As Hysteria hits screens across the UK today, The Fan Carpet's Stefan Pape was fortunate to meet the director Tanya Wexler to discuss her latest feature.
Hysteria is set in Victoria London, about a doctor (Hugh Dancy) who invents the worlds first ever vibrator, in the name of medical science - to help assist women "suffering" from hysteria. However, he has his heart set on the beautiful Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal) - a suffragette with a more pragmatic take on the situation.
The picture is Wexler's first for ten years and she discussed her reasons for finally getting back into film - and let us in on some information about her upcoming projects. She also tells us of her delight at working with Gyllenhaal, and the issues she had getting through airport security, with some "gadgets" from the set...
What were your first impressions when you received the script for a Victoria, period piece about the invention of the vibrator...
There was no script, there was a two page treatment and basically it was my friend just going "I know what your next movie is" and then me going, "what is it? I've been having all these babies and I haven't made a movie in a while" but I was looking for one, and my reaction to hearing about a film about the invention of the vibrator was to laugh very loudly, and I said "I have to do that". I would kill to see that movie and no-one has made it, so I had to make it, just so I could see it!
Were there any hesitancies in taking on what is a quite taboo subject for a mainstream film?
That's the beauty of having impulse control problems. I just didn't hesitate even a bit. There were definitely times later when I thought, wait a second... what the hell am I doing? Including when your on the set and the lovely Georgie Glen has her feet up on the table and Jonathan Pryce is on the other side and you're going... really?
Am I going to hell? But in the end of course not, the film is just a lot of fun and some people are taking it the wrong way and too seriously, as if I'm trying to solve all the problems of gender and equality through the ages. One of my characters is - and I believe in what she says - but I'm just trying to make a romantic comedy that has a little bit more. So I didn't have any issues with the taboo thing, but I have ended up having to face my own line of embarrassment and discomfort which I didn't really know existed. You would not believe to know me that there is one, but that line was definitely shown to me at airport security with 20 vibrators in my hand luggage, which I was giving away.
I had to listen to "Erm.. Ma'am do you have 20 small electrical devices in your bag?" The first time I was like, "I'm a film maker. No, not that kind of film..." and then a couple more times through I've made this vibrator movie, it's supposed to be silly and fun and it's supposed to be about what's the big deal really? After 130 years can't we get over it? So now when I walk through airport security, now they aren't give-aways in my hand luggage... It gets more personal when it belongs to you - but I just pop my suitcase down and I'm like, "Oh, that's a vibrator, you're gonna want to re-run it. I'm sorry". Sometimes they don't even check any more. I've had one security woman say, "Oh honey, sometimes I would kill my boyfriend if I didn't have one - gives me some time to myself".
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE
Hysteria Film Page | Hysteria Review
HYSTERIA IS OUT TODAY