Lucky McKee’s film, The Woman (2011), is a masterpiece. Gritty, raw, violent and disturbing, it leaves you feeling dirty, like your body is covered in grime and sweat. You can smell it, feel it, taste it. So when I heard that The Woman herself, Pollyanna McIntosh, was directing the sequel, Darlin’ (2019 – read our review here), I knew I had to see it, and I was hopeful it would bring a new audience to the original at the same time. I was lucky enough to speak with Pollyanna, and we talked about Darlin’, her career, what inspires her, and, of course, horror movies.
PopHorror: Hi Pollyanna! Thank you so much for taking the time today.
Pollyanna McIntosh: Of course. Thank you for supporting the movie.
PopHorror: Absolutely. I saw it at the Phoenix Film Festival. It was the first thing I saw, and the only one I went to see.
Pollyanna McIntosh: Oh, I appreciate it!
PopHorror: What made you want to return to The Woman to make a sequel?
Pollyanna McIntosh: Well, it was really about the producer of the previous two films coming to me and saying, “Would you be interested in directing a sequel?” How could I possibly pass that up? And then it was the case of me saying, “I’d really like to write this.” I’m going to direct it because you live with a film for a long time, and I wanted it to be as personal, and to be as thoroughly invested in it, as possible.
PopHorror: How did it feel to step back into the character The Woman after almost a decade?
Pollyanna McIntosh: She’s a delight. People often asked me after we shot The Woman, saying it must have been a difficult film to shoot. Indie film is always challenging, and it’s a very challenging thing on paper to be kind of chained up in the basement for most of the movie. But because I knew we were getting it, and because of the character that she is… It’s such a unique one where she doesn’t feel the way in which people feel because of these societal constraints that she’s not privy to. She’s very free. She’s very focused and single-minded and makes no apologies for herself. So, she’s a pleasure to step back into.
All of the research I did to play her in The Offspring, and then again in The Woman, meant that it’s a joy, especially when you’re directing. You want to be focused on directing as much as possible, but to work with a character like that while directing… it was kind of easy, you know? Kind of easy for me, especially having written it. I knew all the intentions were very clear in my mind already.
PopHorror: Having written it, directed it and starred in it, what was your favorite part of filming Darlin’?
Pollyanna McIntosh: Gosh! The first that comes to mind when you ask that question is being in charge of such a wonderful, talented cast and crew, collaborating together to get the absolute best out of everybody, for them to be wanting so clearly for my vision to come to life, and to see that happen. I really enjoy working with people in that respect. Sort of leading a team, but getting input from so many talented people. Just loved that element of it. And also working with Lauryn Canny. She’s such a talented young actor, and so much fun as well. So focused, yet this is her first lead, so there was trepidation in places, too. Working together like that and knowing we were getting it was an absolute joy. It reminded of working with Lucky on The Woman.
PopHorror: She was very good portraying communication without much dialogue. It takes a lot of talent to pull that off. That really stood out to me. Who inspires you?
Pollyanna McIntosh: Oh, gosh. Kind people with patience inspired me.
PopHorror: What makes you want to keep going?
Pollyanna McIntosh: I’m a storyteller. That’s just who I am, and I’ve always been that. To do it through cinema is, by far, my absolute favorite way to do it. I can’t see that ending any time soon. I expect to continue. What inspires me is having been a kid, a teenager and then an adult watching films and finding comfort, inspiration, and a sense of community outside of what’s close by, to connect with characters in films and hope that it’s inherent in cinema the difficult issues you can deal with and bring people together. I think that’s what does it for me, which is probably why being a director fits me so well, because you really are all in the trenches together. You’re in charge of making sure that everybody can do their best work and are happy and knowing that, in the end, it’s for the audience. I find it very inspiring working with people in that way.
