Lukas Dhont graduates to the main Competition today at Cannes as his new movie Close premieres. It’s the highly anticipated second feature from the Belgian helmer after his debut, Girl, premiered here in Un Certain Regard. And as Dhont readies for the festival’s biggest stage, his two young leads, newcomers Eden Dambrine and Gustav De Waele, are adjusting to their new lives as movie stars. That included a stop by Deadline’s Cannes studio, where they gave their first-ever interviews.
Dhont said that Close was based on research he read about how the intimate friendships between boys change as they age. Younger boys interviewed, he said, “all talked about their friends like they were the most important people in their lives. The people that they loved, and that they shared secrets with. The people they deeply cared for.”
When the same boys were interviewed towards the end of their teen years, “They started to act a little bit more cool when they spoke about connection, out of this fear of being seen as feminine or gay. It moved me deeply because I was this young kid that had a feeling that he didn’t really belong to the group of girls, nor the group of boys. I felt, as a child and a teenager, this loneliness. The friends that tried to get close to me, I didn’t really allow them to because I was also afraid of these labels.”
As Dambrine explained, the film follows two 13-year-olds, Leo and Remi, as they enter high school and the nature of their close friendship is questioned by the “cool kids” around them. “The friendship between Leo and Remi is one that has been there forever,” Dambrine noted. “They grew up in the same place and they go to school together, and they’re always together. When they go to high school for the first time, something happens that causes a rift between them. There’s a group of boys that Leo wants to hang out with. He wants to be with the cool kids. Unfortunately, it means Leo leaves Remi on the sidelines.”
Dhont auditioned many boys for the roles, but settled on Dambrine and De Waele when he noted how well they connected on the day of their audition. “Gustav and I didn’t know each other at all,” Dambrine said. “When I did the first casting for the role of Leo, there were 13 other boys. As soon as I saw Gustav, I realized there was something special. He wasn’t like the other boys. So, we started talking and we had a lot of fun together.”
Added De Waele: “It was also that we had done a scene together during casting in which I had to show a lot of emotion. I felt right away that it was Eden who was going to help me with that.”
See more from Lukas Dhont, Eden Dambrine and Gustav De Waele in the video above.
Aero is the official sponsor of the Deadline Studio at Cannes Film Festival. Sponsors are Soia & Kyo and Jamones Iberico from Spain: Ambassadors of Europe in the World