Matthias Schoenaerts on ‘The Mustang’ and Re-Humanizing Humans through Animals

     February 27, 2019


It’s about time Matthias Schoenaerts becomes more widely known as a leading man. You might have caught some of his supporting performances in wide releases like Red Sparrow and The Danish Girl, but his latest project, The Mustang, is further proof that Schoenaerts is a true headliner because he delivers an unforgettable and wildly impressive performance in the film.

He leads The Mustang as Roman Coleman, a convict who just got out of solitary confinement at a maximum security prison and is reentering the general population, a move that includes getting a job assignment. Roman is sent to the prison’s mustang training program where he keeps to himself, cleaning up after the horses. But, when he makes a connection with an especially ornery horse, he becomes an important part of the program designed to find these mustangs homes, while also learning a good deal about himself in the process.

While in Park City for The Mustang‘s Sundance world premiere, Schoenaerts took a little time to sit down and talk about his experience making the movie and also his hopes for the future of his career. We discussed the challenge of achieving redemption for his character, the business of the prison system and the importance of prison reform programs, what kind of roles he hopes to book from here, and so much more. You can give the interview a listen using the audio embed below and, if you’d like, there’s also a handy breakdown of our conversation for you as well. And don’t forget to check out my full review of The Mustang right here .

Matthias Schoenaerts:

  • Schoenaerts on attending the Sundance Film Festival for the very first time.
  • What is The Mustang about and what drew Schoenaerts to the project?
  • Playing a character who’s going to be a challenge to redeem over the course of the movie.
  • What Schoenaerts learned from speaking with convicts to prep for The Mustang.
  • The importance of not judging his characters.
  • The need to re-humanize humans; Schoenaerts highlights prison reform programs.
  • Working with first time feature director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre; her personal connection to the material.
  • the-mustang-image-matthias-schoenaerts

    Image via Focus Features

    Schoenaerts on whether or not he can turn his characters off between takes; taking pieces of his roles with him.

  • The intensity of jumping into a small space with a wild animal.
  • Working with Blockers standout Gideon Adlon.
  • Coming full circle with The Mustang with its Sundance debut.
  • His goal to continue to work with good directors on material that’s relevant.

You can find the official synopsis for The Mustang below:

Roman (Matthias Schoenaerts), a convict in a rural Nevada prison who struggles to escape his violent past, is required to participate in an “outdoor maintenance” program as part of his state-mandated social rehabilitation. Spotted by a no-nonsense veteran trainer (Bruce Dern) and helped by an outgoing fellow inmate and trick rider (Jason Mitchell), Roman is accepted into the selective wild horse training section of the program, where he finds his own humanity in gentling an especially unbreakable mustang.

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