How Bette Midler single-handedly saved ‘Freak Show’
Director Trudie Styler also discusses its rather chaotic journey to the big-screen
By Gregory Wakeman
Published : January 11, 2018
Trudie Styler wasn’t supposed to direct Freak Show. But when its original director dropped out at the last minute Styler, who has previously produced the likes of “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” “Filth,” and “Moon,” decided to step up from producer to director.
“Celine [Rattray] and I were always onboard as ‘Freak Show’s’ producers,” Styler told me earlier this week. “We had a director onboard who had to excuse himself at the 11th hour. Happily for me, the producers took me on as replacement director. That’s how I came to be directing it.”
But another problem soon arose because of the extremely short window of time between the original director’s departure and the start of production.
“There was no time. I became the movie’s director and everything was in place to start shooting in September, 2015, and our director went off in July, then everyone is away in August.”
This provoked some of the financial backers for “Freak Show” to become a little nervous. But Styler had an ace up her sleeve to qualm these concerns. A certain Bette Midler, who she soon offered the role of Muv, the extravagant mother of bullied Billy Bloom (Alex Lawther), to.
“I called Bette Midler, we share the same agent, and I said, ‘Can I send you this script? I think it will speak to you. It’s a small role and a vital role. Also, by the way, if you say yes then it will trigger a large part of the finance for it’.”
Even though she had been absent from the big-screen for 4 years, Midler found herself attracted to the part and soon agreed to join production.
“She read it and said, ‘I am in.’ From that moment my summer holiday stopped and we jumped into pre-production. We had 4 weeks to prep. And 22 days to shoot. We just got it done.”
You can see the results from Friday, when”Freak Show” is available on VOD and screening at the IFC Center in New York.
Trudie Styler will be participating in post-screening Q&A’s at the IFC’s 7:15 screening on Friday January 12, and the 4:55 and 7:15 screenings on Saturday January 13, too.