Gregg Araki and Shailene Woodley sat down with Indiewire’s Nigel Smith as part of AOL Build’s interview series to discuss their upcoming film, “White Bird in a Blizzard.” The film, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, stars Woodley as Kat Connors, a 17 year old girl both discovering her sexuality and dealing with the mysterious disappearance of her hauntingly beautiful mother, Eve (Eva Green).
Also starring Christopher Meloni, Shiloh Fernandez, Gabourey Sidibe, Thomas Jane, Dale Dickey, Mark Indelicato, Sheryl Lee and Angela Bassett, “White Bird in a Blizzard” will see a limited released in theaters on October 24.
Nils Larsen, Woodley’s manager, is good friends with Araki.
“It was at the Spirit Awards when Shailene won for ‘Descendants’ that I saw Nils again and [he said] Shailene is looking to do something, she’s been passing on everything, she’s being very particular and wants to follow up ‘Descendants’ with something super special and, you know, do you have anything? And I said I’m working on this book adaptation and Nils was like oh my god, send it and I hadn’t even finished it yet. But I finally finished it, sent it to Shailene and I guess she liked it because there she is.” – Gregg Araki
Woodley supports the film’s emphasis on teenage sexuality.
“I think it’s so refreshing to see a coming-of-age film that actually deals with sex and that has sexuality be a large theme in the film because it’s such a large part of so many adolescents’ lives right? It’s there, we just don’t really talk about and we really don’t talk about it in cinema too often with young people and you look at French films or European films and it’s not a big deal because sexuality is not something that’s sort of taboo over there. It’s more normal, it’s more accepted, it’s just a part of life and it’s part of all of our lives.”
“The image of life being so perfect with the lawn [in the film] and yet being so completely broken inside and projecting an image to others that isn’t actually the feeling that you exist within yourself I feel like is similar to sexuality in America in a lot of ways, you know, where it’s something that exists and you pretend that it doesn’t in everyday life. I thought it was really. neat. And it was truthful. It wasn’t exploitive or anything.”
But there was one element of sex was totally new for her.
“…I never had to do a sex scene looking into a camera before. That was a little bit interesting.”
READ MORE: Shailene Woodley Sundance Drama ‘White Bird in a Blizzard’ Acquired by Magnolia Pictures
Araki enjoyed the challenging of telling a story driven from the female perspective.
“…What it’s like to be a woman, what it’s like to be a young girl coming of age, what it’s like to be a mother and a wife who’s not happy and is sort of playing this role she really doesn’t want to play and the relationships between mothers and daughters…there were so many things going on in this story that I had never, even as a man, even thought about. I think that was something, as a filmmaker, that really, really excited me.”
“Divergent” pushed Woodley the most out of her comfort zone.
“It was such a big world. You know, there’s green screens and not only were you trying to act, you have to remember fight choreography and the timing of a bomb that’s going off in the corner and like make sure you don’t get hit but still be an actor. So that was probably the most challenging just in the sense that are so many elements that I had never worked with before.”
Araki loves the church of old-school cinema, but understands the wants of the generation.
“Now with VOD and Amazon and iTunes and everything, it’s incredibly cool to me that some kid in Alaska can read a tweet about ‘White Bird’ and push a button and watch it right now. The instantaneousness of that and the accessibility of that, is, as a filmmaker, super exciting.”
Check out the full Q&A session below: