INT: Factory Girl
I can't imagine a more suitable actress chosen to embody the role of the 60's quintessential pop culture icon Edie Sedgwick, other than pop culture's fashion 'IT' girl of the moment, Sienna Miller. Not only do they share a striking esthetic resemblance but their extraordinary styles have captivated the world and branded them as bona fide, influential trendsetters. What's even more impressive is Guy Pearce's flawless impersonation and uncanny resemblance to the infamous, artistic provocateur Andy Warhol. Miller and Pearce team up as the dazzling Sedgwick and Warhol to recreate the glamorous, intriguing and heartbreaking story of an unusual friendship that sparked a great but brief fire only to burn out too soon in Manhattan during the iconic and reckless period of the 60's, in the upcoming film FACTORY GIRL.
Miller and Pearce immerse quite impressively into their characters and actualize a friendship between two lonely and emotionally scarred people who fed off of each other's fabulousness thus justifying their crave for a fame that fed their empty souls. Fashionista Miller is stunning as the timeless beauty Sedgwick who inspired the Twiggy waif look and the handsome Pearce is quite remarkable in his transformation into the multi dimensional and icy Warhol. Together they were joined by Emmy award winning director George Hickenlooper to talk us about their experiences in making a period film based on a tragic and true story of consequential icons that continue to impact our world today. Check out what they had to say.
|Sienna Miller||Guy Pearce|
Everyone knows about Andy Warhol as an icon in the 60's but Edie's fairly unknown to most people. Why should people care about Edie Sedgwick?
Guy Pearce (GP): That's why people should care because they don't know enough about her so they can actually learn something about her.
Sienna Miller (SM): I mean the way that I see it is that she was really in the spotlight for only two years and she's managed to affect my generation today and there's something really extraordinary about somebody to that kindness. That's why there must be something more to her than being a socialite. I look at her, and some of her outfits and she's so 80's in a way. She was so forward thinking with kind of pre-empting the reality TV that we're so obsessed with today. I just think she was kind of a performance artist. She has a magnetism that Marilyn Monroe has or Audrey Hepburn has but she just destroyed herself.
George Hickenlooper (GH): I think it's one of those inevitable things. I think she's certainly iconic but she's underground figure. I think it's sort of her passion, her need to be loved, her ability to love and shine so brightly in her time, being in the right place at the right time with Andy Warhol. I think people aren't just attracted to her because of her fashion like Twiggy but she's iconic because of the passion she had for life, and her desire to love and be loved. And also that's why I wanted to make the film. I wasn't interested in Andy, I was really interested in the love story.
How does she continue to affect people today?
SM: Well for example John Galiano based an entire collection of Dior on her two years ago. That's like a major house, not that that's necessarily anything but people are so inspired by her and the way that she dressed and danced. She was this figure that was so intriguing and to have that last so long, obviously she had something going on.
Sienna, you have well surpassed your 15 minutes of fame and if Edie was alive today and you were friends with her today what would you say to her and do you think that you could be friends with her today?
SM: It's a hard question because in a way I feel like I am friends with her today because I've been with this project for two years now when we were developing the script and talking about the script and trying to find the money to make the script. I never really thought about it but I find her fascinating. Having read as much as I've read about her, I really empathize with her, why she turned out the way she did and with the right circumstances she could have really become a Marilyn Monroe or something like her. I'd like to think that we would be friends. I feel like I understand her a little bit, I don't know...it's a difficult question to answer.
Sienna, can you talk about he emotional scene at the end when you confront Andy Warhol and if that was a draining experience for you. How did George help you prepare for that scene?
SM: That was a really intimidating scene because that it was actually our second day of shooting of the movie. It just so happens with schedules sometimes work out like that and I was obviously nervous about it. I didn't know anyone. In a way that helped with the feeling of vulnerability and what George has is an amazing ability to do for me is to create an environment that's very safe and trusting so that you feel you have the ability to go as far as you want to go and it's never too far. He's very embracing of an act of journey and he just sort of made me feel protected and reassured and comforted and encouraged constantly. It really helped to be devoted like that because you feel like you want to do well for that person.
