"I GET A LOT OF IDEAS WHEN I WAKE UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, JUST LIKE NOOMI DOES AT THE BEGINNING OF THE MOVIE"
As previously reported, Brian De Palma spoke with Anne Thompson before a live audience at the Toronto Film Festival on September 10th. That interview is now available to read at Indiewire's Thompson On Hollywood blog. In the interview, De Palma mentions that for a time he had been working on an adaptation of the John Farrow RKO film His Kind Of Woman, which had starred Robert Mitchum. De Palma told Thompson that he could not get the rights to it, though, and then the Love Crime remake came along. Regarding the latter, De Palma mentions that American distributors had come to producer Saïd Ben Saïd wanting to buy the rights for David Lynch. (Earlier reports have indicated the Ben Saïd decided he would be better off making the English version himself and then selling that to American distributors, and that is when he approached De Palma about doing the remake.)
Thompson asks De Palma how he came to collaborate with the original film's co-screenwriter, Natalie Carter. "Well, I wrote many versions of the script," De Palma answers, "and we were having problems casting the bad girl. We got people that were interested in playing Noomi's part, but not the bad girl. And we couldn't figure out [if] it was because something in the script was offending them. So I said to the producer, 'Maybe there's something I'm missing here, let's bring Natalie in.' And then Natalie put in some more material for the bad girl that was in the original script, but was not in the original movie. Then the girls arrived and had a whole different idea about how they were going to play the characters -- which, let me tell you, how shocked I was -- because we'd been working on this script for weeks and months and forever, and then the actresses come in and say, 'No, no, no, we don't want to do that, we want to do this.' Natalie and I had to go through all their scenes and re-write them with the stuff that they brought in the rehearsals."
De Palma discusses how the actresses improvised a lot, and then Thompson asks about that drawer glimpsed in the film's teaser trailer (see image above). "That drawer was created by Cornelia Ott, the production designer," De Palma tells Thompson. "And believe me, she had other things for that drawer that I said, 'I think that's a little too much.' But she carefully arranged all those things in that drawer, and she said 'What do you think?' And I said, 'Yikes! Okay!' I love the way Noomi picks these things up,'Holy mackerel, what is that?'"
Thompson asks, "So you didn't intend in the writing for that dynamic to exist?" And De Palma responds, "Well, it was important about the mask, we had to establish the mask. But all the toys that they use, you gotta hand that to Cornelia."
Also discussed is the film's play with reality and dreams. De Palma tells Thompson, "Well, because I get a lot of ideas when I wake up in the middle of the night, just like Noomi does in the beginning of the movie, the whole movie's filled with actions like that. She's constantly waking up and not sure exactly [whether] what came before was a dream or wasn't a dream. And Noomi's playing a clever con game with the audience all the time, because you believe that she is an innocent person, she didn't know what she was doing. 'The drugs made me crazy,' and you buy it."
Thompson notes that the Pino Donaggio score shifts directions throughout the film, beginning with a comedic tone. "Yeah," says De Palma. "Nobody writes those psycho dream things like Pino does, and there's a long section of Noomi's nightmare that has big surprises in it, and he's just the master of that. I mean, we did it in Carrie, we did it in Dressed to Kill, we did it in Raising Cain. And then there's the other music that's very lyrical, especially when Noomi's falling apart, but it's very touching."
'PASSION' SHOT ON FILM WITH ONE CAMERA, AND ONE BIG STEADICAM SHOT
The discussion then turned to shooting Passion on film as opposed to video:
AT: What cameras did you use and how many?
BDP: Well, we had one camera, and we shot on film.
AT: You shot in 35mm? Wow. Nobody does that anymore.
BDP: That's correct. The problem is that they only make digital things from it, and a lot of movies are released digitally.
AT: Are you decrying the death of 35?
BDP: Of course I am, but when we find a cheaper way to put it in the theaters, they're going to do it that way. Plus, we have the big problem with everybody looking at things on smaller screens. You could be in your bed with your iPad watching "Lawrence of Arabia," that's the problem.
AT: So how did you move the Steadicam around in this movie?
BDP: Well, there's only one really big Steadicam shot and that's when Noomi has her breakdown. And I wanted to give her the emotional length to be able to play the emotion, all the way up from coming down the hallway, into the elevator, into the garage.
AT: Now how many takes do you usually do? What would be your average?
BDP: Not a lot, we don't do a lot of takes. We usually tried different things that the girls would try to do, but after I got it I'd sort of look at them and ask, "Is there anything else you want to do?" And they'd either say yes or no, depending on how they felt about the scene.
De Palma also took questions from the audience, which are included in the transcript. Also mentioned in the interview is that De Palma plans to shoot the remake of Heat in Nice and in Normandy.