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Catherine Hardwicke On Her Kinky, Twisted Thriller 'Plush' and Why She Considers 'Twilight' an Indie

By R. Kurt Osenlund | Indiewire October 10, 2013 at 8:52AM

Catherine Hardwicke often speaks with the giddy, impassioned verve of a teenager. She takes great breaths in her speech in order to emphasize ideas, and to help you feel the way she feels about them. Given Hardwicke's filmography, such a disposition seems only natural. It's easy to see the themes and characters that attract the director. Since her searing, achingly raw breakout, “Thirteen,” Hardwicke has gravitated toward the filmic translation of adolescence, rebellion, rock, and angst, preferably channeled through a young female protagonist. Hardwicke is also, of course, the helmer of the first “Twilight” movie, which she says she personally regards as an “indie film,” as well as “The Nativity Story,” which gave us Mary (Keisha Castle-Hughes) as the original pregnant teen.
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Catherine Hardwicke

Catherine Hardwicke often speaks with the giddy, impassioned verve of a teenager. She takes great breaths in her speech in order to emphasize ideas, and to help you feel the way she feels about them. Given Hardwicke's filmography, such a disposition seems only natural. It's easy to see the themes and characters that attract the director. Since her searing, achingly raw breakout, “Thirteen,” Hardwicke has gravitated toward the filmic translation of adolescence, rebellion, rock, and angst, preferably channeled through a young female protagonist. Hardwicke is also, of course, the helmer of the first “Twilight” movie, which she says she personally regards as an “indie film,” as well as “The Nativity Story,” which gave us Mary (Keisha Castle-Hughes) as the original pregnant teen.

Bouncing back from the slump that was “Red Riding Hood,” Hardwicke returns this season with “Plush,” a twisty music-world thriller that's loaded with gonzo and kinky elements, all of which seem to spring from the filmmaker's age-defying id. Starring Emily Browing as Hayley, a popular rocker who suffers the loss of brother and bandmate Jack (Thomas Dekker), and tries to rebound with the help of new guitarist—and dangerous lover—Enzo (Xavier Samuel), “Plush”sees Hardwicke in both familiar and experimental territories. It boasts her canny knack for capturing the hormonal rushes of youth, while displaying a look and tone that are welcomingly wild, even to the point of killer camp.

Plush

Arriving on DVD and VOD October 15, and co-starring “Twilight” alum Cam Gigandet as Hayley's cuckolded hubbie, “Plush,” Hardwicke says, was a work that allowed her to stretch, and she concedes that it may reflect that she's a little twisted herself. Speaking further, she chats about how Browning and Samuel's onscreen heat translated into true romance, how kid leashes and coyote vomit made it into the final cut, and how “Plush” is a sinful pleasure that's off the rails in all the right ways.

So, in terms of Emily Browning movies, I think you may have even out-crazied “Sucker Punch” here, which isn't exactly an easy thing to do. Were you aiming to just go balls-out in terms of the film's frenetic, psychosexual tone?

[Laughs] Yeah, kind of. I was kind of doing the Method writing, Method directing kind of thing, where you just go into that character and kind of let yourself go. In a way, what the character [Hayley] is doing is she's pushing boundaries and trying to explore her own creativity, and her own artistic expression—trying to find her voice. And a lot of times as an artist, you'll try to go to extremes. Throughout history, people have turned to whatever—drugs, or drinking, or anything to get them into the creative zone. I was just interested in exploring that. So when I was writing and working on it, I didn't try to censor myself too much. I just thought, “Oh. I'm going to take a risk and try something different.” I went where the character took me.

And had you seen “Sucker Punch,” by any chance? Did that film factor into the casting of Emily in any way? It's a pretty divisive film in terms of how it portrays women.

Well, I had seen some clips, but I didn't see the whole movie until I found out Emily had read the script and was interested in my film. Then I sat down and watched it. So, of course, I already had the script written. I wouldn't say it had any influence in the script unless something was magically implanted in my brain. But then I saw how she looked in “Sucker Punch,” and she sings two songs on the soundtrack, and she's fantastic. That all made me think, “Wow she'd be great.” She's really fearless in “Sucker Punch,” and she's got a great, soulful voice. So I thought, “Oh yeah, she'll kill it.”

Regarding the females you've presented in your work, you've really run the gamut, from Tracy in “Thirteen” and Mary in “The Nativity Story” to Bella Swan in “Twilight” and Red in “Red Riding Hood.” How does Hayley fit into that mix for you?

Plush

Let me just say first that I love that you threw Mary in there too. Thank you! Well, Hayley, in my mind, is struggling to find out who she is as an artist. She had this awesome collaborator in her brother, and now she's vulnerable, and trying to recover from that and find herself again. And she's also got herself in this crazy situation with two kids and a husband, and she's probably too young for all of it, and it's maybe not her choice. So it's like, how does a woman right now try to have a creative life, or a career, and a family? How do you do it all, and how do you do it all well? She wants to push the edge with her art, and she really wants to try to do something different. How do you get into that zone? Who gets to do it?

Yeah, she's living two lives. How old is she supposed to be in the film?

Well, she had the kids when she was about 19, and now they're about four and a half. So she's, like, 24, which was exactly Emily's age when we filmed.

Okay. Because I appreciate how, as a middle-aged woman, you have this keen ability to convey visceral sensations of youth. And they can be fleeting, like during the all-nighter that Hayley shares with Enzo, where he's in drag and they're in the pool. Where does that come from? Do you think you just have a permanent adolescent spirit?

[Laughs] Probably. Yeah, that's my favorite sequence in the film. I love it. But, for example, I went to architecture school when I was 18, in Austin, and it just kind of blew my mind. Maybe I can just go right back, in sense memory, to those days. Because I was just so passionate about architecture, and drawing, and painting, and designing these cool buildings. And if another guy in my studio was up late at night drawing, we'd just have to fall madly in love with each other. And then we'd have an architectural jam session all night, and be building stuff. So I guess I've just always been attracted to that—abandon yourself to be creative.

This article is related to: Plush, Catherine Hardwicke, Interviews, Twilight Saga, Twilight, Emily Browning, Xavier Samuel





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