GH: Sienna really immersed herself in that role as very emotional. I remember watching the first take and being moved to tears, I mean pretty much everyone on the set was. It was such a challenge for her being the second day and the schedule was very tough and very grinding. It was just about taking the time and making sure that we were both comfortable and that Guy was comfortable with what we were doing. I think that's the best thing a director can do. Given my background in documentaries, it's allowing it to unfold and happen. Both Guy and Sienna were so instrumental not only in rehearsals but also in the process of working on the script substantially and for me it's sort of sit back and watch and try to keep everything in balance.
At the end of the film there were a lot of additions that needed to be made. Can you talk about that?
GH: Basically, this film was very difficult to finance. Holly [Wiersma] and I were very passionate about having Sienna but she's not Meryl Streep so it's not easy to get financing but we were able to get financing with Guy but we were still unable to raise much money. We were supposed to raise $8 million but they kept cutting the budget and underselling. So [Captain] Mauzner and I had to cut pages out and we had to cut out the final scene and so it was always our intention to go back and come to NY and when we were going to do that.
So it was depended on who was going to buy the film and a lot of things. Once Harvey [Weinstein] bought the film, we knew we wanted to go back and also with additional shooting you usually look at the picture. So we had these 10 pages we wanted to shoot and everyone had ideas - I had ideas, Sienna had ideas, Guy had ideas, Harvey had ideas so these 10 pages turned into 35 pages. Then Guy had to become available and Sienna had other movies and they weren't available. This is the truth. I know page six was sharpening their knives and claiming the trouble factor which irritated me. It was irritating for all of us.
SM: We shot this movie in Treeport, Louisiana and we had an incredible production designer but it's not easy to have Louisiana double for NY because it doesn't have as much character so once Harvey came on board and offered us the opportunity to shoot, exteriors here and some scenes in Central Park, it was just perfect.
GH: Absolutely, it was a time issue and we didn't wrap until December 12th.
As a film maker do you operate well under that kind of pressure?
GH: I always work well under pressure but it wasn't just me. It was Guy, Sienna, all of us. It was a very much collaborative effort and certainly Harvey but it was all in the great spirit of collaboration. Harvey was very passionate about the project and very supportive of Guy, Sienna and me. We were working around the clock late on a 20 hr day for three weeks but we just ran out of time you know. It was just time, we ran out of time.
Shouldn't you have just waited?
GH: We could have waited but the perception would be "Oh boy! What's going on guys, where's Factory Girl?" When in fact it was simply filmmakers making a film under an incredible deadline.
Sienna, what did you learn about this relationship between Edie and the musician who were two complete opposites?
SM: Guy, George and I became great friends with a lot of people who knew Andy including Edie's brother and her husband Michael Post and the funny thing is that everyone has different accounts of what happened. You have to remember that this is a period of time when a lot of people were doing a lot of drugs and so they don't remember. I don't even remember that decade. Some people say nothing happened at all and some say it absolutely did happen and he was the love of her life. I was watching The Queen the other day and no one really knows what happened the week after Princess Diana died but people in movies take a crated license...it's a rumor that we've heard from valuable sources is true and valuable sources is not true so I think it was interesting and I think it was actually a beautiful story.
Can you talk about the Bob Dylan issue?
GH: Bob Dylan? Lawsuit?
SM: There's no lawsuit.
GH: I think he was a concerned that his character is portrayed as suicidal which isn't the case at all. I think his character is very sympathetic to Edie.
SM: But it was all exaggerated within the press. There was no lawsuit filed.
GH: Legal letters were served.
SM: And it's absolutely all fine now and Harvey is even producing the new Bob Dylan biopic [I'm Not There] with Cate Blanchett and Heath Ledger. So there's no bad blood.
