Brian De Palma talks making the erotic thriller ‘Passion’

Brian De Palma returns to movies with the campy erotic thriller "Passion." Credit: Getty Images
Brian De Palma returns to movies with the campy erotic thriller “Passion.”
Credit: Getty Images

Veteran filmmaker Brian De Palma’s latest pulpy thriller, “Passion,” pits Rachel McAdams against Noomi Rapace as ad agency colleagues out for blood after McAdams takes credit for Rapace’s idea for an ad. There’s a lot craziness going on in the film, including more than a little intimacy between its female leads — and none of that was the “Carrie” and “Scarface” director’s idea, he insists.

There is a lot of, shall we say, fluid female sexuality in this film.

I just let the girls go with the scene and just sat back to see what would happen. The way that Dani [played by Karoline Herfurth] offered herself to Isabelle [played by Rapace] — “Kiss me!” — and then starts to undress her! [Laughs] All the girls, all their intimate stuff, was all improvised. They just play it. They make it as real as possible. If something’s not working, we try something else, but they were all fantastic, and it was just fascinating to watch them.

Rachel McAdams’ character feels a lot like a grown-up version of her character from “Mean Girls.” Had you seen that film?

Of course. Oh, I knew Rachel could play it. I’d seen her play it before. Playing a dark, manipulative lady is a hell of a lot of fun, and she had a lot of fun doing it.

You use a split-screen during pivotal scene in the film. How have the reactions been to that?
It seems to work. Everybody seems to talk about it a lot. It’s not like I just have a paint box of things I want to stick in my movies. I look at the scene, and I think, “What’s the best way to shoot this?” Also, I’ve never done a murder where you have a split-screen and you have these two fantastically beautiful women on each side, and then suddenly a knife slashes somebody’s throat and you see somebody with a mask splattered with blood. I’d never done it before.

You recreate an actual viral video as part of the plot for the film. Have you heard anything from its makers?
I haven’t heard anything. But yes, I saw it on the Internet and I basically copied it for the movie. It went viral, everybody thought it was real, but in reality it was two advertising executives [in Australia].

You didn’t have to reach out to them about using the idea?
No. I think advertising copies everything, basically. I don’t think they get worried about being copied themselves.


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