November 27, 2002

Volume 38 Issue 44

By Scott Tobias  


The Onion: Ms. 45 has the distinction of being considered a sort of feminist exploitation film. Do you think that's a fair description?

Abel Ferrara: Well, it was written and made by men, though Zoë [Lund, the lead actress, who died in 1999] was a driving force. I wouldn't belittle the film by calling it feminist. For that matter, I wouldn't trash the feminist movement by associating it with that film. [Laughs.] The movie starred and was about a powerful woman. Same with 'R Xmas. There are so few films you see like that, which depict women who are as mysterious and as beautiful and as powerful as they are in real life.

O: What was your working relationship like with Lund on that film and Bad Lieutenant?

AF: At the time, Zoë was only 17. And pure. [Laughs.] Zoë was a very brilliant, on-the-money chick. Zoë rules. Zoë reigns. You listened to Zoë in five languages. I remember being at Cannes doing the press conference for Bad Lieutenant. Me and Harvey Keitel were just sitting there with our sunglasses on. No matter who the question was aimed at and no matter what language, she didn't need the headsets. She answered the fucking question in the language it was asked, no matter who it was directed to. It finally got to the point where a journalist would ask, "Could Harvey please answer the question?" And she was like, "I'll tell Harvey when he will answer. I'll tell Abel when he can talk."

O: How did you discover her?

AF: After Saturday Night Fever, this genius producer was doing this search for the lead character in a movie called Times Square. Times Square was the follow-up to Saturday Night Fever, and as big a hit as Saturday Night Fever was, that's as big a bomb as Times Square was. They had a million-dollar talent search. They went to every city. They played up the auditions as a publicity stunt, the search for an unknown for the lead role. Zoë came in third. I happened to know the guys who were doing that casting search, and they said, "We've got the girl for you. We can't tell you her name now, but we know they're not going to use her, because she's too whacked for these people. But she's awesome." So for a $60,000 movie, we had a million-dollar talent search. [Laughs.] I can't remember who they finally got for the lead in Times Square... Hold on a minute. [Flips through Videohound's Golden Movie Retriever.] Okay, Times Square. "A 13-year-old girl learns about life on her own when she teams up with a defiant, antisocial child of the streets. Unappealing and unrealistic." [Laughs.] Trini Alvarado, that was the girl they found for the part.


Complete interview at The Onion.