The 71-year-old director spoke to reporters on Monday following the movie's premiere at Cannes. Julianne Moore stars as struggling actress Havana Segrand, a character Cronenberg says is "terrified she'll cease to exist." Havana is the client of Stafford Weiss (John Cusack), a psychotherapist whose life is complicated when his criminal pyromanic daughter Agatha (Mia Wasikowska) becomes the actress's personal assistant.
The director attributes Havana's "cruelty and viciousness" in the movie to "the industry," and asserts that [Hollywood] people are "desperate to exist" and "desperate to assert their existence." For Havana, rejection "is a living death," and success is a "matter of existence or non-existence."
"The movie is not only about Hollywood," Cronenberg clarifies. "You could set this in Silicon Valley, you could set it on Wall Street, or any place where people are desperate, ambitious, greedy, fearful. To see it as only an attack on show business and Hollywood is shortchanging it."
"It is a very familiar ecosystem," Cusack adds. "There are all sorts of people within acting who feed it and enable it, and are predators. It could be Washington, or the financial district. But there's something about LA, and fame, and the need for acknowledgment, which is very infantile."
Maps to the Stars also stars Robert Pattinson, Olivia Williams, Evan Bird and Sarah Gadon. A U.S. release date has not yet been set.