Forget everything you’ve ever read about Xavier Dolan. Because while he is certainly egotistical, outspoken and a touch hyperactive, these things aren’t flaws in his case: they’re assets. His hyperactivity is enthralling, his outspokenness is invigorating, and his egoism, somehow, essential to who he is and the films he makes.
Besides, all great directors are inevitably egoists at heart. It’s just that some of them hide it better than others. And make no mistake: Xavier Dolan is a great director, whether you like his work or not.
True, there are many who don’t like it. But there are infinitely more who do, not that you’d believe it talking to the man himself. Wracked with the apparently contradictory blend of confidence and insecurity which seems to beset so many successful artists, halfway through our conversation he asked that most telling of questions: “Do you hate me?”
Why would he assume that? “I’m just worried that people will eternally think that I’m a pretentious piece of shit,” he explains. “That’s what people always say about me: that I’m this narcissistic little bastard.” If there’s a knowing meta-narcissism to this statement, it’s probably not lost on the Canadian wunderkind: since his breakout 2009 picture, I Killed My Mother, an incandescent shot of adolescent angst that made him a festival darling at just 20 years-old, Dolan has seemed painfully aware of exactly how he’s perceived.
“I started this career at 19 years-old: of course I’ve talked a lot of shit in my life,” he quips. “I’ve made these films over the last 10 years, starting…at an age where I remember throwing my printer out of the window and changing hairdos 17 times a year. While most people lived their lives and went to school and learned normally how to enter adulthood, I became a director; and tried to become a director sitting at a table where other directors wouldn’t even look at me or talk to me because they thought I was a fraud or an imposter. Those were the years of my twenties. So, clearly I have lived another life in those ten years. Maybe not the life any young man is supposed to be living.”
Like this? Read the interview in full in the brand new issue of Man About Town; available to buy here.