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Interview: Kimberly Peirce Talks 'Carrie' Sequels, Comedy 'Butch Academy' & Says 'Silent Star' May Come Back

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist January 14, 2014 at 12:09PM

Filmmaker Kimberley Peirce has never been afraid of a challenge. From her directorial debut "Boys Don't Cry," telling the tragic story of Brandon Teena, to the Iraq war drama "Stop-Loss," Peirce has tackled difficult subject matter head on. But last year's remake of "Carrie" provided the director a different set challenges, foremost of which was re-telling a story that had already been made famous thanks to Brian De Palma's iconic horror film. But bringing her own perspective and insight as a woman, Peirce spun her own version, one she likened to a "superhero origin story."
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Carrie, Chloe Moretz

One of the interesting things you talked about in the lead up to Carrie being released was you had this idea of it being a super hero origin story. What kind of ideas were you playing with in that approach?
Well, when I looked at the book I actually saw that it was a super hero origin story. I saw that she was a misfit and as a misfit she didn't really have access to adjustment and social happiness. She was made fun of by the kids at school, she had a hard time at home, so life was not good. All of a sudden she discovers these super powers and it's like, "Holy shit, I’ve got these powers. Maybe life will be endurable for me." That was very much like Superman or Spiderman or any of the great superhero origin stories. These guys get access to something and they're like "Fine, I used to be a nerd, now I've got this thing." So for me that was really a great discovery.

"I love that we're back to aspiring to make good movies about adults."

I wanted to see the moment that she discovered it, I wanted to see that it was an antidote to her being a social outcast, and I wanted to see her play with it. It was very important to me that she wasn't good at it. She had to make mistakes. That's why the books had to go haywire. Part of the narrative journey is that you have to not know what you're doing in order to know what you’re doing. One of the most important things was when she goes to prom, particularly in a modern story, right? Given what's happened in our country, you didn't want to believe that she was going in to total control of her powers, because that would mean that she was totally responsible when she used those powers. You wanted some responsibility but you didn't want, "Oh, it doesn't matter if they make fun of her because she knows she can do whatever the hell she wants to them." 

I think this was a big change in my film, when she gets humiliated, the powers start leaking out and she immediately starts to run. She doesn’t want to release those powers, she doesn't want to hurt anybody. Tommy gets hurt, she stops. She takes care of Tommy. That's her fallen king, she loves him. Then she's pissed. When she says "Noooo" at those people that's just an overwhelming sense of grief and pain that's coming out and then it's like, "Okay, now it's on." But it wasn't like a calculated, long term thing that she planned. Nor was it completely disconnected from her. It's somewhere in the middle. That was really important to me as a superhero origin story. Then when she goes outside if you notice with Chris and Billy, she's chasing them down, she doesn't murder them, she sends a fissure into the earth that stops them and makes them come back so she can face Chris. She wants to have that mono y mono relationship with her. She wants to have a showdown. Then Chris tries to kill her again, so she says fine, you can go into the gas pumps.

I'm curious about "Butch Academy" and where it's at.
I love "Butch Academy." Is it closer to being a movie? It's something I have to get the script right on. But I do believe, for me, it's time. It's an area that I really want to dwell in because it's not just queer, it's queer and straight, it's got these really funny, sexy, great, butches who love their femme women, and who are friends with straight guys. It's kind of a look into something that I know well and I find a great deal of love and humor in. It's time has come, I have to get the script working.

It seems like the logical extension of Judd Apatow's brand of comedy. Is it in that sort of vein of films?
Yeah. It's definitely in that vein. What I love about his characters is they're fun, they're loveable, they're real. That’s something in any conversation I've ever had about him, when he talks about working, it's so refreshing because in fact his humor comes from reality.That's also why I love Woody Allen. All of his humor comes from something real.

Kimberley Peirce Hugh Jackman Evan Rachel Wood William Desmond Taylor

One project of yours that came close to happening was "Silent Star"...
I'm still trying to get "Silent Star" made, I just gave it to a studio. In fact, when it couldn't be made, you know it had Evan Rachel Wood, Ben Kingsley ... it was right at that moment when it was hard to get movies that were kind of serious and of a certain budget made. Everybody said that [those kinds of movies couldn't be made] around '04, '05 and now we're coming back to where adult entertainment makes money. I love the idea, that yeah, you can make a small movie that will make money. You can make movies for adults that will make money. I love that we're back to aspiring to make good movies about adults. But that's a very fun story. It's a true, unsolved murder mystery that we solved.

I really hope it comes to fruition.
Talk about it, maybe they'll make it. I think it's going to be either a great smaller movie or it could be great television, we're looking at both.

"Carrie" is on DVD and Blu-ray today.

This article is related to: Interviews, Interviews, Kimberly Peirce, Carrie, Butch Academy, Silent Star


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