Director Kimberly Peirce on the queerness of “Carrie”

 
 

AE: What was the most challenging part of making Carrie?

KP: Probably the most challenging and the best part was getting the right cast, because the movie that preceded us is fantastic and I had to go out there and find a Carrie White that you would fall madly in love with. I needed you to identify with the mistress and no matter what she is different from everybody else in the beginning, and that required an actress who is charismatic, who the camera loves, who is inherently vulnerable, even if Chloe Moretz is very confident and very successful, somebody who can draw you into her story so you can walk in her footsteps.

The other thing I needed was an amazing Margaret White. This story, at its core, is a mother/daughter story. This mother loves her daughter, this mother is terrified of the world. She has invented her own religion. She has repressed herself and repressed her daughter, and everything she does is to protect her daughter but she uses corporal punishment—she locks her in the closet. She doesn’t want her to go to prom. How can you find an actress who can bring you inside that character? Well I looked and it was obvious that Julianne Moore was the first choice. She’s one of our greatest living actresses, she’s beautiful, she’s charismatic, she’s sexy, she’s warm, and she’s a great actress. So she came to the role, again, a fictitious character, with so much authenticity and clarity and she made this woman real. She made her own religion, she loves her daughter, she punishes her daughter, she hurts herself—you’ll see there’s a beautiful scene in the movie where she digs into her own leg and hits herself in the head. She’s doing that because she has so much pent up pain and fear and she’d rather take it out on herself than her daughter.

So it was amazing to me that between these two brilliant actresses I I have a great love story and yet a great feud. The mother is constantly trying to figure out what to do with this child she thinks is evil and thinks reveals her own sin, so I added in a scene at the beginning that starts the relationship off right in the beginning in this feud and this love story so it escalates, and at the high point, they have a fight like you’ve never seen before.

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The other really interesting and queer thing about it, outside of the powers and it being very queer, is the relationship among all the girls. It’s a very homo-social environment. Carrie really wants to be accepted by these other girls because the girls have a lot of social privilege and they’re beautiful and they’re charismatic and they’re part of a cool club. After they torment Carrie there’s a split among the girls: One girl feels really guilty and wants to do something about it, and the other girl is angry every time somebody tries to help Carrie out. And that girl, Chris Hargensen, escalates her attacks—pretty much like Boys Don’t Cry—because she thinks Carrie has gotten the attention of the teacher, the attention of Kris’s best friend Sue, and even the support of the principal and even her own father. So it’s interesting to see what the girls did to Carrie sets in motion the entire movie because one girl tries to correct what she did wrong, that’s Sue Snell and she donates her boyfriend to Carrie. The other girl gets madder and madder and madder and she’s constantly escalating her attacks against Carrie. What I find interesting is the two straight girls, when they’re with their boyfriends, they’re always talking about Carrie. The things these two girls have together is to talk about Carrie. If they’re with their boyfriends, they’re talking about Carrie. We even have two scenes where heterosexual sex is interrupted to talk about Carrie.

AE: So it’s like an obsession they have with her.

KP: It’s an obsession they have with her, they triangulate with her, they’re focused on her. I mean, Carrie White is an amazing character because she’s in a relationship with these two girls, these two girls’ boyfriends, and a relationship with her own mother and she has a mother figure at school. So it’s pretty knee-deep in queerness.

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