Marie Claire UK - 10.2019

(Axel Boer) #1


AsJames Frey’s controversial bestseller
A Million Little Pieceshits the big screen,
directorSam Taylor-Johnson tells
SophieGoddardwhy she and husband
Aaron Taylor-Johnson took it on

Howwas it writing the script with
and directing your husband?
Well,we intended to hire a writer, but
thought we’d get some scenes down
while we were waiting for someone to
be available. The dates kept getting
pushed back and we would write
another scene then thought, ‘We’re not
handing this over, we’re almost there!’
Aaron is very structural in his thinking
and I’d go off on a tangent, so somehow
we’d meet somewhere in the middle.
You last worked together on
Nowhere Boyin 2009. How was
it working together this time?
The stakes were higher with this
because we’d written and produced it.
Nowhere Boy was my first film and



The book came out in 2003,
so has the movie been in the
works for a long time?
Yes, I kept hearing news of which
studiobought the rights then ten years
wentby and it still wasn’t made. I heard
therights had reverted back to James
Frey so I emailed him and 20 minutes
later he called and said, ‘The rights are
yours if you want them.’ I paid him
a dollar. He said, ‘I just want the movie
made,I don’t want money or input, just
goand create art in the same spirit
I wrote the book,’ which was incredible.
Howinvolved was he?
Hesaid, ‘I’ll be as involved as you
wantme to be.’ It was amazing to be
givencreative licence to just run with it.
There was controversy around
the book [Frey was found
to have fabricated parts and
a legal settlement saw his
publishers provide refunds].
Wasthat a consideration?
We treated it as three separate things

  • the book, the controversy and
    the movie – and the movie isn’t
    a documentary, it’s a film, a piece of art.
    How hard was it condensing the
    book for the big screen?
    There was a lot of juggling – proper
    independent film-making at its best.
    It really makes you think creatively
    on your feet, and I hadn’t done that
    in a while. I had that privilege with this,
    whichhas been denied me in other
    spaces, so it was truly exciting.
    Is it true you shot the film in
    just 20 days?
    Yes, and we shot it on such an
    extremebudget, it was a wild ride.
    But it made everyone – Billy Bob
    [Thornton], Juliette [Lewis], Charlie
    [Hunnam] – a really tight community.

I learned a lot but with this
one, Aaron had to wear
three hats – producing,
writing and acting – and
I was juggling, too. It was
complicated but amazing.
You and Charlie
Hunnam were set to
work together on Fifty
Shades and it didn’t
happen. Were you
delighted to secure him?
It was fantastic. When we were writing
it,I kept thinking, ‘Charlie would be
perfect to play the brother.’ He read
it and said he’d love to. He’s so soulful
and that really comes across in this.
I don’t think I’ve seen him play
something so soft and nurturing.
Do you have advice for women
trying to break into the industry?
If somebody says ‘it’s impossible’,
you’ve got to kick that door down
and just get in there. There were times
I’d actually doorstop people at
work, saying ‘You have to consider
me’ because I couldn’t even get
meetings. Even the success of Fifty
Shadeshasn’t changed that.■
A Million Little Piecesis out on 30 August

(above), and on
set with Aaron
Taylor-Johnson and
Billy Bob Thornton
(left, top) and
Juliette Lewis (left)
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