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Writer-director Darren Aronofsky says he’s unperturbed by the critical backlash to Mother!, his psychological thriller starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem.
“My favorite [criticism of] Mother! is Rex Reed, [of the New York Observer, who] called it the worst movie of the century,” Aronofsky said October 11, speaking to students at Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film & TV. “For me, [that] is a victory. I mean, finally I got to the top of the list. You know, he hated Black Swan [which], was an ugly duckling for him.”
But, he added: “I don’t really read reviews. I try to avoid them. I’m not that concerned about that stuff. The job of the filmmaker is to make the film, and put it out into the world the best way that is possible with the resources you have, and then whatever happens happens.”
Aronofsky, who took part in the ongoing interview series The Hollywood Masters, pointed out how opinion about his 2006 sci-fi fantasy The Fountain has changed. “For a long time, The Fountain was really, really hated and made fun of and stuff, and I think the fans of that one have been the biggest fans of any film that I have had.”
That movie was complicated by Brad Pitt’s last-minute decision to pull out, seven weeks before filming was due to commence. “We were shooting in Australia for rebate,” Aronofsky recalled. “So for six months I was on the other side of the world, and that was the lesson: you can’t really keep a collaboration like that going in a long-distance situation.”
He returned to Los Angeles to persuade Pitt to remain onboard. “I came back to L.A. and he had grown this beard,” he noted — something he had wanted for the picture. “He hadn’t shaved, so I thought, ‘Oh, maybe there’s a shot here.’” He was wrong.
When the movie collapsed, “I retreated to a veranda in New Orleans, and I sat on the veranda drinking gin and tonics, staring out at the graveyard… and then I got a phone call from Sly [Sylvester Stallone]. He was like, ‘What happened? Do you want to come up and see me?’ He just reached out to me, you know, a big muscular shoulder to cry on.” Aronofsky had been developing The Wrestler and now pondered casting Stallone in the lead. “I started to talk to Sly a little bit about that. But as time went by, I realized I was further away from making that script work.”
A transcript of the interview follows.
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