The official release of The Beguiled is just days away! Out in theaters across the U.S. on June 30, The Beguiled is directed by Sofia Coppola with stars Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Colin Farrell, Oona Laurence, Addison Riecke, Emma Howard, and Angourie Rice. It is an “atmospheric thriller” set during the Civil War, where a Southern girls boarding school takes in an injured “Blue Belly” to care for his wounds. The house is taken over with sexual tensions and dangerous rivalries resulting in an unexpected turn of events. Though called a remake of the 1971 classic with Clint Eastwood it is very different in that it now shares the story from the point of view of the women in the story.
On making the movie The Beguiled
Elle Fanning: “Besides working with Sofia again, this was a reason for me to be a part of The Beguiled: the women hold the power in this story – even though it is set in the Civil War.”
Sofia Coppola: ” I wanted to do something beautiful, but that’s all I knew. And then my friend told me about “The Beguiled” and said, “I think you need to see that and remake it. And I thought I would never remake someone else’s film. But then when I saw it I knew what she was talking about, that it was, you know, right for reinterpretation.”
How did they learn the finer points of Southern living in 1864? A great deal of research went into the preparation of the story and the performers. They wanted the story to be historically accurate and used pictures and other items of interest from the period to create vision and mood boards. But that’s not all. Research also included cursive writing lessons using a pen that had to be dipped in ink. They also learned how to apply and wrap a tourniquet and rehearsals were conducted in full costume. During rehearsals they also had an etiquette coach and a dance instructor.
Elle Fanning : “I’m from Georgia, so I’m connected to the values that these characters have been raised with. I’m very familiar with ladylike behavior.”
On making the movie different from the 1971 version
Sofia Coppola: “I really tried to forget the other film and just approach it in a new way and I knew that they would bring so much. You know, we try to think about where those characters are coming from and make them human and then, you know, I looked at Kirsten and Elle for their characters to bring their take on it.”
Kirsten Dunst: “I only watched the movie once a long time ago when Sofe was first thinking about remaking it and then I never watched it again and I read the book, well most of Edwina’s parts in the book and I don’t know, I did my own thing. But the woman that played the part in the previous film was really good I thought.” (Elizabeth Hartman)
On their experience working with all women
Kirsten Dunst: “I have, I mean from a very young age, you know. I did “Little Women” and I worked with Sophia when I was 16 so I’ve always had that opportunity, like in ‘Bring It On.’ I’ve always wanted to work with other women. So I think it’s kind of however you navigate your own career and your taste level and what you want to surround yourself with I think comes through in your career. It wasn’t new to me and I just had the best time.”
Elle Fanning: “The last three movies that I’ve done have all been with women directors, Sofia and then Melanie Laurent and then Reed. But I didn’t necessarily choose it specifically
because of that, it just turned out that way that they were making those stories and but it was, it was really exciting. I think for me also because it was on our film there’s so many women at all different ages, which is so great, and it was also kind of strange because I felt oh I’m normally the youngest person on set always, so not being the youngest I was kind of like in the middle, I was like this is weird, they’re going to do, yeah, I’m the middle child. I’ve never been a middle child.”
On working with Colin Farrell
Sofia Coppola: “I didn’t know who could be the man and, you know, he has to be really masculine and he has to be able to be intriguing and charming to, you know, a 12 year old and a woman in her 40’s and if he was just like a cute hunk, he had to be complicated and you’d believe that he could really captivate them.
I don’t know, it was a balance to find so many elements and when I met Colin he was just, he’s so charming, and the character in the book actually was an Irish immigrant so him and his natural accent makes him even more exotic and I just think because he’s so, he’s charming and charismatic and we want him to be sexy and really, you know, masculine in contrast to this feminine world. I felt he fit the bill. But yeah, to find someone that they could all relate and it wouldn’t be, yeah, too creepy.”
Kirsten Dunst: “You know what I just remembered. He was the most concerned about, he was like, ‘I got to lose weight. I got to lose weight.’ He was like living off nuts and seeds and he had to get his weight down. Then then he drove to get a hamburger all the way back to New Orleans from the plantation just to get one hamburger because he hadn’t had any. He was the one that had to show his physique.”
On being a working mom
Sofia Coppola: “They were so proud when I won the director award. They went and told everyone at school. I went to speak to my daughter, my ten year old’s class, and they were all, they were so proud and telling everyone like, ‘My mom won a director award.’ So they had heard about it. It was really sweet. I was lucky that my husband could watch our girls while were filming because I don’t want to take them out of school, but they came and visited, but it was really a lot to juggle.”
“I just appreciate all the support of the people that helped me so that I could do this. Because it’s so intense when you’re shooting a film and now I’m looking forward to getting the movie out and having a vacation and getting to be with my kids and focus on them. ”
Fabulous Facts about The Beguiled
Director Sofia Coppola is the second woman to receive the Best Director award at the Cannes International Film Festival (2017) for The Beguiled.
In order for the girls to forge a bridge between research and imagination, Sofia asked the younger actresses to write daily in character in journals reflecting on their past, the families they were sent away from as well as their present at the school.
Addison Riecke was delighted for the production to take place in Louisiana, where she is from. Her character Marie however was from Mississippi.
Madewood, the property used as a setting for the movie was built in mid 19th century and building was delayed due to the Civil War. It reportedly has walls that are 24 inches thick brick. The owner Keith Marshall describes it as “…one of the most perfect classical Greek revival mansions in America.” It has hosted designers’ collections and music festivals as well as bed and breakfast establishment. It is a National Historic Landmark mansion. And, some audiences may recognize it from Beyonce’s “Lemonade.”
The sole source of protection in the house, Miss Martha’s gun is a Whitneyville Dragoon. It is a .44 caliber revolver manufactured years prior to the Civil War.
The younger actresses became quite friendly. They even went trick or treating together for Halloween in the town they were in.
During a part of the filming, they cast and crew were staying at a nearby Hampton Inn.
Instead of a musical score, nature became the music of the movie with the sound of the insects and the boom of the cannons.
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