Todd Haynes Says His Gay Romance Starring Joaquin Phoenix ‘Will Be an NC-17 Film’

Joaquin Phoenix’s apparent mission to work with all the best contemporary independent filmmakers is about to continue. Following his highly acclaimed Ari Aster collaboration “Beau Is Afraid,” the Oscar winner is teaming up with Todd Haynes on a new original love story.

Speaking to IndieWire’s Eric Kohn during a conversation at the American Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival, Haynes teased that he is plotting a variety of upcoming projects in the film and television spaces. Notably, the auteur revealed that he and Phoenix co-developed a period gay romance with frequent Kelly Reichardt collaborator Jonathan Raymond that Haynes plans to shoot as his next film.

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“All I can do is just keep hunkering down and committing to each project,” Haynes said when asked about the differences between working in film and television. “I have more features planned. I have also episodic projects coming that are planned, that are really exciting. I’m going back to work with Kate Winslet with something she brought me for HBO. The next film is a feature that’s an original script that I developed with Joaquin Phoenix based on some thoughts and ideas he brought to me. We basically wrote with him as a story writer. Me and Jon Raymond and Joaquin share the story credit. And we hope to be shooting it beginning early next year. It’s a gay love story set in 1930s LA.”

Phoenix has a reputation as an artist who embraces extremes, and Haynes said that their collaboration won’t shy away from portraying adult subject matter.

“Joaquin was pushing me further and going ‘no, let’s go further,'” he said. “This will be an NC-17 film.”

The project will certainly be welcome news to admirers of Haynes’ distinct brand of queer period cinema after films like “Carol,” “Poison,” and “Velvet Goldmine.” But while they wait for cameras to roll on that film, the directors’ fans can look forward to his Cannes hit “May December.” The film stars Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman as a formerly scandalized teacher and the actress who connects with her as she prepares to play her in an independent film. Critics have praised the project for combining many of Haynes’ signature motifs with a campy sense of humor.

“A heartbreakingly sincere piece of high camp that teases real human drama from the stuff of tabloid sensationalism,” IndieWire’s David Ehrlich wrote in his Cannes review. “Todd Haynes’ delicious ‘May December’ continues the director’s tradition of making films that rely upon the self-awareness that seems to elude their characters — especially the ones played by Julianne Moore.”

Reporting by Eric Kohn.

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