The master of the erotic thriller talks Deep Water, his long absence, and working with Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas.
Absent from our cinemas for 20 years, British director and master of the erotic thriller Adrian Lyne is back. He tells us about his new film Deep Water and its literary origins, working with Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas, and sex scenes both on the big and small screen.
LWLies: You’ve made many amazing films that people still love: 9 ½ Weeks, Fatal Attraction, Jacob’s Ladder. You were well entitled to take a break or even retire and do nothing else. But you came back with Deep Water. Why now?
Lyne: Well, I was living in Provence in the south of France. It’s very difficult to come back from there, to be honest. I mean, I was writing, I was working on projects that didn’t work for whatever reason. So I wasn’t doing nothing. And then I read the novel Deep Water and I love Patricia Highsmith’s work. But the novel is set in 1957, so it felt a little bit dated, sort of parochial. It was about a man and his wife who was fucking around endlessly.
What I tried to introduce into it was a sort of complicity between them, so that you almost get a sense that she’s doing it for herself, but also for him. For example, at the beginning of the movie, he’s looking outside into the garden, where she’s gone with her lover, and he sees her through the window. She looks up to the window, and it’s almost like she knew he’d be there. Then I think what’s interesting is that she doesn’t stop what she’s doing, but rather goes back to her lover. Straight away, you know that this relationship is strange and different.
The casting of Ben Affleck is interesting. In Gone Girl, he already played a similar part in a deconstruction of a fairy tale, and more generally of heterosexual, married relationships.
I wanted to make him more vulnerable than I’d seen him in the past. I’ve always seen him as kind of outgoing and ebullient, and what I wanted to make him was almost childlike, somebody rather quiet. At times, Ben would say, ‘It’s not in my DNA to be like this,’ but I think it was. I was proud of that. There’s a scene, for example, where they’re back home after a party, and he’s behaving as if he can deal with her behaviour, but within 30 seconds, he’s making a move on her. Then she rejects him, and you can see that he’s devastated. I think it’s interesting that there are two sides to the man.
How much freedom did you give your actors? You show a different side of Ben Affleck, but at the same time, there are things he does in the film that I don’t think any other actor could have done.