Carrie Movie 2013, I sat in a round-table interview with director Kimberly Pierce (Stop Loss, Boys Don’t Cry) to talk about the remake of 1976’s Carrie. We Carrie being a superhero origin stories, working with a great cast, what scares her, and I pitch an idea for a sequel.
How does it feel to have the honor of retelling one of Stephen King’s iconic story of Carrie?
Kimberly Pierce: It’s amazing. And you used the right word, it’s an honor. I’m a huge Stephen King fan. I was a literature student so I read it when I was in college. I re-read it when they came to me to do the movie and I was blown away at what an amazing storyteller Stephen King is. It’s a classic tale that’s incredibly timely to its era, and also a timeless story. It’s even more relevant today than it was then. I love a central protagonist. I had that in Boy Don’t Cry and in Stop Loss – it’s what I love about movies. I love Carrie White. I love that she’s a misfit, an outcast, but she wants love and acceptance because that’s what we all want. She’s up against huge obstacles to get it. The girls in the school don’t want her to have it, and her mother is constantly feuding with her because she thinks she’s the seed of sin. At the end of the day, it’s a superhero origin story. Carrie discovers she has superpowers and those superpowers make life acceptable. It’s like having a talent in your life. Talent makes like bearable. I love that she explores it. I love that she doesn’t have any control over it. I love that she doesn’t understand the magnitude of it. I also love that it’s a Cinderella story. What does she want? Love and acceptance. When she’s asked to prom she can’t say no and we can’t say no. We’ve fallen in love with this Cinderella story. I think we want to take her to the height of the Cinderalla night and we crave seeing it turn on its head. I think we want to see it all go badly and when it goes badly we stare because we’re glad it’s not going badly for us. I think it’s amazing that then we desperately want her to get revenge. To me the equation was having to fall madly in love with Carrie White to support the revenge tale at the end.
One of the things that distinguishes this film is the visual effects you were able to use. How did having access to those effects alter how you approached the story.
KP: I think what those tools did was empower me. When I read the book, I see it in my minds eye as this largely entertaining story using superhero powers. When she’s using her powers she can move books, but then she loses control. In particular at the prom, when she wants to get revenge she just moves people out of the way. The scene where Chris goes through the window, that took a lot of time to think through. I had this vision of letting the punishment fit the crime. The beautiful girl Chris, who’s a total narcissist, what’s her punishment? We’re going to mess up her face. The difficult part of my job was figuring out how to put somebody’s face through a window. You can’t put an actor’s face through a window. So what do you do? A) You can put an actor’s face through sugar glass. B) You can put animation through fake glass. C) An actor can fly forward on a green screen. So that scene is a series of a ton of composites and that was really a blast for me. So it’s the real actor, an animated version of the actor, it’s real glass, it’s fake glass, it’s drawn glass, and that’s state of the art.
That was one of the great changes you made in the film. In the original, we don’t get to enjoy Carrie’s revenge. The car swerves and it explodes. I liked being able to enjoy her getting revenge.
KP: Good! That was my whole goal. I wanted you to have the most satisfaction and the most enjoyment. The whole movie I was building up to make it really fun. What I love is the Chris and Billy relationship. Chris has Billy wrapped around her finger, and she’s calling her dad when things go bad. I love when they get trapped and they turn around and Chris says, “It’s Carrie” , and then says “Run her down.” That’s their whole relationship. You’re supposed to get reignited by them being jerks and then Carrie really has a right to punch it to them. It’s a revenge tale so it’s vital that scene works.
How many times did you film the blood scene?
KP: Take a guess? Twice! I was told I can only do it once. The reason being, the cleanup was huge. It’s a whole rig that falls and splatters over the whole set. is a minor so we could only do it once a day. The cleanup alone took three hours. The first time I was a nervous wreck because I didn’t think it was going to work. It hit perfectly and I got to do it one more time.
One of the scariest part was Carrie’s mom devout Christianity. How do you think devout religion can be a scary thing.
KP: I need to make it really clear, Margaret has her own religion. She was in a recognizable religion at some point. She had sex with her husband, she got pregnant, she defined that as a sin, and moved off into her own religion. It’s a religion that she defines. She has her own iconography and as Carrie says, she changes things to mean what she wants. As Julianne [Moore] would tell you, she’s delusional. In her mind, her utmost responsibility is to protect her daughter and she believes she protects her daughter by using corporal punishment.
Your cast was amazing and almost unrecognizable. I didn’t even recognize Portia Doubleday (Youth in Revolt).
KP: That’s wonderful. That’s what I told Chloe when I hired her. You’re an incredibly confident and precocious star. You have a family that loves you and is always around you. You could not be farther from Carrie White. She has to be fragile, scared, timid, and broken down. The fun is moving her from one point to another. That transformation is everything to me. At the end, the character is the original person plus a big change. When Carrie gets to the prom, you see glimpses of the Chloe Moretz that you know. The same thing is true with Julianne Moore.
You see that towards the end with Carrie and Margaret. This loving mother starts to come out followed by her saying, “I should’ve killed you”
KP: That’s because Julianne has the warmth to draw from. One of my favorite lines in the movie is something that Julianne and I pulled out of the book. She says, “I’ll be the preacher, you be the congregation.” Carrie surrenders down to her because she so desperately wants her mother’s love and thinks she’s going to get it.
Do you have a favorite scene?
KP: I would say I love the sequence when Carrie comes home from the prom. She’s got blood on her and she’s crying, “Mamma! Mamma!Mamma!” I wrote that in because I wanted her to regress into being that little girl again. I do love the bath scene. She’s looking at her hands, she’s saying I’m sorry, and she’s crumbling back down to being a vulnerable girl. I almost cried when she was doing that. I love when she gets out the tub she really thinks there’s a chance things go back to normal. [imitating Carrie’s voice] “Ok. Mom and I are clean. We’re going to forget about the prom. Do you want me to pray? I didn’t want to pray at the beginning but I’ll pray.” I love it because that scene is like Carrie going to prom. You must be kidding if you’re going to prom with the most handsome boy. There must be a problem. Her mother has been feuding with her since she was born and relationships don’t change.
Even though Carrie has extraordinary powers, she’s still a child in the presence of her mother.
KP: The powers protect her. When Margaret attacks her, the powers shoot out and protect her.
What scares you the most?
KP: The dark and something coming out of nowhere and attacking me. It’s absolutely terrifying. It’s the unknown.
Have you thought about a sequel?
KP: I couldn’t tell you the answer to that question. I will say, we love Carrie White and there’s a yearning to know more. It’s a superhero origin story.
I’m all for you directing Carrie Goes to College where she goes to Stanford and wrecks havoc on the campus. I’d love to see her running around and lighting the Stanford mascot on fire.
KP: Carrie goes to Stanford! Alright, be sure to write that and hopefully the studio sees it.