If you’ve already caught Edgar Wright’s music documentary The Sparks Brothers, chances are you’re hooked on the music of Ron and Russell Mael by now. Get ready, then, for Annette – the duo’s new movie musical, a wild ride courtesy of Holy Motors director Leos Carax, starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard as a celebrity couple (he a contentious comedian, her a world-renowned opera singer) whose newborn baby daughter Annette is more than meets the eye. With bold, distinctive talents on the screen, behind the camera, and in charge of the tunes, it’s a recipe for a very different kind of musical.

As Adam Driver tells Empire in the upcoming new issue, the sense of creative unpredictability extended to Carax’s directing style. “Usually, you decode a director – ‘Okay, they don’t like this, they want me to do this’ – and then you kind of coast,” he says. “But there were days where he seemed to change how he was working within the film. That’s what makes him a good conductor, I guess.”

Annette – excl

It’s the sort of environment that gave the actor the space to explore his character – provocative stand-up comic Henry McHenry – in all kinds of different ways, leading to an animalistic performance partially inspired by the behaviour of gorillas. “I remember us talking initially about how much he’s a person that lives in his body,” says Driver of McHenry. “There’s a lot of juxtaposition. He’s smoking but also eating a banana. He’s health conscious but also ironic. Where does that energy go when suddenly how he gets it out is not there anymore?”

Empire – September 2021 cover

Read Empire’s full Annette feature in the Shang-Chi issue, on sale Thursday 5 August. Annette comes to UK cinemas from 3 September.

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