Explaining its fairy tale derivations, Bright explains that
"the whole thing really came out of laziness. I had all
these great characters that I wanted to show off and get them to
do their thing and show that world. I already had a ready-made
plot in Little Red Riding Hood, so why not do it. Then I thought
I would just sort of do it and follow it myself but not have any
reference to Little Red Riding Hood, and people might not even
notice. But it ended up being much more true than I had
originally thought it would be."
Reese Witherspoon is astonishing as a sexually abused teenager
whose mother is a prostitute, whose father is a drunk and lech.
So when the parents end up being arrested, she heads off in
search of her grandmother. The 'big bad wolf' in the picture
turns out to be a psychologist (Kiefer Sutherland), who gives her
a lift, but turns out to be a serial killer-cum-rapist who preys
on young women. The abused teenager discovers that she has more
balls and a killer instinct than she ever thought possible, and
the roles become unexpectedly reversed, with chilling results.
"It's a relentless
downer to play a scum-bag for week in and week out."
It's a tough film, often intensely violent with some of the
most graphic language seen in mainstream American cinema. So it
was never going to be an easy film to finance or to cast, for
that matter. "Before Oliver Stone's involvement, it was
really difficult to get ANYBODY into it to get the movie made.
When Oliver came in, they liked it because it was fun
stuff." The toughest part to cast was the villain of the
piece, ultimately played by Sutherland. "Most actors are
resistant to that type of role; they like to play something kind
of heroic. It's a relentless downer to play a scum-bag for week
in and week out."
Freeway caused considerable controversy when it opened in the
states, and had to be cut in order to receive the more palatable
R-rating. The controversy surrounding the film did not come as a major surprise to the director. "It's so much a product of
me; it's what I've gone through my whole life. It's very hard for
me to fathom the reason for it." But Bright also concedes
that their may well be parallels between the censorship
controversy endured by the film, and his own experiences.
"Whatever it is that somebody might find offensive in the
film, they seem to find offensive about myself, or other things
that I write. I wrote this script for the people that it
portrays, and those people are never on censorship boards."
"Sequel to Freeway:
based on Hansel and Gretel, but the Hansel character is now a
Bright began his career as a screenwriter, and ended up
directing Freeway, which he always wrote, "because it seemed
the logical thing to do at the time." The film was
considerably successful, and has won numerous prizes in the
Festival circuit, the latest being Korea. "And a result,
I've now discovered Asian cinema", and so his next film,
just to be different, will focus on Pol Pot told from the
perspective "of the 12-year olds who made up his army. It's
a fascinating story." He's also written a sequel to Freeway,
based on Hansel and Gretel, but the Hansel character "is now
a woman, so it's going to be a story of teenage Lesbianism."
But no sex. "I don't want to put any sex in my movies until
I've discovered the extremes of love and passion. Then the movie
I do would have to be pornographic, since I believe in going all
the way." The mind boggles!