Jude Law on Tackling School Shootings in 'Vox Lux': "If Not Now, When?"

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Raffey Cassidy, Jude Law and Natalie Portman

The film, starring Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Raffey Cassidy and Stacy Martin, tells the story of a pop star who survived a mass shooting as a young girl and is still dealing with the aftermath.

In recent years, as mass shootings have become more and more common in the United States, there has been national debate over when the right time is to discuss gun control and preventative action. According to the cast and crew of Vox Lux, the time is now. 

The film, starring Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Raffey Cassidy and Stacy Martin, tells the story of a pop star (Portman) who survived a school shooting as a young girl and is still dealing with the aftermath.

At the Los Angeles premiere on Wednesday, held at the ArcLight Hollywood, Law spoke about why this story is one that needs telling today. "I think a few people have said 'Oh, is it too soon to make a film that starts and the protagonist of which is a shooting?' Well unfortunately, if not now, when?" the star told The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet. "The truth is there's a shooting — certainly in this country — almost every month and what they often say, and look, I hope I'm not putting words into the mouths of people who have suffered these awful experiences, but I'm pretty confident they would say not sweep it under the carpet and say now is not the time to talk about it, but rather now is the time to talk about it and now is the time to look at how these things affect us." 

Law, who plays Portman's manager over the course of her turbulent musical career, added that director Brady Corbet was able to use the setting off a mass shooting "as a jumping point to another relationship we have, another obsession we have, which is celebrity, and this world that we all seem to aspire to, which is being famous, being beautiful, being successful, without looking at the underbelly and what that costs."  

Corbet, who also wrote the film, explained that he was inspired to tell the story after living in Europe for several years and returning to the U.S. shortly before the 2016 election, as the campaigns between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were intensifying. 

"It was written in response to that and this kind of strange convergence of pop culture and politics, which is not brand new, it's happened slowly," the director said. "I mean, Reagan was an actor of course, and politicians are usually celebrities first and politicians second, but now with a reality star in the White House it's seemed to have reached some type of absurdist boiling point and everyone is trying to talk about it and react to it." 

He also explained his decision to set the film in present day, but consciously omit the Iraq War and the Obama era from the storyline.

"The thing is without 9/11, we don't have the Trump administration, because 9/11 paved the way for the sort of exploitative race-baiting and bigotry that this administration promotes and preys on," Corbet said. "That event was so cataclysmic and iconic that unfortunately it's an easy button to press on the political trail because everybody was affected by it, so of course you can provide easy solutions by eradicating anyone that doesn't believe what you believe or look the way that you look." 

The director went on to break down working with Portman, calling her "a very, very technical actor who arrives uncommonly prepared," and the challenge of creating large-scale pop performances for the film. 

Benjamin Millepied, Portman's husband, choreographed her dance numbers, which Corbet said was necessary because of the four-week window they had to craft the 13-minute musical scene. 

"I think the fact that the two of them live together really made it possible because they were practicing constantly for four weeks," he said. "It would've taken three months of preparation if they hadn't been under the same roof, so it was also very fortunate that Ben agreed to do it."