Director of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, Tom Tykwer

Many filmmakers have been trying to get this film made for the longest time. Were you intimidated by the prospect of working on such a coveted project?
I think it is a responsibility if you pick up a film like that. It’s not just a bestseller, but also something that people have taken to heart. At points I was nervous, but I felt that if we kept this responsibility in mind, we would always know when we were losing the path.
Who were your influences as a director?
I guess my earliest references would’ve been King Kong, the old one. Not very original, I know, because many filmmakers claim it as their influence. I remember I was 10 or something and thinking, “There’s a craft that leads to this kind of results.” I admired that. I was hooked by that genre: Suspense and thriller. Not so much the fantasy, but the emotional involvement. I was completely amazed that you could be emotional involved with a giant ape!
How do you feel that your style has progressed since Run, Lola, Run?
I don’t know. You tell me! I guess it has, but I know it must be recognizable. That’s what we love in cinema; we visit voices we have relations with. To have a history with a filmmaker is something that lots of people admire. It’s like meeting a good old friend and listening to his new story. You always feel at home. Maybe, sometimes, you’re sent into an unknown room, but it’s always home.
Did you have any problems while filming the outrageous orgy scene towards the end of the movie?
No! It was easy! It is, of course, a challenging thing to do as a director. It took us weeks to prepare. I looked at it as an emotional choreography. We got assistance from a dance company in Spain. We went through thousands of castings because, strangely enough, a lot of bodies and faces looked too modern. We wanted all kinds of shapes of bodies and not trained health club bodies. These body types just didn’t exist back then. I think we had 5,000 people to choose from, and we ended up with 800. We all went together to a sports hall and worked with the choreographers. We made it clear (to the actors) that they were carrying the motion; that it was really about acting. That took several weekends and, slowly, they got more relaxed. Normally, for extras, you tell them to go left or right, and they won’t know what the f*** is going on! But these actors were really prepared because we treated them like actors.
See our review of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer here