Inside Director and Art Curator Discuss Willem Dafoe Thriller

By | March 14, 2023

A solitary exhibition led to a star-studded event. Focus Features held a red carpet premiere for their newest psychological thriller, Inside, at the Metrograph in New York City. This film, written by Ben Hopkins and directed by Vasilis Katsoupis, stars Willem Dafoe as Nemo, an art thief trapped inside a New York City penthouse after a heist goes wrong. As the hours turn into days and the days turn into weeks, Nemo finds himself clinging to sanity as he searches for a means of escape surrounded by dozens of priceless artworks.

The red carpet event in lower Manhattan was attended by dozens of Hollywood’s most famous stars, such as Dafoe, Bradley Cooper, and Robert Pattinson. Among the attendees was Leonardo Bigazzi, the film’s art curator, who chose which pieces to feature in the film.

“Vasilis Katsoupis, the director of the movie, had a clear vision of how the art collection should go,” said Bigazzi. “On the one hand, building the character of the collector—I mean, art collections are always an extension of the psychological aspects or passions or obsessions of the character who built it. And so this was the physical manifestation of the second character, somehow the costar of the movie. And at the same time, it became a mirror to the physical and psychological breakdown of the main character of Willem Dafoe throughout the whole film.”

Bigazzi further commented on how film and art are connected as a medium, saying, “I think the encounter of two different art forms is particularly interesting by looking at the generative possibilities that this can generate…in the sense that, for example, we commissioned several artworks for the film and these artworks will now be in the world and will sort of carry on the history of the film.”

Director Katsoupis spoke about the casting of Dafoe, stating, “I think I really wanted an actor to be very physical, acting with his body, because for most of the film, there isn’t a lot of dialogue. So the language and the voice should be by movements and how an actor can play with his body and how this body and face can tell a story just by appearance. It must be pretty hard, but Willem Dafoe, you know? I feel blessed to come and have him as a partner-in-crime.”

Katsoupis also spoke about what it was like to film the movie in one location.

“We were filming chronologically, and we were destroying the location day by day, so the challenge was not to be in a situation where we’d need to reshoot because it would be impossible. It was a set [and] we were destroying the set, so that was a big challenge. We had to be very precise and ready and know that every shot we did was correct.”

Inside releases in the United States on March 17, 2023.