Yorgos Lanthimos on His Unconventional Film Training Before 'The Favourite'

Lanthimos, the Greek director known for his unique sensibility on previous films like 'The Lobster' and 'The Killing of a Sacred Deer,' also explained why breaking the rules isn't as easy as it looks during THR's Director Roundtable.

Before Yorgos Lanthimos was making knockout American hits like his recent foray The Favourite, which was his most expensive film to date, he was one of Greece’s only burgeoning talents.

Since Greece’s film industry was fairly nonexistent at the time, Lanthimos relied on the publication American Cinematographer for technical knowledge, which he applied on the set of his early commercials. “I experimented a lot and learned a lot technically,” he explains.

Lanthimos also honed his skills directing theatre actors in Greece. It was there that he learned how to approach actors and get the best performance out of them. “Find indirect ways of showing them what we’re trying to achieve, instead of trying to intellectualize it and analyze it,” he advises. “If we could exchange two words only and then be in sync, that would be ideal. I try to not speak to them a lot and let them do their thing.”

Despite his flair for experimentation, Lanthimos admits that being a rebel isn’t easy. He found the transition from working on his smaller-budget Greek films to his big-budget English language films particularly difficult. "What I find challenging ever since I started making English language films, is that although of course I do have more means than when I used to make films in Greece, at the same time, they come with a lot more rules and restrictions." He continues, “I’m always struggling to find the way of doing things in a different way.”