Michelle Pfeiffer on the Meaning of mother! and 'Unfiltered' Jennifer Lawrence

From TIME - September 7, 2017

Michelle Pfeiffer returns to the big screen alongside Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem and Ed Harris in writer-director Darren Aronofskys new film mother! (Sept. 15). Locked away in their isolated home, Lawrence's housewife plays muse to Bardem's cranky writer until Harris and Pfeiffer appear. The two play boundary-challenged visitors whose sudden appearance throws the young woman's tranquil rural life into disarray.

Like Aronofskys previous work (Pi, Black Swan), mother! is dark, challenging and riveting. This time, he has created a puzzle within a Hieronymus Boschstyle fever dream. Perhaps the house is Eden, corrupted by man. Maybe it's purgatory. Or Lawrence is mother earth, and her sacrifices to her husband akin to the tale of the Giving Tree.

Pfeiffer talked to TIME, offering insight into mother!'s unconventional style, how she came to love Jennifer Lawrence and her upcoming return to the world of superheroes in Ant-Man and the Wasp.

No spoilers, but what was your reaction to reading the mother! script for the first time?

It was very disturbing, very provocative. It was unlike anything I had ever read.

Most of the film takes place in one house. Its very intimate, almost like watching a play. What was it like to make?

It was a very different experienceeven the rehearsal process. [For reference] Darren actually filmed the entire movie on his iPhone during rehearsals. And that is something that I would never have really allowed. I never like behind-the-scenes filming because it destroys the element of entering another world.

But I went along with it. We all just trusted Darren. He was able to do these impossible shots that went on forever, going through hallways and upstairs and downstairs. And we were jumping over cables and hiding behind the camera and coming into camera. It was thrilling.

Aronofsky has said he tried to channel the anxiety of our current times. Is that how the film feels to you?

Yes. Sometimes I have this nightmare where I am trying to warn people around me of some impending doom, some disaster that is about to happen. No one is listening to me. The entire dream is trying to find my way out, trying to convince people. This film feels like that to me. I think its Darren going, Wake up!

There's so much going on. After my editor and I saw the film, we immediately were Googling different biblical references and Dante passages and paintings.


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