Darren Aronofsky wants to make you uncomfortable with 'mother!'

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'We had to create this circus and this insanity, so it was a lot of fun,' the filmmaker says.

Darren Aronofsky wants to remind you: “mother!” is a horror movie.

The writer and director of the film, which stars his girlfriend, Jennifer Lawrence, already has divided critics. Lawrence plays a woman fixing up the house she shares with her husband, played by Javier Bardem. Unwanted visitors arrive and things take a turn for the seriously weird and genuinely disturbing.

Aronofsky, whose films include “Requiem for a Dream,” “The Wrestler” and “Black Swan,” is no stranger to challenging audiences, but he’s gone farther this time. He talked recently about the process of making the movie.

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Question: How close is what we see on-screen to what you saw in your head?

Answer: Look, filmmaking is a process, very much like sculpture, where you start off with a block of clay and you slowly work at it, the longer and longer it takes, and it really doesn’t take form until you’ve finished the sound mix. You have an intent of what you’re going to do when you attack that clay, but you’re working with a lot of different types of artists and a lot of different types of craftsmen, and it takes a long time. You have to use all the resources you’re given to turn it into what it becomes.

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Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem star in "mother!" (Photo: Niko Tavernise)

Q: Where did it come from?

A: It came from a restless place of frustration, living in this world where these devices in our pockets are constantly buzzing with crazy, crazy headlines over and over again. Seeing the limits for the first time that our family can handle, I really wanted to kind of tell a story from not your mother, not my mother, but our mother, the mother that gave us all life here, on this planet. I wanted to tell her story, and show a reflection of that to an audience.

RELATED: Dark, daring 'mother!' is hard to describe but worth seeing

Q: For all the weirdness, it seems personal.

A: Yeah. I mean, I think everything I’ve ever done is personal. That’s sort of the only way I know how to get out of bed and make these movies. They’re stories that come from inside, and I just get very excited by them. Filmmaking is a struggle, always, and lots of people are always saying no to you, and you’ve got to have some passion to get out of bed and get them made.

Q: Compromise necessarily is part of it, right?

A: There’s always challenges that rise up, and you have to figure out the best decision to make to solve those problems with the resources you have. You never get everything exactly how you want it. You sort of make the best decision with the sources you have in front of you.

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"I think everything I’ve ever done is personal," Darren Aronofsky says. "That’s sort of the only way I know how to get out of bed and make these movies. (Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

Q: You wrote the script. Do you lock it in before shooting, or do you still write while you’re making it?

A: Sometimes there’s some writing to be done, but most times I try to figure that out beforehand. This film was written in a really, really strange way. It was written very much as a fever dream. It was written over five days, and then there was a bunch of development that happened afterward. But that spirit of those five days, I think, is the spirit of the movie.

Q: What’s typical for you?

A: That’s very atypical. Most of my films have taken many, many years to develop. “Black Swan” was a decade. “Noah” took 20 years. “The Fountain” was six years. It takes a long time to make these movies, usually. I was always jealous of singer-songwriters who could write a song in an afternoon. I sort of wondered what would happen if I captured one emotion and followed it through to its end.

Q: Did you like that process? Was it more satisfying?

A: It was a different way of doing it, and I think it’s important to shake things up to keep it interesting.

Q: It has to be frustrating, taking that long.

A: Sure, sure. That’s part of the process. Getting it done is just part of the process. The work is very rewarding. So you just keep working and eventually the product comes out and is released to the world.

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When the director is a star: Darren Aronofsky signs autographs for fans during the Deauville American Film Festival on Sept. 8, 2017, in France. (Photo: Francois Durand/Getty Images)

Q: With all the reports of you and Lawrence dating, those are some pretty tough paces you put her through.

A: Well, we weren’t dating during the making of the movie. It was just, you know, what the role required, and she was brave enough and bold enough to take it on. You know, Jennifer Lawrence is fearless, and it was an amazing thing to watch her undertake and transform. To me, just seeing her do something she’s never done before, like she does in this movie and how surprising she is, just shows you the immense potential of her talent.

Q: There’s a lot of talk about the movie already. Do you pay attention to that?

A: Well look, we knew we were making something controversial. You’ve got to remember, this is a horror film. The problem is it’s with big, big, big movie stars, so sometimes people are expecting something else. This movie is supposed to thrill and scare people, and it’s for that world. The performances are, I think, incredible in it as well. But it’s supposed to be a disturbing movie, and there are going to be people who are expecting to see Jennifer Lawrence as they’ve always seen her, and they’re going to see something very, very different. It’s for audiences who want to hopefully see something different.

Q: Bardem is awfully good, too.

A: Yeah, he’s fantastic.

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The "mother!" team in Venice: Darren Aronofsky (from left), Michelle Pfeiffer, Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem attend the Venice Film Festival on Sept.5, 2017. (Photo: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

Q: The path of the movie changes along the way, a lot.

A: For me that’s fun. I’m very gullible when I watch movies. Often I’ll be with people and they’ll lean over and tell me what’s going to happen and it (annoys) me. I can guarantee you, this movie can’t be ruined for you. It definitely takes its own road trip.

Q: It seems to be about one thing, then another, then this other thing.

A: Look, I definitely have an impression of what it’s about. I’ve talked about it a bit. I very much wanted to show the spirit of the planet and give a reflection of that. But definitely it’s turned into something else, and that’s what happens with all movies, and people can read into it in many, many different ways. Obviously a lot of those reflections do work out well, because I was just trying to reflect on how people are, and how people treat their home.

Q: You referred to it as a fever dream. You capture that visually. Without giving too much away, it gets pretty chaotic at the end. It seems like a massive undertaking.

A: Definitely. Technically it was one of the hardest things I had to do. And it’s interesting because it was limited within the eight walls of this octagon-shaped house. Within that we had to create this circus and this insanity, so it was a lot of fun. It gave us great boundaries to work with, but within those boundaries we tried to show the entire universe.

Q: It makes the audience uncomfortable. Presumably that’s the idea.

A: I want people to be tense through the movie and have an intense ride. It was always about building a roller-coaster ride that was very intense.

Q: That’s what horror movies do.

A: That’s exactly what they do (laughs). We can’t forget the genre we’re in.

Q: What do you like in that genre?

A: Well this year “Get Out” was fantastic. But there’s a long history of great, great horror films. “The Shining” and “Psycho.” It’s a long history of movies that freak people out. “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Possession.” There’s just been many, many movies over the years, and I’ve always been inspired by them.

Q: They’re not bound by normal rules.

A: That’s where the originality is.

Reach Goodykoontz at bill.goodykoontz@arizonarepublic.com. Facebook: facebook.com/GoodyOnFilm. Twitter: @goodyk.

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