Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre is an actress and director, known for Rabbit, Atlantic Avenue, and The Mustang. Matthias Schoenaerts is a Belgian actor, film producer, and graffiti artist. He is best known for his roles as Filip in Loft, Rust and Bone, and Red Sparrow. Schoenaerts received critical acclaim for his portrayal of an ex-soldier suffering from PTSD in Disorder.
In this interview, they talk about what the how programs like the one in The Mustang can help animals and former inmates recover mentally and what it was like to work on set with these animals.
Guys, congratulations on the film. It’s amazing. I had no idea that programs like this existed, so that’s all new to me. But criminal justice reform has been in the forefront of the news lately. How does The Mustang add to that?
Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre: I mean, if, if this film can raise awareness about those programs and expand them that would be my biggest wish. There’s a lot of wild horses in holding facilities waiting for adoption. Sometimes they would spend years and years and years without, I mean, just sometimes dying there and there’s a lot of inmates upon their release who actually relapse and is there, are there, do most of them die. And I feel that those programs inside the prison, they’re wonderful and they should also be outside of the prison. I think it’s such a natural and visceral response of repair, a man’s soul, immense sadness and pain. That, I wish that was on the justice level is maybe a way to push it more, to explore it more and to expend it.
Your character, almost his journey. Roman’s journey almost mirrors that of taming a wild horse that’s captured as well. Can you talk to me about that experience and what you tapped into that character so much of Roman?
Matthias Schoenaerts: Cool. For me it’s about, uh, the movie tells a story about the possibility of change and the possibility of transformation. That’s why I also think it’s so urgent and so actual to talk about it because it goes against, you know, a certain cynical tendency that we might run into a where people say, yeah, but some people are lost, some people cannot change. And this film tries to tell the opposite. And if this movie can contribute and if the journey of this character can contribute to that notion then I think we’re doing a good thing. And then the change is being instigated by this horse, the contact with the horse, which is a very intuitive process, a very emotional process. It’s not an intellectual process. It’s really two hearts beating and affecting each other in a very pure and straight forward way. And that has an enormous political quality to it. And I think that is also, to me, I think the strength of the movie it’s the sincerity of the exchange between these two individuals, so to speak.
It’s really beautiful actually the relationship that Roman has with Marcus’s horse. I just recently found out that Jason was actually afraid of horses.
Matthias Schoenaerts: And not only Jason also Bruce. Bruce was petrified. I was scared as an understatement. He was petrified. Like “You’re gonna get that horse away form me.”
Well I was going to ask cause they say that in Hollywood don’t make two types of films, one with kids and one with animals. And I just wanted to know some of your experiences that you guys had with a lot of these horses. Training them, scoring them.
Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre: It was definitely a challenge, but they were very disciplined, those horses in the end.
Matthias Schoenaerts: We were very lucky to have an amazing horse trainer who’s like a true master. And without him we would have been in trouble. Cause we only have five weeks to shoot the film. So that’s a limited amount of time that we had some complex sequences and thanks to him, he was just, I mean he was like a conductor. He could just like, he could have horses jump around and do parallelism and whatnot. I mean that guy had the real magic. And he helped us a lot.
Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre: He helped us a lot.
You guys, this movie is amazing. I hope everybody sees it. Amazing job. Thank you so much for your time.
More: Jason Mitchell Interview for The Mustang