David Cronenberg is best known for films like The Fly, The Dead Zone, Dead Ringers and A History of Violence. They can be shocking, violent, and gory – but they're also unmistakably personal films that make you think while you're squirming in your seat.
Cronenberg's new film is a straightforward historical drama. A Dangerous Method is based on the real case of Sabina Spielrein, a woman who sought treatment from Carl Jung and became his lover. The film stars Kiera Knightly, Michael Fassbender, and Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud, Jung's colleague and then his opponent. "I'm interested in scientists and doctors because they are interested in the physical and psychic stuff of human-ness, what it is to be human," Cronenberg tells Kurt Andersen.
While A Dangerous Method seems like a rather un-Cronenberg-like film, the director says he has always approached new projects with a fresh palette. "The movie will tell you what it wants and what it needs," he says. "In one movie, explicit violence would really destroy the movie, just dismantle it. In another movie, showing the violence is what the movie is about. There are no rules."
Cronenberg almost single-handedly invented Canadian horror, and still lives in Toronto. Hollywood called in the 1980s – with offers to direct Top Gun (!), Beverly Hills Cop (!!), and Flashdance (!!!) – but the director is more comfortable staying close to his indie roots. "I'm still trying to sell out," he jokes, "it's just there's nobody wanting to buy."
Bonus Track: David Cronenberg on his first Canadian horror movie, Shivers