Aronofsky is all praise for his stars
Master director Darren Aronofsky tells us about directing superstars and how becoming a dad has changed him
It is no understatement that renowned US film-maker Darren Aronofsky is an actor's director, one who always elicits great performances from his cast.
Take a look at the 47-year-old's (below) impressive track record.
He made everyone sit up and take note of underrated thespian Ellen Burstyn (in psychological drama Requiem For A Dream), revived the career of 80s heartthrob Mickey Rourke (in sports movie The Wrestler), and gave Hollywood darling Natalie Portman her first Best Actress Oscar accolade (for psychological thriller Black Swan).
In town yesterday for a masterclass at the 27th Singapore International Film Festival, Aronofsky had nothing but praise for his stars, especially Portman, 35, who is earning rave reviews and Oscar buzz for his new film, Jackie, a biopic featuring Portman as former First Lady Jackie Kennedy.
The movie opens here on Feb 16.
Aronofsky was on board the project as a producer.
He said: "I love working with Natalie. She's very cool, honest and simple. There's not one bit of drama about her."
Humorous throughout his one-hour session with local fans and art-house aficionados, the Brooklyn native could not resist taking a dig at US President-elect Donald Trump while he was on the topic of Jackie.
"Jackie reminds us of a time when there was class in the White House," he said to laughter from the audience.
"This movie is very timely now because of everything that is going on."
When asked if there were any actors who intimidated him on the set of his movies, Aronofsky grinned and said: "When I first met Mickey Rourke (for 2008's The Wrestler), I was convinced he was going to kill me. It was only a matter of time.
"But ultimately, even though he wanted to, he didn't. He knew if he killed me, his career wouldn't have been fixed."
Aronofsky also frankly admitted that Burstyn, 83, was not his first choice for the critically acclaimed Requiem For A Dream (2000). She played Sara Goldfarb, a lonely widow who becomes addicted to drugs.
"Ellen was my fifth or sixth choice, she knows it," he said.
"Many, many great actresses turned down the role because they were terrified by it.
"It was a very difficult character to play. You had to expose yourself emotionally. Plus there was no money involved. It was a low-budget film.
"Ellen was the first one who had the courage to plunge into the movie.
"She read the script and knew I wanted to do something different."
Aronofsky, who has a 10-year-old son with his ex-wife, British actress Rachel Weisz, said that fatherhood has affected his film-making.
"Parenting is part of our human journey and going though that experience definitely humanises you more," he said.
"It also increases the type of stories you're interested in."
"When I was in my early 20s, I couldn't understand why there were so many movies that use the idea of children in jeopardy.
"To me, those movies were bull. I'd be, like, 'Why are people crying?' These movies are manipulative."
"Then, as soon as I became a dad, I went, 'gahhh'. I get it.
"It's an easy, cheap way of getting audiences riled up," said Aronofsky, who is said to be dating US actress Jennifer Lawrence, 26.
"So, yeah, parenting changes you."
Jackie reminds us of a time when there was class in the White House.
- US film-maker Darren Aronofsky referring to former first lady Jackie Kennedy (played by Natalie Portman, right) in a dig at US President-elect Donald Trump