“I’m always pregnant!” Sarah Gadon says, laughing. “Men want to impregnate me.” The 25-year-old Toronto-born actor has just wrapped An Enemy, director Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming thriller, saying goodbye to the cast and crew with gifts of homemade jam. In the film, she plays Jake Gyllenhaal’s pregnant wife, something of a signature for her after breaking out as the expectant spouse of Michael Fassbender’s Carl Jung in David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method.
Gadon is a more sinister vessel in this fall’s Antiviral, the debut feature from Cronenberg’s son, 32-year-old director Brandon Cronenberg. The role is fascinatingly meta: Just as Gadon’s own fame is growing, she is playing Hannah Geist, a feverishly adored actor in a world of such extreme celebrity obsession that her viruses are caught and sold to her ultimate fans. “Celebrities are just a group hallucination,” she says, quoting directly from the film. “I think that’s such a poignant way to understand how we socialize the experience of [fame].”
Gadon herself isn’t seeking such a white-hot spotlight; in fact, it’s why she initially rejected the part. “I don’t want to just be this fetishized image of a woman for you,” she told Brandon. He encouraged her to develop the character. “Then you are partaking in creating this image as opposed to it just being projected onto you,” he said. “That’s what the film is about.”
Ironically, it was easier for Gadon to shape Geist’s celebrity image than it is her own. “The more that you want to be vocal about collaborating in the creation of your image, the more people tend to be resistant,” she says. The red carpet is one arena where Gadon projects her point of view. For Antiviral’s Toronto International Film Festival premiere, she wants to channel the screen-siren glamour of Geist. For the Cannes premiere of Cosmopolis, she went with a classic black and midnight blue print dress by Jason Wu. “Cosmopolis is such an anti-capitalist film that I didn’t want to wear a big puffy gown,” she says.
Following premieres at Cannes and TIFF, what’s next? “I’m balloting to get into a screen-writing course,” she admits, one of four credits she needs to complete her degree at the University of Toronto. Clearly Gadon is one actor who is looking to play the fame game only in the movies.
Watch Now: Antiviral opens October 12, 2012.