NEW YORK – Matthias Schoenaerts is best known for his roles in the acclaimed French drama “Rust and Bone” alongside Marion Cotillard and in last September's thriller “The Drop” opposite Tom Hardy, but the Belgian actor has spent a good chunk of the past 18 months shooting a number of period pieces with Oscar friendly actors. The first, “A Little Chaos” with Kate Winslet, debuted at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival to not so great reviews. The second, “Suite Française” with Michele Williams, has already opened to mixed reviews in most of Europe and there currently is no U.S. release date. The third, “Far From The Madding Crowd,” which finds him romancing Carey Mulligan, has earned mostly positive notices so far and opens in limited release Friday.
Adapted from Thomas Hardy's classic novel, “Madding” centers on Bathsheba Everdene (Mulligan), a young woman who inherits a struggling family farm in the English countryside and is determined to make it turn it around on her own. Schoenaerts plays Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer who isn't as rich or noble as some of Bathsheba's other suitors, but is the obvious great catch she can't see standing right in front of her. During an interview with HitFix earlier this month, Schoenaerts discussed his impressions of working alongside Mulligan as well as his amusement over reporters constantly asking him about one particular farming scene in “Madding.” More importantly, however, Schoenaerts spoke about the fourth period film on his upcoming slate, “The Danish Girl.”
Tom Hooper's latest drama tells the true story of Lili Elbe, one of the first transgender women to publicly acknowledge receiving sexual reassignment surgery. The film has been in development for years with stars such as Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron on board to play Elbe at one point or another. Hooper's version finds Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne playing Elbe and the first photo of him in character created quite a stir when it was released a few months ago. It's still unclear what role Schoenaerts is playing in the movie, but he was quite frank when asked about his experience shooting the picture.
“We finished it like a week ago. I had a blast,” Schoenaerts says. “Working with Tom Hooper is an experience. Extremely sharp, committed, intelligent and has a sense of humor.”
Then, without prompting, Schoenaerts volunteered, “And then you have Eddie Redmayne who I'm sure he's gonna get a second Oscar nom. It's impossible. What I've seen him do. It's probably second Oscar period. Not even just a nod, period.”
He then added, “There is also Alicia Vikander who is extremely talented. So, it was a wonderful team of creative talents and I was blessed to be a part of it.”
Vikander is currently making waves in Alex Garland's hit Sci-Fi thriller “Ex Machina.”
“The Danish Girl” isn't hitting theaters until Nov. 27 and its unclear whether Hooper will have it ready for one of the four big fall film festivals. That being said, Schoenaerts' comments should only increase the anticipation for what has become one of awards seasons must-see movies.
For more from the always charming Schoenaerts and his thoughts on both “Madding” and “Danish Girl” check out the video embedded at the top of this post.
“Far From The Madding Crowd” opens in select theaters on Friday.