Darren Aronofsky on 'mother!': "We Knew It Was Always Going to Be an Assault of the Senses"

"If you read any paper of record and you actually look past the headlines, what happens in any A section of a newspaper is a lot more messed than anything that's in my movie," the writer-director said of his divisive film during THR's Writer Roundtable.

When asked about his latest film, mother!, on The Hollywood Reporter's Writer Roundtable, writer and director Darren Aronofsky said he always knew the movie would be divisive. 

"We knew it was always going to be an assault of the senses," explained Aronofsky. "Then again, if you read any paper of record and you actually look past the headlines, what happens in any section of a newspaper is a lot more messed up than anything that's in my movie. But I think once you put it into a house and you put movie stars in front of it that you're empathizing with, it's a different level of intensity behind it. We knew it would be all over the place and a big explosion, but we were excited about that. We were excited to make a film that would have conversation and that would have big debate."

Alongside Aaron Sorkin (Molly's Game), Jordan Peele (Get Out), Emily V. Gordon (The Big Sick), Anthony McCarten (Darkest Hour) and Fatih Akin (In the Fade), Aronofsky also discussed what it was like handling criticism, especially with mother! which a received the infamous F grading on CinemaScore earlier this year.

"My mentor Stuart Rosenberg always said, 'Bad reviews hurt; good reviews are worse.' And I sort of live by that," he told the group. "In today's world — because of just how connected everyone is — you can't escape information coming from different places and bombarding you, so I have a sense of what's going on. It doesn't upset me; it excites me."

He added that the films that inspired him were the ones that always kept the audience talking and debating one another. "The fear for me is to be a disposable piece of cinema that's like a McDonald's meal and the wrapper goes into the trash."

During the discussion, Peele praised Aronofsky's approach to filmmaking, specifically the ability to make stressful and uncomfortable situations still entertaining for the audience.

"Rule No. 1 is that you don't bore an audience," Aronofsky said. "Even if they're enjoying themselves or they're off, as long as they're engaged and they're with the character and they're following the plot and not staring off into space or thinking about their second screen — that's our goal."