LAURIE DESCRIBES IN NEW MEMOIR HOW SHE CAME TO READ 'CARRIE' SCRIPT AS COMEDY, BEFORE DE PALMA CORRECTED HER
Piper Laurie and Betty Buckley will be on hand to present Brian De Palma's Carrie this Friday, November 11, at the Lone Star International Film Festival in Fort Worth, Texas. Buckley, a Fort Worth native, also appears in one of the festival's new films, Five Time Champion, which screens Thursday night (November 10).
If you buy a $20 ticket to the Carrie screening, you also get a copy of Laurie's new memoir, Learning To Live Out Loud, in which she includes a section about her work on Carrie. Laurie recalls reading the script and not being very impressed. But then her husband, Joe Morgenstern, mentioned that De Palma "often has a comedic approach to his work," and she read the script again from a satirical angle and became quite inspired. During a rehearsal period with De Palma and Sissy Spacek, however, Laurie went a little overboard when she began pulling her hair during the scene where she is trying to keep Carrie from going to the prom (the script had called for Laurie to tear her own clothes, but not wanting to shred the work of the costumers during rehearsal, she devised the hair-pulling stunt). De Palma stopped her, saying, "Piper, you can't do that. You'll get a laugh!" It was then that Laurie realized she had mis-guessed the tone of De Palma's film. She kept the hair-pulling, but toned it down by making the pain she was feeling more introspective and deep, and here one can get a sense of the creative energy that led to this uncanny Oscar-nominated performance. When she went back home to New York, she decided to see every De Palma film she could, "including Phantom Of The Paradise, which had just opened. Very operatic-- [De Palma] liked that," Laurie writes. "I needed not be afraid to be big."
Earlier in the chapter, Laurie writes of her first meeting with the director. Laurie was nervous and, having not worked on a film in some 15 years, wanted to impress. She writes that De Palma "asked not one thing about me or what I thought of the script. Instead, he proceeded to tell me a great deal about himself and the work he had done, as if he were seeking a job from me and I were interviewing him. I realized he was trying to make me feel comfortable, and I was quite touched." Needless to say, as Laurie describes it, the two of them got along very smoothly on the set.
Elsewhere, Laurie, who had recently had back surgery, describes her initial fears of being jerked back onto the bed in Carrie's room via a harness. She had kept the surgery a secret, but now had to confide in De Palma, who instantly said they didn't have to do it that way and could use a body double. But Laurie decided to give it a try, and found that she could do it without any pain, even if she still finds the stunt difficult to watch now without clenching up. Laurie also describes filming her final speech in the film, and the bursts of laughter she would let out in between takes of her final death-by-cutlery scene.