As just about everyone on the planet knows, the late Linda Lovelace will be portrayed by the troubled Lindsay Lohan in the biopic 'Inferno' -- if she ever gets out of rehab and legal trouble.
But the movie's director, Matthew Wilder, remains committed to the troubled actress, despite years of struggling to get the project off the ground. (Anna Faris had been attached to play Lovelace as far back as 2007, but she dropped out in 2008 to focus on comedy.)
Whenever filming does kick into gear, the movie will tell the story of the hugely influential pornographic actress whose seminal film 'Deep Throat' put her on the map nearly 40 years ago and who proved her vulnerability in a horrific autobiography that revealed the true nature of her relationship with one-time husband Chuck Traynor. Forced to perform sexual acts at gunpoint, Lovelace was drugged, beaten and raped -- but she was a survivor.
Moviefone spoke with Wilder recently about his predicament and his decision to stand by Lohan as she goes through what is, arguably, the most tumultuous time of her life.
The film title suggests this may be a re-imagining of Lovelace's story.
The movie is based on Linda's book 'Ordeal,' but I think we add a certain psychological roundness that isn't present in the book -- particularly on the subject of Linda's attraction to, and complicity with, her abusive [first] husband, Chuck Traynor. You'll forgive me the obvious irony that lies in this: If the movie has a question, it is, "Why are people so attracted to things that are very, very bad for them?" That's one of the interesting things about the picture at this point. It becomes a crazy hall of mirrors, reflecting itself to infinity.
Will this be NC-17?
I believe so. Curiously, our financier -- or so I have heard -- is interested in this as an NC-17 or perhaps as an unrated movie. There is certainly no one saying, "Please, play it safe!"
Why are you fascinated by Linda Lovelace, besides the obvious?
What has always fascinated me about 'Ordeal' is not the porn element but rather the very mythic and also very everyday quality of the relationship between Linda and Chuck. We hope we'll draw people in with the "World's first and biggest-ever porn star" lure, and they'll stay for a human drama that is a lot more like 'Scenes from a Marriage' than, let's say, 'Wonderland.'
'Deep Throat' was 1972. Is her story relevant now?
Oh, sure. When I first sent the script out, I expected a lot of people to scream, "This is disgusting, foul trash! I just flung your script in the garbage!" Instead, I took meetings where nice, polite, well-raised girls from Scarsdale in little yellow V-neck sweaters would say, "Oh my god, this is the story of my life."
It would seem that the dynamic between Linda and Chuck, which is addictive and abusive, is a lot more common than pop culture generally depicts. There are a lot of Chucks out there, and the Lindas who love them.
Why Lindsay Lohan?
I really believe that she is a great actor. There is a talent nascent in her that is immense. I spend a lot of time kind of obsessing on '70s stuff, and Lindsay is very, very reminiscent of the best women actors of that time -- Sissy Spacek, Shelley Duvall, Tuesday Weld. She's not like the bubblegum, shopping-mall girls in her age range today. There's hurt and tenderness in her, and a kind of steeliness, a scrap, that recalls those actresses.
She's not built to be some smily Maxim cutie, though she looks that way. And this is an epic part. Not many could pull it off -- it's a grueling 30-out-of-30 shooting days. That's some serious, Daniel Day-Lewis marathon stuff. And one of the things that feels so right about her is, when you see her work on something, she can dive into the darkest, scariest place, then come out of it and two seconds later go, "Hey, anybody got a cigarette?" It's kind of amazing to see someone who can just go there in a snap.
Are there any scenes that Lindsay has concerns about or nixed?
Not that we ever talked about.
Will she be nude?
Have you spoken to her recently, and if so what did she tell you?
A little bit. We talked about actors for Chuck. I think she's a little blue being in a place that's far away from everyone and everything, but I think she's okay.
You've loyally stood by Lohan during months of setbacks and hardships. Do you consider yourself a friend?
Well, you know that line, "A friend helps you move your apartment, but a true friend helps you move the body?" I feel by those lights I am the truest friend in the world.
How long will you wait for Lohan?
If the judge throws the book at her for 100 years, that's a whole other story. But that's not going to happen. She'll finish her rehab and get out and, you know, life will go on. I mean, as much as people obsess about this stuff, there is an end to it. This girl didn't commit mass murder. She will get on with her life. So, in brief: We are doing this with her, we are committed to her, and we are not squishy or fudging about that at all.
When do you start work?
We are prepping now, and casting, and we will go right after she gets a clean bill of health from the judge in February. I know, I know -- what if she doesn't? I think she will. Her lawyer, Shawn Holley, made it very clear to her that if she missteps, she gets six months in Lynwood, without a day missed for overcrowding -- and believe me, that is a vale of tears. Look, she will climb out of the rubble of all this drama and will live and flourish and be great. I know people roll their eyes at that notion, but in my experience that's what people do -- sometimes it takes them a little longer than others.
What keeps your passion for the project alive after such a long, difficult and public journey?
I am a bit of a fundamentalist when it comes to this kind of stuff. 'Inferno' represents a certain kind of movie that is very rare now -- a movie that's sort of an assault on the senses and the emotions, very intense and not pretty. It represents something that as someone who loves movies is what I want to see. You know how the teabaggers want to take America back? I'd like to take American movies back to a period when they challenged audiences and when they let us explore what it means to be a person rather than just take an amusement-park ride. We need this stuff. That's what keeps me in it.
Did you ever give up? Get angry?
Give up? Nah. Come on! Werner Herzog makes movies where cannibals with pitchforks chase him into a live volcano! This is a girl who had to go back to rehab. Big deal! My problems are not that big a commotion, really. Get angry? Sure. The day she flunked the drug test I got really angry. But what are you going to do? People are flawed, they're f---ed up, and that's not a sin. It's not a crime; it just is how people are. Do you think all the great icons of the Golden Age of Hollywood -- you think if you followed them around with a camera back in the day they'd all be choirboys and Girl Scouts? I highly doubt it.
Intense attention will be paid to the project when it starts. Are you prepared for it?
I've been prepared forever. It has taken me about a zillion years to get to this point, dear! I'm ready, willing and able.