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“Just recently,” says Harron, “John and I were talking, and in the course of this conversation we sort of realized that if the whole Leonardo thing hadn’t happened, the movie would have fallen apart and never have gotten made, because I wasn’t able to get the big stars around Christian. I mean, the only reason Leonardo wanted to do it was the crazy place he was in. My instinct is that Lions Gate was going to let it go. Once the Leonardo thing happened, there was so much publicity they could not not make it. It’s actually very funny how things happen.”
Michael Paseornek doesn’t necessarily disagree. “I’ve been accused in the independent film world of having orchestrated this whole thing,” he says. “I think it did help [get the film made], but I can assure you that we did not do this for that reason.”
During the four years it has taken Mary Harron to make her second film, she has given birth to one child, gotten married, and started on another baby as well as another feature. Along with Guinevere Turner, she is furiously trying to finish a script about ’50s cult pinup Betty Page before going into labor. Harron hopes that by next spring she’ll be ready to go into production on it. Talking by phone a few weeks ago, though, she sounded exhausted.
“You know, I’m just so overwhelmed. I’m having a baby. I’m so tired, and then I’ve been doing press. I don’t know, as glorious as [pregnancy] is, the domestic responsibilities have to be met. It’s just a movie, and I haven’t got enough little T-shirts for the new baby.” Being a woman right now is making it hard for Harron to be a director. A lot of women directors and would-be women directors would say that it’s almost always hard. There’s no small irony, and perhaps even a lesson, therefore, in the fact that on this film, based on a book that many women still consider irredeemably misogynist, being a woman actually may have given the director an edge.
“I think being a woman helped me, has helped me quite a bit in the aftermath,” Harron says. “Heaven forbid if a man had made this movie. I think a man would have made a different film. But say it was a man with a very kind of female, sensitive take on things — he still would have been given a harder time, because I think it just stops people a bit in their tracks. Anyway, it is a little harder for women to make their second movies. And if you’re a woman, you have to be on best behavior all the time. You just can’t seem to be hysterical, you can’t show too much temperament. You have to be firm.”
She’s tired, but hanging tough. “Either people like it or have a problem with it,” Harron says of her film. “But I’m unrepentant.”
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