Creator, writer, and director Olivier Assayas has remade his 1996 film Irma Vep as a series for HBO. A newly released trailer shows Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander as Mira, an American actress who travels to France to play Irma Vep (an anagram for vampire) in a remake of Louis Feuillade’s silent film The Vampires. The series follows Mira as she becomes immersed in the character she’s portraying, blurring the lines between “artifice and authenticity,” and the difficulties that she encounters while working on the foreign film.
The series also stars Vincent Macaigne as René Vidal, the difficult to work with film director. The cast includes Jeanne Balibar as Zoe, Mira’s ex-assistant and ex-girlfriend; Devon Ross as Mira’s current assistant Regina; Carrie Brownstein as Mira’s agent Zelda; Fala Chen as Cynthia Keng, Mira’s co-star; and Tom Sturridge as Eamonn, Mira’s ex-boyfriend.
The HBO series is produced alongside A24 and executive produced by Assayas, Vikander, Sylvie Barthet, Daniel Delume, Ravi Nandan, Hallie Sekoff, Kevin Turen, Stuart Manashil, Sam Levinson and Ashley Levinson.
The series, just like its 1996 film predecessor, will premiere this week at the Cannes Film Festival before its June 6 release for HBO and HBO Max.
Olivier Assayas and his Cult Classic Film Irma Vep
Assayas’ 1996 cult classic film starred Maggie Cheung as an actress, named after herself, that takes on the role of Irma Vep for a production of The Vampires. The director was played by renowned French actor Jean-Pierre Leaud (The 400 Blows). The film, whose premise mirrors the series, received positive reviews from critics.
Besides showing Maggie’s perspective as an outsider, the original film also tells the story of René Vidal. A once-respected film director, Vidal now seems to be struggling as his last projects are not gaining the success of his previous films. For the role Irma Vep, Vidal hires Maggie, an actress from Hong Kong who does not speak French, against the advice of his colleagues.
Assayas made his feature film debut in 1986 with Disorder, which was the recipient of the Critic’s Week Prize at the Venice Biennale. His other notable works include Summer Hours, Demonlover, Clean, Paris, je t’aime, Non-Fictionand, most recently, Netflix’s Wasp Network. He has won multiple awards for his work on Paris Awakens, Summer Hours, Carlos, Something in the Airand Clouds of Sils Maria.
Irma Vep is largely considered his biggest film to date. Assayas and Cheung married in 1998 and divorced in 2001, but collaborated again in 2004 on the drama Clean.
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