Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos is no stranger to the Toronto Film Festival: Ever since his solo debut Kinetta (2005) appeared in the 2005 Discovery programme, he’s returned regularly with ever more intriguing movies and always more eclectic casts. This year’s entry, the tense, dramatically escalating domestic drama The Killing of a Sacred Deerloosely based on the myth of Iphigenia, whose fate is best Googled after the credits roll—pairs Colin Farrell with Nicole Kidman as a couple whose lives are upended when a young stranger (an especially sinister Barry Keoghan) inveigles his way into their lives.

When he came to the Deadline studio, Lanthimos explained that the original kernel of the concept was very simple—it was “the idea of a teenager wanting to seek justice for the death of his father,” he noted. Farrell was first to get on board when the screenplay, co-scripted with the director’s usual writing partner Efthymis Filippou, was finished; the actor, who starred in Lanthimos’s last film The Lobster, recalled how he felt “perturbed, confused and ultimately moved” when he read it, just as he had been by their previous collaboration. For the wife, Lanthimos finally yielded to the stream of texts sent to him on a regular basis by Kidman, usually comprising the words “Is there a part for me?” The actress professed no regrets at all for such fan-girl behavior—which apparently continued while the director was assembling his next film, the 17th-century period drama The Favourite—adding, “I’m a huge believer in his cinematic voice.”

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