But Bob Dylan did a screen test right?
SM: He did do a screen test, yes.
Sienna, with your great personal sense of style, how involved were you with recreating Edie's look and did you get to keep any of the the clothing items?
SM: I honestly loved absolutely every single item of clothing and am still battling with the producer to find it because I haven't even gotten a leotard. That's something I'm working on very hard. We had an incredible costume designer, John Dunn who's amazing. We were very lucky to have people that were willing to come on board just because it was such an interesting subject matter so I really didn't feel the need to collaborate at all with such a genius. He collected some amazing vintage pieces and then copied some of Edie's clothes and earrings. So that was great. It was really fun dressing up definitely but I didn't feel the need to intervene at all.
What did you all feel you particularly wanted to put in the film about Edie's life?
GH: Well I think we discovered we wanted to know more about Edie's past and the family. I think we wanted to take a little more time building Andy and Edie's relationship by showing them in Central Park and on the phone.
SM: I mean it's just ultimately that we're making a story where a lot of people say to me "Why Edie? Who cares?" At the end of the day, people see her as a very wealthy girl, from a privileged background who took too many drugs and died at 28. But actually once you understand the psychology behind why she was motivated to become a drug addict and why she is still impacting my generation today, you will understand there is more to her than people presume to be. So I think it's just a question of trying to make her sympathetic and to understand her and also the relationship between her and Andy which was actually a very loving and close relationship for a while, in order to understand the sadness at the end when they kind of fall apart.
Andy Warhol seems to be the villain unlike the Bob Dylan musician character. He seems to be responsible for building her up, exploiting her and allowing her to fall apart. What do you think about that Guy and do you see a love story between them Sienna?
SM: The film opens in the movie something like "someone i the 60's affected me more than anyone" and it was a very fond and loving quote. But then we were lucky enough to have Brigid Berlin who was a great friend of Andy's used to tape all of their phone conversations, and we have certain tape conversations where Brigid tells Andy that Edie died. And I think once you listen to that you kind of understand that I think he really did care is really your question but he had an inability to emotionally attach. When you hear the phone conversation he almost cares then there's a big pause and then he says "Who gets all the money and what are you doing today?" It's very interesting. He has a fear and inability to attach.
GP: Yeah I just think he was somebody who was incredibly sensitive, almost too sensitive. I think you need to look at the film a little more deeply than just assuming that he's the villain I suppose. I think that's a very typical response for audience members unfortunately in this day in age and clearly there's a lot more to the relationship than I was clearly able to portray for you. I think for Andy what he saw in Edie was a number of things. It wasn't just that he was a manipulator, a passive aggressive manipulator.
But that's what the Dylan's character says to Edie, that Andy is exploiting her and that she's not getting paid for anything and that she's just a disposable thing...
GP: Yeah and he doesn't understand Andy very well either. That's just his point of view but not necessarily the point of view of the film. I think that really the relationship goes very, very deep but unfortunately I think because of the personalities of both of these people they were really unable to come and help each other actually. It was a bad time, Edie was really unable to help herself and Andy was rally unable to kind of help her because he was sort of tortured by his own inability to actually become intimate with people that really his fascination with human psychology and really extreme human psychology kind of meant that he was rude to people that came to him who were particularly troubled.
Then on some level I think that really began to rely on him but he made it really safe to claim as far as being able to be that person to rely on. I think Andy on some level ends up being seen as sort of a...I mean, we tend to sort of project myths upon people and I think Andy has unfortunately received a lot of negativity as far as being responsible for the demise of a lot people. I think a lot of those people would have self-destructed anyway even if they didn't join in life. So it's an interesting little dynamic between the two definitely but I think it's a fairly narrow perspective to assume that Andy is the villain in the story.
