This will be the second film collaboration between Friedkin and playwright/screenwriter Tracy Letts, who also wrote and adapted his play 'Bug,' a film that also starred Ashley Judd. Letts won the Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his hit Broadway drama 'August: Osage County.' Plans are to start work on 'Killer Joe' on Nov. 8.
Considering that Friedkin has previously tackled detectives and corruption (usually together) with 'The French Connection,' 'To Live And Die In L.A.,' 'Jade' and 'Cruising,' one wonders how he will keep the material fresh this time out. "This is nothing like any of those," he told Moviefone. "This is very edgy. It is on the razor's edge. It's been called very violent. I don't think it is very violent, but it's very sexually explicit. It is about a very disturbing group of characters."
"To me, it's like a warped version of 'Cinderella,'" he continued, "in that there is this 20-year-old girl whose mother and sisters brutalized her, and she could find no love except from the prince. In this case, this girl's father and brother are pimping her out and her birth mother tried to kill her when she was a baby, and she remembers it. She finds her prince, who happens to be a hired killer and is twice her age. He's a cop and a killer. The situation is really edgy, but the metaphor to me is a contemporary, twisted version of Cinderella."
Friedkin is no stranger to controversy. 'The Exorcist' shocked audiences with its graphic language and imagery, 'Cruising' drew fire from gay activists due to his dark, explicit portrayal of Manhattan's gay S&M scene in the late-'70s, while 'Rules Of Engagement' was criticized for depicting Arab-American stereotypes. (Friedkin adds that the gay-themed 'Boys In The Band' also drew fire.) It sounds like 'Killer Joe' may join this club.
But the director does not look back at any of his work with regret over its content. "I would only hope that I had done them better," he stressed. "My only feelings about the films that I've made, the only misgivings, are that I wish I could've made them better, all of them."
Does he worry that 'Killer Joe' might be viewed as being transgressive in the way some of his past works have been? "Who cares?" he replied. "I never think about that. I didn't think about it then. I never set out to push anybody's buttons. I only made the films for the most part -- except for the first couple and maybe one or so later in my career -- that I wanted to see. Occasionally what happened is that the public wanted to see them, too. They were in the zeitgeist. I never set out knowing I could do that or that I would fail in doing that."
Beyond 'Killer Joe,' there seems to be a chance that Friedkin will reteam with 'Exorcist' writer William Peter Blatty on an adaptation of Blatty's recent novel 'Dimiter'. Blatty recently told John Bowen of Rue Morgue Magazine: "'Dimiter,' a supernatural suspense thriller set mostly in Jerusalem, is a novel that's been out and around since mid-March. Billy Friedkin is eager to direct it as a film, which would be our one and only other teaming since 'The Exorcist'." No word yet on when this would actually happen. Blatty's next novel, 'Crazy,' is due out next month.
As if all of this activity were not enough, Friedkin plans to direct the opera 'The Makropoulos Case' by Czech composer Leoš Janáček. The production will star Angela Denoke, who worked with Friedkin on his production of 'Salome' in Munich, and be conducted by world famous Zubin Mehta, who got Friedkin into directing operas starting back in 1999. In 2012, Friedkin plans to direct 'Tales Of Hoffmann' in Vienna.