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Léa Seydoux Explains Why She Dropped Out of David Cronenberg’s ‘The Shrouds’

David Cronenberg is set to release his most personal film yet with “The Shrouds.” But it won’t involve Léa Seydoux.

The supernatural drama stars Vincent Cassel as a grieving businessman who builds a state-of-the-art device that helps people reconnect with the dead, unraveling memories of his late wife in the process. Cronenberg was inspired to write and direct the film, originally conceived as a series at Netflix before the streamer passed, after the death of his own wife, film editor Carolyn Cronenberg, in 2017.

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Cronenberg originally cast Léa Seydoux as the co-lead opposite Vincent Cassel. The director first worked with Seydoux on “Crimes of the Future,” where she starred as one-half of a performance artist couple who perform surgeries before live audiences, opposite Viggo Mortensen. But while the Canadian filmmaker’s 2022 production was a mix of English-speaking actors from Europe and the U.S., “The Shrouds” proved a different challenge for Seydoux with both the leads being French and speaking English.

Seydoux’s casting in “The Shrouds” was announced in September 2022. But in March 2023, she was replaced by German actor Diane Kruger, unexplained, right before the film began production that May (as noted by World of Reel). The Seydoux/Kruger role reportedly is three parts in one — including as Cassel’s deceased wife and as his character’s assistant.

“I loved working with David [Cronenberg]. I love him. I’m a huge fan, but then I thought, first of all, I was a bit tired. I wanted to have a break,” Seydoux said to IndieWire when asked why she’s no longer attached to “The Shrouds,” a project she dropped out of ahead of filming.

“Maybe I thought two French actors speaking English, it’s weird,” she said. “The Shrouds” has been wrapped for almost a year and is widely tipped for a Cannes premiere, where Cronenberg’s films almost always start.

“The script is great,” said Seydoux, but asked to elaborate, she added, “I wanted to have some time for myself.” Her previous year, 2022, was a busy one, with both Bertrand Bonello’s audacious sci-fi “The Beast” (out April 5) and “Dune: Part Two” filming back to back. She also stars in the new Quentin Dupieux film, also tipped for Cannes.

But again, she said, “I thought that two French actors speaking English was a bit strange. David said, ‘That’s not a problem for me.’ But for me, it’s weird. Why would I speak English with a French actor?” Indeed, both Seydoux and Cassel are French-born native speakers, though speaking at San Sebastian in 2022, Cronenberg insisted, “It’s not a French film.”

“I’m sure with Diane, it will be great,” Seydoux said. On the six degrees of separation spectrum, Kruger and Seydoux share a connection: Kruger’s partner is Norman Reedus, the actor who co-stars with Seydoux in the “Death Stranding” video games from Hideo Kojima. The PlayStation 5 game’s sequel is currently in production and expected to drop in 2025, with Reedus and Seydoux reprising their roles. (A film adaptation is now on the way, too, from A24. No casting news there yet, though.)

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