letting it go. And with Calendar he had to trust that.
It was great. It was a complete breakthrough.
|Douglas Cooper: That may well
be why Exotica — even though it was fully scripted — was significantly
warmer than anything he shot prior to Calendar.
Definitely. I don’t think Exotica would have been made with the
sensibility and texture that it has without Calendar having happened.
|Who is ’speaking‘
In the column to my left?
|No, you mean „to ‚your‘ left“.||