Director Denis Villeneuve feels lucky.
Not only has his film Arrival brought him to the Oscars for the second time, but he’s currently hard at work on the sequel to Blade Runner.
It’s the kind of sci-fi epic Villeneuve could only have dreamt of growing up in the small Quebec town of Gentilly on the St. Lawrence River. As a boy, he would lose himself in science fiction: the bold illustrations of European comic artists Jean Giraud and Philippe Druillet or films such as Stanley Kubrick’s space epic 2001.
“I always loved storytelling, and as a child that was my favourite part of my existence — that bubble when I was reading,” he told CBC News this month in Los Angeles.
Villeneuve considered a career in science, but he couldn’t resist the urge to tell stories. His early films Maelstrom and Polytechnique showed a director unafraid to tackle difficult subjects.
In 2010, Villeneuve shifted his focus to the Middle East to adapt Incendies, a play about a twisted family tree. It swept the Canadian film awards and was nominated for an Oscar in the best foreign language film category.
Hollywood began to take notice of the bold director. Success in Quebec had helped him establish his cinematic identity, but Villeneuve had bigger stories to tell.
“I knew that by coming here I will have the tools and resources to make some of my dreams,” he said.
Villeneuve soon displayed a knack for working with A-list actors, while pushing the audience’s buttons. Hugh Jackman explored the limits of fatherly love in the 2013 kidnapping drama Prisoners. Emily Blunt found herself…