Sigourney Weaver, Joel Edgerton Discuss Working With Paul Schrader in Venice Title ‘Master Gardener’

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Leads Sigourney Weaver, Joel Edgerton and Quintessa Swindell were thankful for the opportunity to work with revered writer-director Paul Schrader on his latest film “Master Gardener,” showing out of competition at the Venice Film Festival.

In a lively press conference on Saturday attended by the leads and Schrader, the filmmaker referred to the “lonely man in the room” archetype that he’s returned to in film after film beginning with “Taxi Driver.” “Hopefully, I’m done with him,” Schrader said.

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“I’ve always admired Paul’s work; never dreamed of working with him, because I’m not a lonely man in the room – I’m the lusty woman in the house,” Weaver said, adding that the “Master Gardener” role was one of the best she’s ever had. Weaver also thanked Schrader for writing two great parts for women in the film.

The film follows Narvel Roth (Edgerton), the conscientious horticulturist of the historic Gracewood Gardens estate, which is owned by wealthy dowager Norma Haverhill (Weaver). When she demands that he take on her troubled biracial great-niece Maya (Swindell) as an apprentice, Roth’s spartan existence turns chaotic.

“It was an honor,” Swindell said about working with Schrader, adding that it “was an absolute dream.”

Edgerton said that Schrader was behind a few of the films that shaped his decision to becoming an actor, and was quietly thanking the filmmaker in retrospect for them. “One of the things I really loved was this idea that the thing that you look at that can be so beautiful, needs to be torn apart in order to keep building, and that things need to move backwards in order to move forwards,” Edgerton said about the overarching themes of the film.

On casting Edgerton, Schrader said that he wanted “a Robert Mitchum kind of guy, a big slab of beef who you don’t want to run into in a bar,” and the actor fit the bill.

The press meet was ahead of Schrader receiving his Golden Lion for lifetime achievement. When asked which of his films best represents his oeuvre, Schrader named “Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters” (1985). “I still can’t believe I made that film,” Schrader said. “Most personal for me, and the best stylistically.”

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