Sure, Donald Glover tapped into his own cringe hook-up encounters for “Swarm,” but he also looked to films “King of Comedy” and “The Piano Teacher” for the unhinged Prime Video series.
“Bro, we steal everything. Anything that works, we will take it. I’ll leave it at that,” Glover told Vulture.
“Swarm” centers around super fan Dre (Dominique Fishback) and her bloodthirsty obsession and subsequent devotion to a pop star.
Surprisingly, it was Isabelle Huppert’s haunting performance in Michael Haneke’s 2001 drama “The Piano Teacher” that inspired Glover to craft the role of Dre. Huppert plays a piano instructor who partakes in self-mutilation and has a voyeuristic sadomasochistic affair with her student, played by Benoît Magimel.
“Isabelle Huppert in ‘The Piano Teacher’ was the most interesting character study I’d seen in a minute. Me and my brother were like, ‘Well, who is that now? Who’s a young version of that? Who’s willing to do that?'” Glover said.
Glover continued of Fishback, “I was like, ‘This is what you’re getting into. How does this make you feel? If you’re like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to do it like that’ or ‘I felt like it was too much,’ this probably won’t work.’ It wasn’t to scare her, but we never wanted to lie about what this was.”
For Fishback, the “Atlanta” creator added, “She grew more and more into [the role]. I kept telling her, ‘Think of it more like an animal, and less like a person.’ It reminds me of how I have a fear with dogs because I’m like, ‘You’re not looking at me in the eye, I don’t know what you’re capable of.’ And that’s what I wanted to have with her and she really nailed that. She just started doing this thing with her eyes, where she was not making eye contact with you or would look around.”
Glover, who has an overall production deal with Prime Video, shared, “There was going to be someone else who would be willing to do this. I don’t know if they’d be able to do as great a job as Dominique did. And I mean that honestly, I’m really glad it was her. But there’s always somebody who’s willing to take the risk. And I’m more interested in the risk. It’s just easy to make shit now. It’s easier to produce it. It’s easier to get the analytics and know what people are going to say and know how people are going to feel. And I am not interested in putting an audience on a slow methadone drip of content. I’m more interested in trying to give someone pause.”