"Maps to the Stars" is a nauseating ride through the conniving, narcissistic and (literally) incestuous world of modern day Hollywood -- at least as imagined by writer Bruce Wagner and brought to life by director David Cronenberg. Julianne Moore, John Cusack, Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska and even Carrie Fisher show up in the film, which functions like a horrific version of Robert Altman's "The Player." HuffPost Entertainment caught up with Cronenberg to talk about why he (as well as Wagner) doesn't consider the polarizing film a satire, and why there's so much incest in the film. Here's what you need to know about "Maps," courtesy of Cronenberg:
The film represents Wagner’s perspective on Hollywood, not Cronenberg's.
"I’m a Canadian and I’ve always lived in Toronto. Bruce was sort of raised in L.A. and has been involved with the movie business. Obviously his experience of Hollywood and mine are different. For me, it was like most people. I thought it was a place these great movies came from, like Walt Disney to Errol Flynn. But on the other hand, since my first trip to L.A. in the early ‘70s, I have had all kinds of meetings with studios executives, enough to confirm that what Bruce writes about is accurate."
But he doesn't hate Hollywood.
"In the French newspaper, I think it was Le Monde, they had a headline over my interview that said, 'Je ne déteste pas Hollywood' -- 'I don’t hate Hollywood.' The French critics were assuming that all these years there was this festering anger in me about Hollywood, how they imagined I might have been treated. So I said, 'Not true.' I have great affections for Hollywood and Hollywood’s past."
While very dark, the humor in "Maps" is essential for Cronenberg.
"Of course, the movie is funny on certain level, there’s no question. I’ve often been asked, 'Will you ever make a comedy?' and my response is, 'I think I’ve made nothing but.' Inasmuch as I couldn’t live my life without humor. I couldn’t be on the film set without humor, and I couldn’t really make a movie without humor. I think it’s so innately a part of the human condition. The way that we deal with absurdity and ridiculous things in life, you have to have humor. I don’t think the fact that ['Maps'] is funny means that it’s not accurate. People laughing at [certain scene in the film], that’s a perfectly appropriate response. I would laugh myself."
But "Maps" is not a satire.
"What Bruce writes about is accurate. What he writes is not really satire, it’s more like a documentary, really. I get kind of pedantic when I think of what the word satire means. It has a very specific meaning. I think these days people think satire is funny and nasty, but it’s really more than that. You think of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels or A Modest Proposal. These were real satires and they involve all kinds of extreme exaggeration and often fantastic things that are there to show the hypocrisy or the cruelty of some regime or government. For me, therefore, I don’t see 'Maps' as a satire at all in that technical sense of the word. It’s really pretty accurate. If it’s accurate just on a human level or a conceptual level, then it’s not really satire."
While seemingly hyperbolic, the film's many over-the-top, violent moments are true to Hollywood history.
"Kenneth Anger’s book Hollywood Babylon is full of true life stories of people laying bleeding having been bludgeoned by their lovers, their producers, their studio heads. Hollywood Babylon is one example, but there are endless incidents of spectacular murders and what you would call over-the-top stuff that’s happened in the history of Hollywood. It’s extreme, but it’s real."
There's a lot of incest in the film, which relates to Greek tragedy and the nature of Hollywood itself.
"In a way, we think of Hollywood as royalty, and when you think of the Egyptian dynasties, incest was considered a positive thing. Because you were so royal, because your blood was so special, to mate with someone who wasn’t part of that was considered demeaning. I think there’s a suggestion of that in what Bruce has constructed. It’s maybe a reflection of the greater kind of incestuousness of Hollywood in which people know each other, interact with each other, steal from each other, imitate each other; kind of an incestuousness which is not in fact healthy just as genetically we know incest is not healthy. Perhaps that is one of Bruce’s comments on the insularity of Hollywood, how it needs fresh blood and it doesn’t get enough, so you end up with movies that are boring or familiar or remakes. I think that’s really what it’s about."
"Maps to the Stars" opens on Feb. 27.