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There have been many adaptations of Daphne Du Maurier’s 1938 classic Rebecca and Netflix is the latest to bring the horrors at the Manderley estate back to life.
The romantic thriller starring Lily James and Armie Hammer from Director Ben Wheatley follows a young newlywed who moves to her husband’s lavish estate, but finds herself battling his sinister housekeeper and the haunting shadow of his late wife, Rebecca.
James and Hammer, along with costars Kristen Scott Thomas and Ann Dowd spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about promoting a film in uncertain times, those comparisons to Alfred Hitchcock’s version of Rebecca and how the movie speaks to a modern audience.
On promoting a film in the middle of a global pandemic, Hammer reassures that “none of this feels normal,” calling it “kind of like this weird tumultuous nebulous time in 2020.”
Adds James, “We shot Rebecca a year and a half ago. It would’ve been so nice for us all to be together again. And also the premieres always feel like such a celebration. It’s so exciting to see the film with an audience so all of that’s gone now which is a shame.”
Hammer also spoke on the inevitable comparisons to Hitchcock. Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 adaptation of Rebecca featured the great Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine in the starring roles and went on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards but Hammer calls it two different things.
“We have a more discerning and a more conscientious and dare I say it, a more woke audience now and they wouldn’t stand for the 1940’s version in fact I bet if you made most people now watch the original 1940’s version they’d be like that’s kind of bizarre.”
And while Rebecca takes place in the 1930’s, James notes that the film is still relevant to modern audiences describing the “power balance between men and women” which still holds today.
“Girls now would probably relate more to the Rebecca character but i think there’s a lot of people too that feel like they haven’t found their voice yet or they don’t know what they’re about yet or who they are.”
Scott Thomas, who plays the mysterious Mrs. Danvers in the film praises Rebecca author Daphne Du Maurier for making the text timeless. “She’s very good at describing the frustrations of being born female, the frustrations that were around in the 1930’s are still the same ones that we have today.”
Dowd, who plays the haughty Mrs. Van Hopper, speaks to how women have often been “kept down as second class citizens.”
“It’s as old as time. I just think it speaks to the strength of women and to the obstacles that have been placed in front of them time after time after time and this twisted behavior that comes as a result of that.”
Rebecca premieres on Netflix Wednesday, October 21. Watch the video above for more.
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Jamie Lee Curtis