The Waste Land is that dark gap between life and night, the twilight zone where man can sink, forgetting all his previous life choices, sacrificing everything he loves. The Waste Land is also an almost apocalyptic night vision of Brussels, divided between small twists and almost supernatural manifestations that most inhabitants ignore. Sleep good people, the police are watching Or not.
Waste Land is also the new feature film by the very exciting Pieter Van Hees, a film that could/should never have existed, a project that has come back from the dead, thanks to the dedication of its producers who supported it with an uncommon passion.
Everyone talks about it quite freely nowadays, so it’s no longer a secret: initially, Matthias Schoenaerts was to play Leo. The filming was scheduled for the beginning of 2012. However, the Flemish star, who was Peter Van Hees’ accomplice on Linkeroever, temporarily and then definitively gave up his engagement two weeks before the first cranking. Serious family problems prevented him from embarking on this challenging adventure.
A technical team and actors on stand-by (notably Bouli Lanners who had an important role in this version), a project developed and financed suddenly in peril, it was a very hard blow for the young company Epidemic.
Other options were then sought. A leading Flemish actor? A talented unknown? Or Jérémie Renier.
The idea seems incongruous at first, because the Brussels native is not a star in Flanders and therefore does not guarantee a media buzz on his name alone. Another disadvantage: according to Flemish standards, and even if his fee has nothing to do with the one he received on recent shoots, Jérémie Renier remains expensive compared to Flemish actors. However, the budget of the film, already tight, was reconsidered and lowered to under two million.
“It’s a small budget”, admits the young and friendly producer Eurydice Gysel. “It is still inferior to the classic Flemish productions. Considering the aesthetics of this thriller, it’s not much, but we had no choice. That said, we didn’t want to sacrifice quality to constraints and we opted for Jérémie, because the role of Leo is so complex that we needed an exceptional actor we could rely on with our eyes closed.”
And the least we can say is that Jeremiah did not disappoint those who trusted him.
“He’s amazing,” the producer enthused. “Not only is he always right, from the first take to the last, very involved in his role and in the film, but he is also adorable, at the service of the project. The other actors were discovering him, but the chemistry worked immediately. In terms of acting quality and charisma, it’s obvious that we didn’t lose out at all. The film will probably be different from what it would have been with Matthias, but I really think it will be better now.
In fact, on the shooting, we find an extraordinarily relaxed Jérémie. Focused, but courteous and joking from the end of the scene and available to all. On a set, you rarely see an actor come up to the journalists and ask: “who wants an interview?
Unquestionably, we feel happy to rub shoulders with this complex character and to discover a new universe: after a dive in Argentinean cinema, here is the Flemish cinema.
“It’s incredible”, he confirms, “but I didn’t know most of the actors I’m playing with today. And yet, we all shoot in Belgium. Sometimes we live a few kilometers from each other. This separation is totally artificial and Waste Land will show it: it is a bilingual film, a real Belgian film in phase with the social reality of Brussels. I love this friendly atmosphere and I could go back to it very quickly.”
(Cinevox – 2013)