Canadian indie darling Sarah Polley sure has a knack for choosing roles. She just appeared as the wife of the world's oldest man in 'Mr. Nobody', and now she's moved on to playing the sorta-mother of a laboratory-created partially-human creature in 'Splice'. But then again, Polley has never been and never will be in the box, and neither is this movie.
Directed by Vincenzo Natali ('Cube'), the film follows two geneticists (Polley, Adrien Brody) as they seek to essentially create new life. The ethically-challenged pair struggles with many life-altering decisions that could end up ultimately disrupting -- and potentially destroying -- their careers, not to mention the lives of everyone around them. At times unsettling and always visually fascinating, 'Splice' is a movie that asks difficult moral questions and never provides any definitive answers. That's up to us.
Moviefone sat down to talk with Polley about ethics, stem cell research, and whether or not this movie has any sort of message.
Canadian indie darling Sarah Polley sure has a knack for choosing roles. She just appeared as the wife of the world's oldest man in 'Mr. Nobody,' and now she's moved on to playing the sorta-mother of a laboratory-created partially-human creature in 'Splice'. But then again, Polley has never been and never will be in the box -- and neither is this movie.
Directed by Vincenzo Natali ('Cube'), the film follows two geneticists (Polley, Adrien Brody) as they essentially seek to create new life. The ethically challenged pair struggles with many life-altering decisions that could end up ultimately disrupting -- and potentially destroying -- their careers, not to mention the lives of everyone around them. At times unsettling and always visually fascinating, 'Splice' is a movie that asks difficult moral questions and never provides any definitive answers. That's up to us.
Moviefone sat down to talk with Polley about ethics, stem cell research and whether or not this movie has any sort of message.
What was it like being a part of this?
I actually had a really fun time. It was a hilarious, insane experience.
Because this is definitely not your average movie.
No, it is not. That's for sure.
I felt like this movie transcended genre. It's not strictly horror, it's not strictly sci-fi. It's not really categorizable.
I think that's what's interesting about it. It's horror, sci-fi, a Freudian nightmare, it's a family drama, it's a black comedy. It's impossible to categorize.
People were laughing in the theater, too. I don't know what kind of laughter it was, either.
[Laughs] Occasionally nervous laughter, grotesque laughter.
There's a climactic moment in the film that was also stunning to see.
That was an amazing moment to watch in the theater. Three-quarters of the audience gasped. A group of teenage boys was laughing and screaming. It was a bizarre experience.
What do you think about Delphine [Chaneac], who so convincingly plays "Dren" ?
She's just incredible. It's such beautiful work, and such difficult work, and I think she did something amazing with it. It's by far the most challenging role in the film. It was great to actually work with her as well; a lot of actors work with a piece of tape on a green screen.
I felt almost hypnotized by Dren's legs. What was up with that?
There was a lot of discussion about those legs. [Laughs]
Would you agree that this film isn't afraid of anything? It doesn't seem to be.
I would definitely agree. It walks so many lines and crosses so many of them. It pushes boundaries so much further than many other movies. Sometimes that's fantastic... and at other times it makes you question the choices made in the film. Like, are the decisions unconscionable? I think that's really interesting too. I think this will be a pretty divisive film – people will absolutely love it, and others will be offended by it. It'll be controversial.
Do you think people will take it to extremes and resurrect the stem cell argument?
That's my fear, in a way. I'm somebody who probably ends up on the side of the spectrum that has quite a bit of faith in science and the intentions of the scientific community. They want to bring about great change in terms of curing diseases and finding ways of treating incurable things. In that sense, this movie is not an example of what may happen; it's an example of the manifestation of our most ludicrous fears of what could happen.
Certainly there will be the technology to do something like this some day, but there are so many checks and balances, and so few people like Clive and Elsa that would actually take something like this into their own hands. Even if they wanted to, who would be able to do it alone? To me, it seems like an unrealistic fear, but maybe I'm just naive.
Did you look into genetics and cloning before starting the film?
I did! I read quite a lot about it before we started shooting. I always think it's a nightmare when you have actors saying science stuff and clearly not understanding what they're saying. I did enough research to get a vague sense of what I was talking about. I worked for a little bit shadowing a geneticist in a colon cancer lab, which was really interesting. One of the awesome things about being an actor is that people actually let you follow them around while they work.
Is being in a lab as science-y and technological as you thought?
You know, it's certainly not action-packed. When they discover something, obviously it's thrilling, but that's usually after many years of work. There aren't many eureka moments, I don't think.
Do you feel like you have a penchant for sci-fi now? A lot of your recent movies have been in the science realm.
It's kind of a coincidence. I feel like I make my judgment purely on the director and on the script. This script was honestly one of the best I've ever read. I tend not to think in terms of genre, and just try to think in terms of quality – like, is this a film I would go to see?
Vincenzo [Natali] must have been some director to have you say that about the script.
He is a really imaginative and enthusiastic guy, and that's infectious. I do think he's a genius, and he's able to create worlds that no one's imagined before.
What would you say is the overall message of this film, if there is one? Don't f--- with nature?
[Laughs] God, no! It would be my worst nightmare if that's what people came out of the movie with, because I actually fundamentally don't believe it... think about the advances we could make, and the lives we could potentially save by moving forward with different kinds of research.
People who already hold those types of beliefs [re. nature] will see this movie in that way, but for me, what is most interesting is that 'Splice' shows the worst manifestation of those fears, and look how totally absurd it is!
So is there a message from this movie? Maybe not.
I think it uses a lot of metaphor – for parenting, childhood, technology, and human beings, but I don't think it has a message per se. It's a film that talks around things as opposed to delivering the fine point of a message.
'Splice' opens on June 4th nationwide.