GH: I certainly agree with Guy. I think he was passive aggressive to some degree but I think he was very much in love with Edie.... Andy Warhol was quoted as saying that "the one woman I ever was in love with was Taxi" which was his nickname for her. One reason I made this film was when I first heard the script idea, I knew quite a bit about Andy Warhol and knew very little about Edie Sedgwick. In fact the only reference I had ever heard of Edie Sedgwick was from a radio DJ Rodney Bingenheimer. What interested me was that when I read this script there was this love story between two people who share the same dynamic in terms of the relationship, not only with each other but also with their families.
They were both estranged. Edie was abused by her father and emotionally estranged by him. Andy lived with his mother and had a close physical proximity to each other but his mother constantly hounded him to get married and have children and Andy was a homosexual. So I think that inability for the mother to accept Andy on his terms, it feels kind of as abandonment. I think when you have two children who are abandoned by their parents, they're drawn to each other because the past is needed to repeat the cycle of abandonment.
This was all deep psychological stuff. In the case of Edie and Andy, metaphors for what's happened to our fragmented culture. We've become so fragmented that the nuclear family sort of doesn't exist anymore so I think there's sort of correlation being sort of a broad term between that and the going exponential rate of entertainment shows and celebrity gossip because you use this as kind of healing medication. I think Andy and edie were looking to be loved and to find love. Andy wanted to be famous but it was more about finding that secure sense of self that he never got from his mother and that Edie never got form her father. I know this is deep but those are the reasons I made the movie. It wasn't because she was a great style icon.
Can you talk about the specific insights you got from Edie's family members and if you spoke to Kyra [Sedgwick[ as well?
SM: I didn't, I actually met Kyra at Sundance. I sort of thought I mean people knew we were making the film and if they offered their advice then I was going to take it but I didn't want to press or force anyone into talking. A lot of people had different accounts of the same events. I think the overwhelming thing that I got was that she was very lonely and had a desperate need to be loved. Everything that she did sort was gotten by futility and vulnerability. I think she did find it hard to exist in reality because reality for her hadn't been a very safe place. Her parent's way of dealing with drama when she was younger was to give her a valium so of course drugs would seem like a natural escape from an unhappy time. But you know overall everyone said that she just was a loving, warm person that just couldn't believe that she just burnt too brightly for this world.
Guy, who did you actually talk to in your research for Andy and what was the most interesting or surprising thing that you learnt about him in your research?
GP: The most surprising thing is that every second person I've come across claimed that they knew him which kind of tells me something about Andy himself. I spoke to a number of people and some in greater length than others. I met with Gerard Malanga and Sam Green was very helpful for us on the film and lots of people were coming down and showing us photographs. Primarily the two people for me really were Brigid Berlin and Vincent Fremont. Vincent worked with Andy from '68-'69 and Brigid new Andy from the early- mid 60's.
[What helped us was] to have access to the recorded phone conversations between Brigid and Andy which got to the point that it was fascinating all the people that we met because as Sienna said, everybody had a different account and different perspective on it. Even the people who knew Andy all kind of have different opinions as we all do with everybody. You'll meet one person who'll say he's fantastic and the next person will say he's horrible. So eventually you have to kind of just let that stuff go because it doesn't actually matter to me what everyone's opinion actually was. What I was trying to do was work form the inside out.
So really what became valuable to me and really got anything out of and worked for myself was the audio texts where you really hear Andy and brigid for hours and hours and hours talking about all sorts of stuff. Just really getting and insight to his emotional direction I suppose and as well as for Sienna you know there were other recordings. So there's all these phone recordings and just hearing the conversation between the two and then hearing the direction of my kike and hearing Andy perhaps get a little bit antsy about something and try to sort of get control again and hearing Edie throwing in a new idea about this film and Andy not wanting to do that.
