A Cool Chat with Ana-Lily Amirpour and Suki Waterhouse of The Bad Batch
Ana Lily Amirpour invites audiences to go from freshman vampirism to sophomore cannibalism with ‘The Bad Batch’, the latest trip inside her mind.
During her film’s press tour, we caught up with the director and her current muse Suki Waterhouse to chat about her not-so-far into the future post-apocalyptic fairytale fueled by neon lights over desert landscapes.
A new wild west if you will–with a gun-toting amputee who looks for her place in a world without order and maybe finds Jim Carrey as a wandering Hobo-God to guide the lost souls of the Bad Batch. We talked about the film’s inspiration, their collaboration with each other and co-stars as well as just how much we can read into the lush electric and violent conjuring’s of Amirpour’s making.
Ana, as a fan of Girl Who Walks Home Alone at Night, I was really anticipating your follow-up to that and was so down for the tone shift from the nocturnal world of that and going into the sun-scorched world of The Bad Bad Batch. I’m interested to know what sort of inspired you to tell this very different story?
Ana Lily Amirpour: I went to a psychic, she read my palm and said my life is going to be torn apart and that’s what my next movie is going to be about. Nah–I’m just bullshitting. It’s a good story. I don’t know–it is kind of like that though like there’s your own psychic in your mind that’s like ‘What are you feeling?’ for me for the kind of film that I wanna tell. It was this girl just chopped up and couldn’t survive and it was her story and fairytale in a bad, bad world that makes you kinda bad sometimes. How could you maybe try to change that?
Speaking of psychic, a lot of the themes in Bad Batch I felt were very prescient to what’s coming to light in the world right now. When asked to describe to someone what would get a person into or marked as Bad Batch, I joked that’s it’s basically where everyone with a pre-existing condition gets dumped in the post-apocalypse.
ALA: Trump gets away with a second term. Totally, at the same time though three years ago when I wrote it there were these systemic realities in society. It’s not like it’s a flip that got switched and suddenly it became this. These have been there. I think everyone is just on hyper alert.
Suki, when it came to reading the script what was your reaction to this world on the page?
Suki Waterhouse: It was really hard to make sense of when I read the script. It all went from there and came together from bits and bits. We got to hang out a lot before and I kinda got taken into the world. And just did it.
ALA: Could you imagine like for her reading it, it’s like ‘Okay, sawed up leg, page nine, okay now whoa I’m gonna lose my arm–
SW: I was really drawn to how it was going to be about physical exertion and knowing that how it said in the audition that it was going to be difficult. And so it was going to be about that.
Once being on set, did it help you more so be immersed in the world of the script? Did it help you visualize Arlen’s story more to put yourself in there?
SW: Of course. There’s just nowhere to go and you’re alone but then you’re also just bound together with all these people in Comfort. You’ve left your normal world completely. It’s this whole new set of rules.
It looked so amazing and challenging, I really dug how we follow Arlen and see this world through her perspective. Can you both talk about collaborating on creating her and what you wanted to say through her journey?
ALA: We watched a lot of movies together and then like went gun shooting together and then like went to Venice Beach and walked around together. And did lots of rehearsals with Jason as well.
SW: Physically getting around on one arm and worked with the kid as well. Played music and having fun with lights and stuff.
ALA: Played around with lasers in my living room. We did so many things. It’s like one of the joys when you make a story and get to collaborate with someone who you’re really like interested in and fascinated by. And you’re like sucked in together and get to and get to do all this weird fun stuff. It’s like playing, it’s like being nine years old and being like ‘this is a game!’
Jim Carrey’s hermit to me felt like he could be representative to some as almost like this idea of God being thrown out with the lot–the Bad Batch–in a world where corruption and greed have taken over. Yet this spiritual idea, whatever anyone calls it, could still be found in a desolate place where people are eating each other or trying to rebuild. He was there to get Arlen to Comfort and help Miami Man find his daughter. Can you talk about what it was like to create this character with Carrey in all of his eccentric miming glory?
ALA: He’d love that interpretation. Jim is a fire. You just want to be the wind. And blow it in a certain direct direction and let it be fire. And talking about the physicality of the Hermit, we did that together, what he’s going to look like. What he’s sort of looking like after seven years in the desert in silence. Who does he need to talk to? You expend your energy and words become nothing. He’s physically transformed and not saying a word but expressing so much. It’s like you don’t have to do much but you have him. You just let him do his thing. Momoa and he are so–like these forces. Miami Man is so used to like using brute force in a way and it just doesn’t work on the Hermit. It’s almost like a Jester’s joke to him. It was fun to watch the two of them. So different physically too. And that Miami man scene. I’d love to do a mash-up of Miami Man drawing the Hermit when he’s posing and doing the music from the Titanic over it. (Laughs)
Yes, ‘My Heart Will Go On’! Draw me like one of your French girls. Speaking of the drawing, did you get to keep the sketch or walk away with any specific props that were special to you?
SW: I didn’t get my shorts with the smiley face.
ALA: You should have them. I have Arlen’s wallet right here. And I did send Jim the sketch for Christmas. I framed it and sent it to him.
As a filmmaker are you the sort who has an idea for the next thing while you’re working on the present project or do you wait till you’re done with what you’re working on to think of the next project?
ALA: I do it in the edit because I feel like I need my next thing lined up. I don’t like in between time. It’s my least favorite time.
Can share a little bit about what it might be about or is it top secret right now?
ALA: Top secret.
Okay, cool. I’m excited about it though!