Director neil jordan talks about his haunting new thriller ‘greta’ electricity nightcore

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Neil Jordan is no stranger to the horror-thriller genre. Best known as the director of the acclaimed Interview With The Vampire and writer and director of The Crying Game for which he won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, Jordan has now returned to the film world with gas z factor his truly terrifying film Greta. Greta stars Isabelle Huppert in the titular role of a French piano teacher with a passion for baking, classical music and inappropriate friendships with young women. It’s just as creepy as it sounds.

When naive ingénue Frances ( Chloë Grace Moretz) finds a handbag on the subway, her good-girl impulse is to return it to its owner. She’s recently lost her mother and doesn’t realize that the elegant and sophisticated lady named Greta she returns it to begins to temporarily fill that void for her. Frances’ best friend Erica ( Maika Monroe), is a bit more cynical of the unlikely friendship but it isn’t until Frances discovers that Greta’s cabinet holds several identical purses to the one she found that she starts to get a glimpse of the immediate danger she is in. The film takes a delightful series of dark twists and turns (plus a little cut-off appendage gore) that explore the nature of female friendships, isolation and lost trust. There are no vampires or ghosts here but instead, and perhaps more unnerving, one out of control woman with nothing to lose or gain, just an unhealthy fixation on anyone who leaves and a deep need to connect in a city of millions.

Neil Jordan: I think people believe in promises, you know? You said you’d always be my friend. You said you’d love me forever. You said you’d always be there. People do say those things to each other and the way life goes is they rarely mean them. I can totally imagine somebody taking a promise like that seriously and losing their mind effectively over a period of 10 or 15 years. There was an exhibition I saw years ago, it’s the kind of art that is done in what used gas vs electric oven efficiency to be called asylums. It was a famous psychiatrist who pulled all this art out of people who were confined for what was called ‘madness,’ and I’ve never forgotten one of these pieces of art created by a woman. She was writing “where are you?” It was German, and it was written across an entire series of about 200 pages in the tiniest writing. I thought “ok I understand that feeling and I know exactly what she’s thinking about.” There is something universal about the situation. It’s about promises.

Jordan: The Diabolique, I would say. There’s a movie called Eyes Without a Face, and if I can mention the unmentionable Roman Polansky, there’s a movie he made called Repulsion. Which is really a classic of the genre. It was less Hitchcock than maybe Gothic in a way that Hitchcock never allowed himself to be. I suppose I’m thinking of Fritz Lange and directors like that. I thought it was a fairy tale gone wrong really. So Greta is something straight out of the Brothers Grim really. So the house that she lived zyklon b gas effects in could have been situated in Prague or Bucharest or anything like that. So it was about these European realities stuck in the American context, you know?

Jordan: That’s why I did it actually. That’s why I wanted to make the film because it’s a terribly simple story you know? The fact that it was between two women made it, and I’m not just saying for reasons of, you know, of tapping my hat to feminism or anything like that, it actually just seemed more real somehow. The fact that this monster was female made it a really interesting character I thought. I could imagine that kind of extremity and neurosis coming out of this weird need for contact, you know? Actually, there’s nothing scarier than a sweet, sophisticated lady is there really? I just thought there was something rich to make a rather lean and simple thriller. It wasn’t my script, it was written by a gentleman called Ray Wright. I basically, you know, I’ve loved the hook, and I loved the three characters. I thought there’s alot of irony and psychological depth that one can get into here. I began to rewrite the script a bit when I cast Isabelle, I changed her character. I added a lot of sophistication to it. I introduced the musical theme and kind of made her somebody who had this kind of French persona, which was hiding something dark and Hungarian really. Not that there’s anything wrong with Hungary, I could imagine this dark forest with this strange house that she somehow came from. It’s particularly funny given that Isabelle is a French national treasure, isn’t it really?

Jordan: Well, I’ve always written books. The thing about television, it’s a great temptation, you know? For somebody who is a writer and director like myself, it’s almost irresistibly seductive. The offer to make a 40-hour-movie, I did that with The Borgias. But there is nothing to concentrate the mind like a movie. It’s almost like a piece of music, you know that people who see the movie will sit down in their seats, they’ll have some a gas mixture is made by combining kind of overture, there’ll be a development of a theme, and they’ll leave a couple hours later with a total complete experience of the mind. There’s nothing like that. For me, it was thrilling to get back to that mode with Greta. There’s something about the motion picture that’s irreplaceable I think, you know? Even though I will work in television again, I intend to. The individual movie is like a novel, it’ll never be replaced I think.

Jordan: I think that there are a lot of movies at the moment about supernatural issues, aren’t there? With supernatural kind of plots and other extra-terrestrial plots. I’ve done some of them myself, I’ve done a movie called The Company of Wolves years ago which is about this weird fairytale. I’ve done Interview with The Vampireand Byzantine but what was gas x strips side effects refreshing about this was that there was no supernatural basis whatsoever for the actions of the central character. I mean it was about human beings really. I thought that’s not only refreshing, it’s also quite a challenge to make people terrified of a sweet, sophisticated lady who makes strange little cakes and pours you tea and coffee. It’s kind of a challenge, but it’s a really fascinating one. The film became about confinement. It starts in a city, but it becomes increasingly more and more confined and ends up in a box really. I suppose that’s where we will all end up in the end, isn’t it?

Jordan: I think I sent it to her and she read the script, we wanted to work together, you know? She’s an extraordinary actress really. I generally don’t rehearse that much but what I do is I constantly rewrite things so where other directors use rehearsals to define the character, I kind of talk it through with the actors and I begin to, you know, adapt sense and change them. To find out what’s playing well or not. So I kind of use rehearsal space as a writing space, you know? She seemed to come with every aspect of the character fully formed, even the quieter bits at the very start where she’s just a prosaic, ordinary woman in the park getting a dog. I didn’t see any sinister intent in those scenes at all, she played them straight but actually when she came to do the more Baroque end of things, you realize she’d worked out an arc to the character somehow that was totally consistent, that made sense. I think as a director if you cast a film correctly that’s-I’m never quite sure what director’s do because I’ve never worked with a director (laughs), but for me, it’s about trying to explore o gastroenterologista cuida do que the truth and trying to find the character. Trying to find out where the scene wants to go and make sure it goes there. You want to go on a journey, and you want people to follow you on that journey really. That’s what my relationship with actors is like. Let’s explore the story together and let’s see what we can discover. This was a very difficult film to make because we didn’t have a lot of money, we built interiors and a sound stage in Ireland. It was a movie that 15 years ago would have been made by a studio and it would have been a budget of about 34 million dollars or something but the world isn’t like that anymore. So it was a matter of actually finding out what is absolutely essential to the movie and just concentrating on that.