Just hearing how they respond to each other I think is probably the most vital stuff that we kind of work from 'cause that's the stuff that we're actually doing you know. So it really was a wonderful exploration into their lives through the media and all the various forms of recordings that they had. And meeting everybody and talking to everybody kind of took it out of the mythical and into reality. You know to sit there with Brigid on Christmas day and on Thanksgiving day and all of the days we had luncheons and dinners and just time we've spent with her primarily just as the phone make it realistic rather than sort of mythical you know. I mean Andy's still a myth in a way although he died 20 years ago but it's a really odd experience - a strange experience to kind of play somebody who's sort of recently been around in a way and to still get to spend time with people who were his close friends. It's very odd but it was fascinating.
George, can you talk about the challenges of making a film about such an iconic period that took place back then and did you focus more on the romantic, mythic elements of it rather than the direct reality?
GH: I personally wasn't so much interested in the fear. I mean the 60's was sort of done to death in the movies and I didn't want to spend a lot of time on Vietnam or civil rights. We wanted to allude to them a little bit but not make a hubbub about it because there's a cliche. Jeremy [Reed] is a fantastic production designer and worked mostly from photographs. There's a book called "Life of Andy Warhol" and Guy had it. We all went through it and actually created some of the photographs. We were really fascinated with the composition of those photos and Andy was really different. People considered him as ugly but actually I find him extremely handsome. I mean he had skin problems but in that era he was not bad looking and Guy of course is very handsome in every which way.
GP: Thank you, than you very much. (laughing)
GH: I wasn't obsessed with [the era]..... and the props. For me it was about the character.
Guy, would you be interested in doing White Jazz or a sequel to LA Confidential if they asked you to join in on it?
GP: It's been mentioned to me yeah. I haven't read the script yet and I kind of have to base it on that. It's a difficult question to answer. I ultimately don't feel hugely compelled to revisit a character I played before necessarily but having said that it would purely have to depend on how it was realized I guess.
How do you think the 60's and the political background of the time shaped and influenced these characters and what does it say about today? Is it important for us to look at the film in terms of any similarities with our era?
SM: We all had a different opinion of what was important to each of us about the story. I mean George was coming from a different point of view than I was coming from. I personally think that the 60's played a huge part on the way people were especially what was going on. It was a huge revolutionary moment. It was a specifically liberating time and the whackier you were the more embraced you were. So I think people really pushed the boundaries and I think that was a fed up to Vietnam. I'm fascinated by the 60's, I think it's a wonderful decade and so to me that was very important.
GH: I think it's important you had that point of view regarding Edie because there was something fresh in 1965 about those mottos you know...people were trying to do something exciting and different and that's what it was all about. I personally think the 60's is over-romanticized and for me I thought that the arch of the story really embodied with the 60's was fresh and exciting but it became more and more destructive and self-indulgent. I don't romanticize the 60's. I think it was liberating but I think it was far more corrosive to our culture than helpful.
That's why I think the divorce rate, the familization of our culture, the sexualization of our culture all stems from the 60's. It also turned into a thoughtless, selfish 'I'm okay, you're okay.' I think that's where love fails and the divorce rate...I remember my mom was a political activist and she was always running around with the Black Panthers and the Farm Workers when I was seven years old. I remember a very different view. For her it was all about her saving the world but hey, what about her children you know? I don't jump on the bandwagon but I don't think the 60's were great. I think they were more destructive than productive.
What about your reflections of that period today?
GH: I think ultimately the 60's goes with the idea's at the times kind of what we saw in the French revolution. It was all about the idealized culture and everyone's got their head cut off and turned into a somewhat corrupt republic. I think the same thing happened in the 60's where they idealized Vietnam and then people got cynical and sort of the greed of the 80's was kind of a cynical reaction to the period of the 60' and that's continued to the 90's. Now the world is different. We're completely defined by 9/11 now. Everything that happened in the 20th century is kind of irrelevant to what's going on now.
With Edie's mother saying she had higher hopes for Edie, do you think that the movie is almost condemning the idea of being famous for 15 minutes because what happened in the 60's seems to have mushroomed into a nationalistic pursuit today with reality shows?
