'The Night Manager' Director and Star Defend Finale's Torture Scene

Domestic violence activists called the scene "gratuitous, offensive and degrading."
Mitch Jenkins/AMC
Elizabeth Debicki
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from The Night Manager finale.]
 
AMC miniseries The Night Manager came to a fiery conclusion Tuesday night when undercover agent Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston) foiled Richard Roper's (Hugh Laurie) latest arms deal, but not before the shady billionaire made one last heinous move. Having discovered that his girlfriend Jed (Elizabeth Debicki) had betrayed him, Roper placed her in the sadistic hands of his henchman Frisky (Michael Nardone), who then proceeded to batter her and force her head underwater.
 
The scene prompted some domestic violence activists in the U.K., where The Night Manager aired earlier this year, to brand it as "gratuitous, offensive and degrading." The backlash shocked Night Manager's director, Oscar winner Susanne Bier, and star Debicki, who saw nothing unwarranted or titillating about the torture scene.
 
"I don't agree with that. Honestly, if I had thought they were right, I would've said it," Bier tells The Hollywood Reporter. "You can't agree with everything, and I think to my taste, there is nothing gratuitous about it. It is horrific." 
 
Debicki adds, "I was really surprised when I heard that reaction. I think it's territory to tread carefully because obviously if it caused offense, I'm deeply sorry that that happened, but it was never our intention. For me, I always think I have a radar for things that seem gratuitous, be it nudity or violence. I think as a woman, as an actress, you have to be very careful about choices you make because they translate, and it's important that you know why you're saying something, doing something. "
 
In fact, both women feel that the brutality of the scene was essential in demonstrating in a visceral way just how cold and ruthless Roper is. "Roper is evil," Debicki says. "He has a strain of evil in him, and for him to treat her like that, for me it's like the final straw. It doesn't surprise me that he does that to her, knowing who this human is. And so it never felt like we were being violent for the sake of violence. There's definitely a savagery to it and it's brutal, and it is shocking visually to watch and obviously that was our intention because Susanne — female director, female actress — was very clear about why they're filming a certain scene."
 
Bier agrees. "It puts Roper in a spot where — if we didn't dislike him already — we absolutely dislike him now because doing that to someone whom he supposedly had loved is just so beyond human comprehension," she says. "It completely made sense ... he needs to get something out of her, he wants information, and that's what Frisky does."
 
Debicki also refutes the idea that having Jed wearing a diaphanous negligee in the scene is meant to titillate. 
 
"First of all, that's what she wears," Debicki points out and adds that Jed's wardrobe is an empowering tool of manipulation. "If you were to ask me about the physicality of Jed that she seems very relaxed and lounging, that's all part of the creation, that's what I was doing as the actress playing her. We had this amazing costume designer Signe [Sejlund], and I think we could've gone one way with Jed's wardrobe, which would've been much more obvious and stereotypical. But I think the way we went, even more emphasizes the idea that everything is easy and flowing and graceful. It's very Grecian. And Signe always wanted to have this idea that her clothes looked like they could fall off any second. And that's sort of part of her allure. She uses that to her advantage.
 
"Second of all, she's just gotten out of bed," Debicki continues. "I don't know who sleeps in a tracksuit with running sneakers on. And they're not going to dress her to torture her."
 
Ironically, fans were outraged when earlier in the series, they were denied the sight of Hiddleston's bare bottom, aka "Hiddlesbum." The sex scene had caused a social media meltdown in the U.K. when it first aired, and Hiddlestoners were similarly vocal, but in protest, to the censorship in the U.S. version of the scene. In response, AMC released the uncut version of the episode for future airings, online and on the AMC app.
 
What did you think of the Night Manager finale?
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