Exclusive: Lars Eidinger Gives Update on Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig’s New Film White Noise

The great director Noah Baumbach has been working on a new film starring his wife (and another excellent director) Greta Gerwig, Adam Driver, and Don Cheadle, titled White Noise. The film, based on the masterful postmodern novel by Don DeLillo, is set to premiere on Netflix in the Fall and will premier at the prestigious Venice Film Festival.

Venice will also debut three other highly anticipated Netflix original movies Blonde, Athena, and Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s new film Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths, but White Noise is definitely an outlier that promises to be, at best, a masterpiece and, at worst, a fascinating disaster. One of the stars of White Noise (which concerns a college professor and his family navigating a way to survive what’s termed the Airborne Toxic Event) is the acclaimed German actor Lars Eidinger, who spoke to MovieWeb about the film.

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Noah Baumbach Brings the Postmodern White Noise to Netflix

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“One day, the phone rang, and it was Noah Baumbach asking for me, and it was because Greta Gerwig saw me playing Hamlet, and some of his friends saw me playing Richard III in New York,” Eidinger says. Within weeks, Eidinger was on a flight to Cleveland to film White Noise, playing the role of Arlo Shell (who is called Willie Mink and Mr. Gray in the novel).

“The novel is so interesting, so complex and contemporary,” Eidinger says, “and of course, a great parallel to the pandemic, with clouds going over the world, representing death. The beauty of my part, in the novel he’s called Mr. Gray, so already he’s somebody who’s between black and white. This is something that really interests me, because I’ve found my research that there’s a psychological term called ‘black and white thinking’ that means the tendency to think in extremes, and not to see the word like it is in its complexity and diversity and ambivalence.”

Lars Eidinger on the Theme of Death in White Noise

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“The other thing which is interesting is that he gets the drug that takes away the fear of death, but makes you forget,” Eidinger continues, describing themes of the novel and film. “At some point, you have to understand that the beauty or the definition of life is that it ends, and we are all afraid of death, but life without death doesn’t exist. The one makes the other, so in a way that’s what the whole movie is dealing with.” Eidinger goes on to describe the symbolism of White Noise in relation to his own career as an actor (which includes his recent brilliant turn in the HBO series Irma Vep):

For me, this is a very healing thing: that the beauty of life is death. It’s maybe the same way I love theater so much, because in a way, movies are much more morbid, because they pretend that it’s forever once you record it. In theater, everything that happens ends in the very moment. It’s the different between the eroticism of flowers versus plants. If you give somebody a plant, it’s not very erotic, but if you give somebody flowers, you know that they are already dead, because they are cut and thus more beautiful […] So I think the whole movie is dealing with this, and of course it’s a great metaphor for capitalism. I’m really looking forward to watching the movie.

White Noise is the third film between Baumbach and Netflix (after the Adam Driver-starring Marriage Story and The Meyerowitz Stories), but its troubled production might injure their relationship. During the strenuous shoot, the film has gone over-budget (swelling up to $140 million, 60 times the budget of Marriage Story) and way beyond schedule, with the production lasting nine months (and including the deaths of three crew members to an overdose, suicide, and heart attack). It seems like the film will be unlike anything Gerwig, Baumbach, or Eidinger have done yet, but with them and Driver behind the wheel of a DeLillo adaptation, it should at least be very interesting.