GP: I think it's more questioning it rather than condemning it. We never really discussed the idea or I don't feel that we're sort of trying to condemn them. I think naturally in raising the question probably somewhere in the back of everybody's mind they're going "What is it with all this fine culture and reality TV?" We all have a strangely negative feeling about it but at the same time we are all fascinated by it as well you know. For me personally it wasn't really wanting to jump on any kind of position of concern. I was fascinated by them. I'm fascinated by I suppose personally on some level with Andy - probably the side of reality to it. On some kind of level you look at all these films, he turns the camera on, roll and see what you get. But no, I'm not specifically condemning it.
SM: I think that was the period of time and ultimately they wanted to be famous. That's what they wanted. So I feel Edie's problems are far more deep rooted. I don't think fame really played a part in it. She wasn't famous like fame is today. There weren't paparazzi and there wasn't internet. It was on a much smaller and I think she kind of reveled in that attention and admitted it. There was no shame in that but to me there was just so much more that was interesting to me than this love that she had to be famous and commenting on that. I don't even think there were conflicts on it.
GH: I think if you think on those iconic terms, like we're going to make a comment...you're making movies from the outside in, not from the inside out. For us it was about finding emotional interior of characters and try to keep the spirit of the truth. And all that stuff will fall into place on its own. And I think you have to do that in any movie, otherwise you're just kind of looking at it not from the outside in- kind of backwards. If you want to get any kind of emotional truth, you got to get into who the people are and then the actions will follow and then you'll end up dealing with things like famous for 15 minutes. But you start to make comments like that it just becomes didactic and dull.
How does Edie's style affect your style and what were some of your favorite pieces that she wore?
GP: Knickers, you love the knickers (laughs)
SM: I love the knickers, that's it (laughs). The irony is that Edie used to do this jazz ballet and that was her exercise. So everyday she put on her tights and leotards and she danced around her apartment and that's how she kept trim. And then she wouldn't change and so she put a peacoat over the top and go out. And then everyone followed and copied this look so it was a totally inadvertent thing that caught on.
I think I'm really influenced by the 60's in general. My parents were kind of big 60's kids...so I always found what was going on inspiring - hence my flowery clothes I think. I sort of loved every single outfit. I can't think of one thing I didn't love. It was just such an original way of dressing. I've looked at some of the photos of Edie and some of them could be in the 80's you know. that was the genius of the pieces that they were so far ahead of her time and she was so timeless. I love the dresses and all the earrings. People lent us all sorts of jewelry and it was great.
Is it true that you Sienna and Guy would dress up as Edie and Andy and go out in disguise in preparation for the film?
SM: No. one evening we were rehearsing...we were going to go out but we didn't. I mean Guy and I really worked well together luckily and I think it was important the dynamic between these two characters and really compatible in our approach to work and we both felt a huge responsibility in portraying these people. We had a lot of fun discussing the characters and having little phone conversations in character ever now and then. He'd call me up form Australia and I'd be in London and he'd go "Edie it's Andy" [in Andy's voice] and we'd have a lovely chat...and because it was fun and it's an interesting way to sort of get to know people to attempt to improvise.
Is that why all those stories came out about you being possessed by the character?
SM: I think that if you're playing someone that existed, you know you have a responsibility to try and immerse yourself in that character. I think if I didn't do that, I wouldn't be serious about my work. I certainly didn't lose myself, I'm far too grounded for that but I did experiment with attending through the emotions of the person's momentary which is a film of acting I chose to dabble in for this role. No heroine, no. Obviously it's very difficult to feel what she felt. I've never been sexually abused, you know, I do not have a problem with drugs and it's really hard to feel that pain if you've had a privileged upbringing like I had. I'm a genuinely happy person and she is really tortured but as a responsibility to her I tried to imagine what she's feeling at these moments in time and it's acting. It's my job to try and immerse myself in a character.
CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...