Interview with Kimberly Peirce, director of Carrie

Copy Editing and Posting by Alexandra Hidalgo

This review is part of double feature on the film Carrie. Please check out Moira Sullivan’s review of the film.

Carrie has been out for a couple of months and Kimberly Peirce was happy to report recently that the film is now doing well internationally. This interview took place at the Ritz Carlton in October 2013 before the debut of Carrie.

Kimberly Peirce at Carrie preview in Los Angeles.

Steven King wrote the book Carrie, Brian De Palma made the first Carrie movie, and now Kimberly Peirce has made a new Carrie. When I saw Carrie in 70’s, I was horrified by Carrie because she was dripped in blood and yet blood, as we know in the film, signifies a rite of passage for her. It is also connected to women’s insanity, religious fanaticism, and persecution. The update you’ve made on this film is a very female update. What would you say to that?
Well, I would say something that really matters to me. I believe strongly that any good director can do great work so I would never want anyone to be limited by their gender, their sexual preference, their race, religion, anything. I think that a good director is a good director. That being said, I think that all creators, all directors, all writers, everybody has certain life experiences that inform what they do. So if you say it has a female perspective I would say, certainly I move through the world as a female bodied person so I have certain experiences.

One would assume that I have a period. We don’t have to get into my personal life. But let’s assume that I am a female-bodied person and I have that experience.  I am a daughter in a mother/daughter relationship, I have been in the girls’ locker room when the girls are acting mean and they have a particular way of doing that. I also, at the same time as you, look at how I present my gender and live. I am a tomboy. I’m still in the middle, and very open minded to both sides. But if my life experience has given me certain insights into what women go through, then that’s a wonderful thing that I bring to the movie. And particularly, I think the women relationships are phenomenal.

I love the mother/daughter relationship in this movie. I love the relationship that Carrie [Chloë Grace Moretz] has with all those girls that she just wants approval from: “Please let me be accepted, let me be in there.” Even though I have a fiancé, I can identify with Carrie because we all live fictitiously through movies. I can identify with a girl wanting to be beautiful, wanting to wear the dress, wanting to dance with the handsome boy, wanting to have a Cinderella moment, and devastated when it is taken away. Even if I was a man and had a different gender orientation. So what a woman might bring to the film is moving through the world the way Carrie and Margaret (Julianne Moore] movie through the world.

Chloë Grace Moretz as Carrie and Julianne Moore as Margaret

I would have liked to have seen a tomboy in the movie and a tomboy on the athletic field playing volleyball—
Point well taken. You bring up something great. Again, entertainment is all about “real estate.” First of all, I have an obligation to the main characters. I got to go deeply into their stories and make them as real as possible. Then I have to make that story move, so when I say real estate, I only have so much time before I am going to lose your interest. In many ways, Carrie was already a kind of tomboy figure. You had Sue [Snell], you had Chris [Hargensen], and you had all those girls who were gorgeous and feminine and fantastic, and you have Carrie, who is not really the typical feminine.  So there is not really a lot of room for me to add another significant character that is not already a part of the feminine bent because I have to focus on Carrie.

Same thing in Boys Don’t Cry. You know we had another butch character in there. They got taken right out simply because of the real estate of entertainment. I just couldn’t afford to have it and keep your interest. So though I would have loved to have shown a lot more diversity than I could, I didn’t have a lot of room. You even see racial diversity in the film.  I did as much as I could and then I ran out of characters. So it was a very interesting challenge because I love to be as diversified as possible, but I have to service the main character.

Check out Moira Jean Sullivan’s review of the film. You can also visit Moira’s profile and the film’s website.