TIFF 2022: Q & A with the Cast and Filmmakers of “Chevalier”

Prior to and after the premiere of Chevalier at TIFF, the cast and the filmmakers explained the production and what it was like to bring the life of Joseph Bologne to the silver screen.

Director Stephen Williams started the discussion off by thanking Searchlight Pictures. To Williams, the costuming, producers, and composers did an amazing job in bringing to life the look and sound of Joseph Bologne and France.

When asked about how much reality was in the film, writer Stephani Robinson talked about how she first learned of Bologne from a book. While there is much truth in the film, Robinson was quick to clarify that the film is not a strict bio pic. There are many moments of fact that are mixed with fiction to help the story flow. Robinson found the changes in Bologne’s life from musician to soldier, to be fascinating.

Williams talked about how facts are facts, but truth is another matter. He was motivated by the fact that Bologne was practically erased from existence thanks to Napoleon. Williams could not stop praising star Kelvin Harrison Jr. Harrison went the extra mile to help bring Bologne to life.

Harrison described the difficulty of playing this role. He threw himself into the expectations of playing the violin, where he spent hours a day for months to master the abilities of the stringed instrument so he could add authenticity to his portrayal. While Harrison’s hard work pays off on screen, he was quick to tell the audience that once production wrapped, he waved goodbye to the violin forever.

Samara Weaving was daunted by the fact that the characters were real. She described the lack of rights for women and black people during the time and commented on how it seems that we are progressing back to a loss of rights for women. She likened Marie-Josephine to a singing bird in a cage. Marie-Josephine was a gifted singer, who was trapped by social conventions.

Lucy Boynton got to portray Marie Antoinette, a character who has had many on screen incantations. While audiences have seen Marie Antoinette many times before, Boynton wanted to start from scratch and give a fresh perspective on the former queen of France.

Minnie Driver admits that she plays the bad guy, but she picks up on the bad rap that Marie Antoinette has got throughout history. Driver had less than kind words for Napoleon and reminded the audience that Napoleon reinstated slavery. Driver loved the fact that viewers get a fresh perspective on some well-known people.

Director Williams concluded by talking about the emotional impact the story has on the audience. He hopes that viewers feel a connection to the story. Williams wants audiences to understand the film and see the truth in the story.

Chevalier is an epic and not to be missed.