But as far as actors are concerned, it seems obvious, but Meryl Streep is a killer actor for me and the best. I think her humanity shines through while she plays very difficult roles. I think Laura Dern is the same way, as well. I like her bravery. She’s not trying to be liked in the roles that she plays. She’s trying to be honest, and that’s really inspiring. She sees the grey areas of characters that might be considered bad guys otherwise. As far as filmmakers are concerned, there’s a lot, but Shane Meadows, Sean Baker… They really inspire me, those two guys. The woman who made Lovely And Amazing (2001), Nicole Holofcener. She’s a very humanist filmmaker who deals with different subjects and difficult people and does an amazing job at it. She’s very inspiring.
PopHorror: What are some of the challenges you feel that women face in the industry today?
Pollyanna McIntosh: I think, like everywhere else in the world, we’re still living in a world that’s seen a hell of a lot of history of men in charge, and I think a woman in charge is still something that people are trying to get used to. I think that’s challenging. I think that there’s an obvious objectification of female characters throughout cinema that, even outside of the industry, when you say the word “actress,” it conjures up all sorts of thoughts in people’s heads that aren’t necessarily true. There’s inherent sexism in the business, but there’s inherent sexism in the world. I think that we’re moving forward, but it’s something that we really need to stay on top of to ensure that people are reminded that it is relevant to tell the story from 51% of the population’s perspective as much as from the male perspective. Just that trust for people to let women lead is still an issue. We’re not going to stop anytime soon, so I have high hopes for the future.
PopHorror: We’re going to keep going! If you could collaborate with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
Pollyanna McIntosh: Oohh, that’s a good one. Just the one, eh? You bugger, what a great question. Okay, if I could collaborate with absolutely anybody living or dead… gosh. Imagine having Nina Simone do your soundtrack? That would be cool as fuck. If I could direct Meryl Streep, that would be something else. Wouldn’t that be super cool? Who else, who else… I would have absolutely loved to work with Audrey Hepburn. I think she’s a phenomenal character. And the great dancers, you know? Rita Hayworth, great dancer and actor. I would have loved to work with her. I think she’s astonishing and kind of underestimated in how truly talented she was. Her capacity really had a great breadth. That’s a few, eh? I’d love to work as an actor with Shane Meadows or Sean Baker as well, because I have a keen sense of their collaboration and experimentation, and their finding what works on set and in the edit is quite amazing.
PopHorror: What do you have coming up next?
Pollyanna McIntosh: I just finished post on a film called Getting Away From It All, which is a part of a feature called Deathcember. I made a five minute short for a film called Deathcember, which comes out at Christmas, and is a horror anthology. I’m in good company there with 23 other directors who also made shorts to go in the feature. That was really joyful, and, like I said, that’s coming out in December. I’ve got a show called Lodge 49, which I’m in, and again is a great cast. That’s on AMC and comes out August 12 for season two. I’m in throughout season two. Season one is available on Hulu and AMC just now. It’s a great show. And then I’m attached to a couple of projects towards the end of the year, neither which I can mention just yet. A couple of different features I’m preparing to hopefully finish. I made a 35 minute short called Perfect, which is a dark comedy about a comedian living in LA, whom I play. I’m looking to get the funding together to finish that feature. Hoping that can be in October.
PopHorror: I’m a huge fan, so I’m definitely very excited to see what you have coming up for us.
Pollyanna McIntosh: Thank you very much!
PopHorror: I just have one last question: what is your favorite scary movie?
Pollyanna McIntosh: It’s probably still Rosemary’s Baby. Despite Polanski’s reputation, as far as watching a horror film and feeling the female experience so strongly in it, and feeling the true horror that Rosemary’s Baby has. I feel like Rosemary’s Baby is about the Devil taking over a woman’s body. I feel that Darlin’ about the church taking over a woman’s body, which I find far more scary and far more possible right now, especially in this country.
Watch Darlin’ now!
Thank you so much, Pollyanna, for your time. Be sure to check out Darlin’ on DVD and Blu-ray on September 3, 2019. It is available to stream now.