Gunpowder & Sky releases Lords of Chaos in select theaters on February 8th, 2019.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What do you think is so appealing about dark characters and dark themes in films? These aren't the kind of characters who you'd want to meet at a party.
Emory Cohen: That's why you don't have to meet them at a party; you can just go to the movies and experience them without actually having to say to them, "Hey!" I think that that's actually what it is. Like, why do we like prison films? It's about the imagination. Every human being has light in their imagination and darkness.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Travis Bickle is a classic example, I think, of a dark character who became iconic. What do you think?
EC:Travis Bickle is dark, but he's also sort of a hero in the end. He saves Jodi Foster's character and sacrifices himself for it.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Is it easier to play characters who are indecent?
RC: It depends on the type of person that the actor is and how accessible certain feelings are. There are certain actors I look at and I go like, "That guy can lose his temper!" I can tell because he's great at losing his temper on camera.
EC: It can be. You have to find an actor who can play both sides to it. Playing an indecent character, you have to find a side to them that's indecent or scared or something that connects to them.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Crime novelist Henning Mankell once observed that the darker a crime is, the more it reveals about humanity. Do you agree with that?
Jonas Åkerlund: It doesn't seem to work on this specific story. Maybe for others, but I don't know. For me, I've always been in conflict with what these boys did and where they came from. They didn't have a reason for it. We've seen this story many times before in the favelas of Brazil, but we know why and understand why they grew up that way or we've seen it somewhere else where there are drugs or abuse involved. The boys in this story didn't have that excuse, so I don't know where that came from. That was the biggest challenge for me to figure out. That's what the movie's really about. I don't think that it's about dark characters; I think it's trying to figure out how we could go so wrong.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Which is more challenging for you: to get into your character's head or out of it?
Rory Culkin: For me, getting out of it.
JA: He's still not out of it.
RC: I was really worried about that because I put a lot of time and effort into it and I really got to know and like him a lot. I was very worried about letting him go and I still miss him.
EC: I think that getting out of it is harder because then you have yourself to deal with. Getting into it, you have to expand yourself into this person who's not you--whether it's fictional or not. Getting out is always harder. It's just a simple thing about going to work knowing that you're going to do a scene and then you go home and it's just you with nothing to do. I like me and that's not fun.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Who do you think is ultimately responsible for opening the window into a character's heart, mind and soul?
EC: The actor who has to play the part. The writer develops the character and the director can frame the character unless the writer and the director are acting in it. The actor has to go out there and make people believe or not believe that person---and feel for or hate or whatever the human being. RC: Perhaps the director opens the window and we jump out of it.
JA: Before I get to that, there's a series of other things that get me to that point.
NYC MOVIE GURU: As an actor, how does it feel to bear your soul in front of the camera?
RC: Gratifying, hopefully. You never really know until it's out there, but you can put a lot into it and try to reach some kind of flow state and just hope that it translates.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Which do you think is more powerful: emotional grit or physical grit, i.e. violence?
JA: I don't think that it's one or the other. I think that they both wouldn't work without the other. To me, this movie---and, believe me, I had to fight for it to get it to where we are now starting in the script and especially in the editing room--has sharp ups and sharp downs. If you shave that off, then it becomes flat and you don't have anything. I felt like I needed to take them as sharp as I could in every direction.
NYC MOVIE GURU: If Euronymous has to do everything all over again, do you think he would he do anything differently?
KC: Everything he did eventually led to a movie being made about him and he has all of this music. These guys are always immortalized. I don't know what he would do different.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What do you think are the basic elements that turn a film into a cult classic?
EC: I find that they have a unique space and time. The time that they come out in is perfect for something whether it links into something that people are into musically and stuff like that.
RC: Cult classics are measured by time, so I don't think we'd know until 10 years from now.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Do you think black metal is an acquired taste?
JA: I think that it would take a while [to like it]. It's like opera. You have to listen to it and eventually it gets to you. The first time you hear opera, you listen to it and it's very loud, but then after a while you get into it.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Is there an unfair stigma for anger? Is there such a thing as healthy anger?
RC: Yes, these guys just funneled it in the wrong direction.
JA: I don't know. Maybe he had a reason to be angry, but I don't know.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Do you think that pure evil exists?
RC: I don't know.
EC: I think there have been some pretty evil people throughout time.
RC: But it's very easy to just write it off as evil, right? That's nature versus nature that was nurtured. This person went through these circumstances that led to them making these horrible decisions that hurt people, so is that evil? Deep stuff, man!
NYC MOVIE GURU: Babies aren't born evil, after all.
EC: Maybe, like you say, babies aren't born evil, but I think that there are people who certainly earn the right to be called evil.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Do you think we live in more world of structure or in a world of chaos?
RC: It's a world of structure; if it were a world of chaos, we'd have a film called Lords of Structure. There's a reason why they stood out.
JA: I do have some pretty organized chaos sometimes!
NYC MOVIE GURU: Would Lords of Chaos work in black-and-white?
JA: I don't think it work in black-and-white because a lot of the film is drawn from the real pictures that they had and I picked up a lot of that for the look and tone of the film. I cannot see it in black-and-white, but there are black-and-white elements in that.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Which film do you think would pair well with Lords of Chaos like wine and cheese?
RC: Amadeus----stories of envy and stuff like that. Someone compared it to Goodfellas because all of the characters are pretty bad people who are hard to get along with.
JA: I'd just put it next to Dumb and Dumber.
EC: This is Spinal Tap.