The movie scene

Director Kimberly Peirce offers a new side of ‘Carrie’


The sad story of Carrie White, the bullied teenage girl with telekinetic powers, has been told four times: In Stephen King’s 1974 novel, in Brian De Palma’s 1976 film adaptation and in two Broadway musicals, one of which is infamous for being amongst the biggest flops of all time.

So what could a new Carrie movie offer? A female perspective.

“At heart, Carrie is the story of a mother and daughter who are at war because the mother believes her daughter is evil,” says Kimberly Peirce ( Boys Don’t Cry, Stop/Loss), who directed the new film. “But it’s also the story of the gym teacher who becomes a mother figure to Carrie and the story of two girls who torment Carrie and then respond in different ways. One of them wants to get rid of her guilt, so she ends up donating her boyfriend, which is the wrong solution. She should have said ‘I’m sorry’ and gotten to know the misfit. And then there’s another emotionally wounded girl who believes she loses some of her social power at school any time someone is nice to Carrie. So she escalates her attacks against her.”

Peirce, 46, grew up in Miami and says she identified with Carrie, who in an early scene is bullied by her classmates in the locker room after she gets her first period.

“I was always cute, but I was also skinny and tiny in high school,” Peirce says. “I can understand why Carrie looks up to other girls and wants to be like them but knows she’s never going to be that beautiful. The kids in Miami are amazing-looking. On Facebook, I’m friends with all my former classmates South Miami Jr. and Senior High, and it’s hilarious. I look at their pictures, and they’re all gorgeous!”

Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie received Oscar nominations for their portrayals of the terrified daughter and her fanatical mother in the 1976 movie. Peirce, who consulted with De Palma before she started filming, decided to take a less operatic approach with the performances and cast Julianne Moore to play Mrs. White as a dangerous, self-hating loner and Chloë Grace Moretz to play Carrie as a sort of adolescent superhero who wants to be loved and accepted and will do anything to achieve it.

“With her period comes the power,” Peirce says. “We looked at over 100 girls from all over the world. What I found interesting about Chloë is that she is very confident and very strong and has a family that loves her very much. In a lot of ways, she was the opposite of what I needed from my Carrie. So we rolled up our sleeves and transformed her, breaking down her confidence and success and privilege so that she could inhabit the character. And Chloë, who has a phenomenal relationship with the camera and understands everything about lenses and lighting, created this odd, human monster before our eyes. She clicked with the role in a way other actors might not have.”

“Kimberly wanted to know what made me tick and why I thought I could be Carrie and what I could bring to it,” says Moretz, 16, about her initial sit-down with her director. “That can be a terrifying question for a lot of actors, because everyone doesn’t always prepare all that well for that first meeting. But I go in with all my notes and ideas on the character. I tend to think about the role a lot before I go in, so I was able to answer the question pretty easily. Then, within the first two hours, she had me crying!”

Although the new Carrie is more faithful to King’s novel than the 1976 version, Peirce says she wanted to bring the story into the present and modernize it for a generation weaned on smart phones and YouTube.

“King’s book was ahead of its time, but you still needed to put it into the modern world,” she says. “Today everyone is constantly taking pictures and shooting videos. It’s not enough for us to experience something: We often feel obsessed and compelled to record ourselves. I talked to a lot of teachers and principals about what the biggest issue with school bullying is today. They said that while five years ago kids might have recorded something, today they also upload it and the video ends up on the Today show. Teachers are scared of these things going viral, because they could get into trouble. Anytime we record something, it’s forever there to be used again. That’s one of the changes I made to the prom scene. What’s the biggest way to hurt Carrie? I knew the blood dump was iconic, but I wanted to give my audience something more — escalate the humiliation and make it even worse for Carrie. Because you need to really root for her to get back at her tormentors or else the movie doesn’t work.”

Rene Rodriguez

Read more People stories from the Miami Herald

  • As seen on TV

    Peter Funt and Mayim Bialik keep ’em smiling on TV Land’s ‘Candid Camera’

    Before prankster hidden camera shows like Punk’d, The Jamie Kennedy Experiment, Practical Jokers and even America’s Funniest Home Videos, there was the grandpappy of them all: Candid Camera.

  • Celebrity birthdays on Sept. 1

    Comedian-actress Lily Tomlin is 75. Singer Archie Bell is 70. Singer Barry Gibb is 68. Talk-show host Dr. Phil McGraw is 64. Singer Gloria Estefan is 57. Singer-musician Grant Lee Phillips (Grant Lee Buffalo) is 51. Country singer-songwriter Charlie Robison is 50. Rap DJ Spigg Nice (Lost Boyz) is 44. Actor Scott Speedman is 39. Rock musician Joe Trohman is 30.

Andre 3000 of Outkast performs on stage at Wireless Festival at Finsbury Park on July 6, 2014 in London, United Kingdom.

    In the spotlight

    Andre 3000 of Outkast channels Jimi Hendrix

    Since April, André 3000 has been on the road, traveling from festival to festival with his old partner Big Boi to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut album as Outkast. And on Sept. 26, he’ll star, under his original name, André Benjamin, as Jimi Hendrix in Jimi: All Is by My Side, a biopic about the year just before Hendrix’s breakthrough, when he moved to London, underwent a style transformation and squared off against Eric Clapton.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category