Nicolas Winding Refn‘s (Drive, Only God Forgives) upcoming horror-thriller The Neon Demon has officially cast its lead male character, according to Deadline. Alessandro Nivola (A Most Violent Year, American Hustle) will play a “fashion impresario” who becomes transfixed on an aspiring young model, using her as his muse.
The aspiring young model in question will be played by Elle Fanning (Maleficent), and is consequently the main focus of the story. When the fresh and beautiful Jesse (Fanning) moves to Los Angeles to pursue a career in modeling, she soon discovers what a ruthless and bloodthirsty arena into which she’s stumbled.
With the IMDb tag assuring that “her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women,” one can easily imagine the roles given to seasoned actors Christina Hendricks (Drive, TV’s Mad Men), Jena Malone (Suckerpunch), and Bella Heathcote (Dark Shadows, the upcoming Pride and Prejudice and Zombies). Keanu Reeves (John Wick) is also starring in the movie, although Refn is not divulging any details of these secondary roles.
Nivola seems to have been cast just in time, with principal photography on The Neon Demon kicking off on March 30th. He reunites with fellow actors Fanning and Hendricks; the trio was last seen together in Sally Potter’s Ginger and Rosa (2012).
Refn released this ominous (yet playful) statement on the first day of shooting:
I very much look forward to the odyssey I’ll be taking with all these wonderful actresses (and a few guys) to travel beyond ‘The Neon Demon’ where all I see is the wicked dying young.
Refn’s wife, Liv Corfixen, gave some detail into her husband’s inspiration behind The Neon Demon, telling Dazed that a major influence was historical figure Countess Elizabeth Báthory – a wicked 16th century character who allegedly bathed in the blood of young virgins in order to absorb their beauty and youth. In the same interview, Corfixen said that Refn also studied the 1993 survival drama Alive, as well as the dark comedy Drop Dead Gorgeous, implying that The Neon Demon would fall somewhere between the two.
The Neon Demon will make its debut sometime in 2016.