The cheetah-print-sleeve denim jacket says it all: Evelyne Brochu’s Sara doesn’t visit a lot of farms. It’s one of the few clues we get about the mysterious bleached blonde who joins the titular character in Tom At The Farm, Quebec director—and mega-fox—Xavier Dolan’s psychological thriller about a gay man who is intimidated into an extended stay with his late partner’s delusional mother and violent brother. (If Dolan sounds familiar, it’s likely because he recently won the Jury Prize at Cannes for another of his films, Mommy.)
Brochu is a favourite of Quebec’s hot young class of directors—in addition to Dolan, she’s worked with Denis Villeneuve (Polytechnique) and Jean-Marc Vallé (Café de Flore). Genre fans know her as Delphine, girlfriend to one of the many Tatiana Maslaneys on the clone drama Orphan Black. But as Tom’s acquaintance Sara, a role she originated in the 2011 Michel Marc Bouchard play, Brochu shows a new steeliness. Reached by phone at the gym in Montreal, the Stevie Nicks lookalike took a break mid-workout to talk about Farm life.
Sara’s backstory is never explained in this film. Does the costume suggest who this woman this is? When she shows up in that green jean jacket with added animal print sleeves and that white nail polish, you know she’s had a rough life. She’s the kind of person who is like, This is me; take it or leave it.
What was it like filming on a farm? We’re human beings: we feel a lot of what we feel through our senses. Some things you don’t need to play because you actually just feel them. So actually being on the farm, smelling what it smells like, being completely out of place with those pointy stiletto cowboy boots, not being able to walk: those are things you don’t actually have to think about because the location gives it to you for free.
How did you come to work with Xavier? I have a lot of friends who were friends with him. I’m really good friends with Monia Chokri, who was in Heartbeats. And I’m friends with Francois Arnaud from I Killed My Mother. Friends of friends really.
I should have put that together because your Wikipedia says you and Francois are dating. How long have you been together? We’re not dating anymore.
Is that weird for you, that your personal life is on your Wikipedia page? I’m not super-comfortable with it. I feel the less you project of yourself the more you can be believable as a character. I also think it’s just better for your own mental health. Then you can be a human being and change your mind and nobody asks you questions about it!
The star of a show often dictates the tone of a set. What’s it like on Orphan Black? Tatiana Maslany is very, very kind and smart and a very intensely professional and driven person. I think those words can be used to describe the set. People are nice, people are extremely professional, people are extremely passionate about the show, and I think it’s a smart show.
You worked with Dallas Buyers Club’s Jean-Marc Vallé on Café de Flore. How do you think he directed two actors (Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto) to Oscars this year? For months before you start to shoot, he starts to create this past for your character. And just the way he will talk to you. He is so intimate and so precise. He just comes and whispers a few words.
I read you’ll sometimes purchase outfits you wear on screen. Yes, because I like clothing, but I don’t like the actual act of shopping. After an hour I can’t see straight and I’m dizzy and I want to go home. But the costume designers have such a good eye and pick jeans that fit you better than if you tried on 50 pairs. And it’s a way to hold onto the memories. I kept the pants from Tom at the Farm. They’re animal-print with gold blotches. But I never got around to wearing them so I gave them away.
Tom at the Farm opens in Toronto on Friday, May 30.