Although you won’t see her in the first promotional trailer for David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars, it appears (at least according to the film’s IMDb page) that Carrie Fisher is co-starring in the auteur’s latest film as herself (or, perhaps more accurately, as a version of herself). Whereas the rest of the star-studded cast is saddled with hilariously fake-sounding names (John Cusack is “Dr. Stafford Weiss,” with Julianne Moore set to play “Havana Segrand” and Robert Pattinson rounding things out as “Jerome Fontana”) that make everyone seem like they’ve been picked to play characters in a high-minded pornographic film, Fisher apparently gets to keep her own.
It’s a fitting choice for Cronenberg to file in a “Fisher” amongst other roles that are stuck with names like “Azita Wachtel” and “Sterl Carruth,” because at the very least it adds a touch of actual veracity to his latest feature – which is about Hollywood itself. Even in a city steeped in stage names, there has to be at least one “Carrie” to normalize things a bit (and this Carrie is a real one!), though Maps to the Stars looks as if it’s gloriously unbound to the normal.
Perhaps we should be blaming screenwriter Bruce Wagner for the rash of fake names in the film – though the scribe has written plenty of films without weird character names (his A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 was populated by a “Nancy,” “Kristen,” and “Will,” and the strangest his Women in Film got was naming a kid “Samson”), he’s ventured into strange territory before. Wild Palms, a 1993 miniseries he wrote, featured characters named “Tabba Schwartzkopf,” “Tully Woiwode,” and “Chap Starfall,” and that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Wagner also wrote a 1995 TV movie titled White Dwarf, one that was conveniently future-set (perfect for wacky names!), and included roles with names like “Driscoll Rampart,” “Guv’ner Twist,” and “King Joist.” The man has a knack.
Yet the wacky weirdness of the character names in Maps to the Stars (seriously, “Sterl” is short for “Sterling,” right? and that’s odd enough on its own) is just one segment of what looks like Cronenberg’s next great twisted thriller. Wasikowska stars as Agatha Weiss – normal, at least in the name – a literally scarred young lady who returns to Los Angeles after a spell away and goes after landing a job working for Moore’s Havana, who appears to be a starlet of some kind. But it might not be ambition that drives Agatha to seek out the new position, it may be a special kind of convergence.
Here, take a look at the film’s first trailer, and try to forget all those odd character names we’ve filled your head with (they don’t make an appearance in this first look):
See? Those names sure sound normal now, don’t they?
Maps to the Stars will open sometime in 2014.