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Alice Englert | BAD BEHAVIOUR

Written By:

Ben Bradley
Alice Englert - Bad Behaviour

Alice Englert is a rising star best known from the critically acclaimed Ginger & Rosa, Gothic fantasy Beautiful Creatures and, most recently, award-winning western, The Power of the Dog (directed by her mother Jane Campion).

Now, Englert has embarked on her directorial debut, a funny, touching, and offbeat comedy-drama called Bad Behaviour starring Jennifer Connelly (Top Gun: Maverick, Requiem for a Dream) and Ben Whishaw (This Is Going to Hurt, No Time to Die).

Jennifer Connelly plays Lucy, a former child actress who seeks healing from past traumas, embarking on a ‘semi-silent’ spiritual retreat run by Ben Whishaw’s new-age guru, Elon. Even with the best intentions, it proves to be anything but relaxing, especially with a self-obsessed celebrity model joining the retreat. Meanwhile, Lucy also struggles to connect with her stunt performer daughter, Dylan (played by Englert), leading the pair to confront their own complicated relationship finally.

To coincide with Bad Behaviour arriving in UK cinemas, we caught up with Alice to talk about her filmmaking debut, her love of fantasy, and what’s next.

STARBURST: What inspired you to write Bad Behaviour?

Alice Englert:  It was inspired by going to retreats when I was younger. I wanted to see what happens when that part of you that wants to let go, instead of a gentle release, holds on for dear life, starts yelling and screaming and ruins it for everybody else! [laughs] That’s absolutely not what they put on the brochure! So, it was something I wanted to explore, but with kindness. I was also inspired by this Medusa painting by Caravaggio because it always scared me when I was a kid, and I wondered why. So, I wanted to spend some time in that space.

You have a very impressive star cast, which includes Jennifer Connelly and Ben Whishaw; how was it working with them?

I’m such a fan of both. I love Jennifer so much. In some of her scenes, I was watching her, and I really don’t know how she did it, like in the swaddling baby scene. She’s just so good. I wrote Ben’s role with him in mind and he was really keen on the script. We also have an amazing supporting cast, including Dasha Nekrasova (Succession), Beulah Koale (Hawaii Five-0) and Ana Scotney (Educators), and a fantastic crew who made the experience so much fun.

You mentioned the swaddling adult baby scene. Without giving anything away, it’s both funny and immediately emotional. How did you strike that balance?

It wasn’t in the original script, and I was so worried that I was writing a film that made no sense! But my producer encouraged me to take this core idea and go even crazier, so when I had permission to go there, that’s when I think everything happened that actually made it a movie. This one scene became about being vulnerable, from being in a ridiculous situation to realising you’re going to cry in front of everybody, and then it just happens, and there’s nothing you can do. I guess the audience gets put in baby mode for that moment, laughing one minute and crying the next! To be honest, I didn’t know what it would look like, but I really can’t believe actors sometimes! Like I said, I don’t know how Jennifer did it.

Jennifer Connelly and Ana Scotney

You mentioned Dasha Nekrasova, who is also fantastic in the film!I think Dasha is so good as Beverly, the model. I love all her scenes, and she made it so quietly funny, I had to leave the set at times because I was laughing. In the emotional climax between Lucy and Beverly, which I don’t want to spoil, it’s crazy because sometimes you write something, and then, suddenly, everyone’s doing it and you almost have to get out of their way, literally in this case! When you’re working with a talented team, you get these amazing moments.

It was fun seeing your character being a stunt woman in the story!

Yeah absolutely, and I also want to say how awesome it was working with Dayna Grant who was our stunt coordinator. She’s been Wonder Woman and Xena: Warrior Princess and it was really rewarding and so much fun working with her. Also, Jess O’Connor was my stunt double and Jennifer’s too, so she took double duty. The whole team was brilliant and I’m so grateful for that.

Is writing, directing, and acting in the same film hard? And how do you juggle all those responsibilities?

For me, it’s weirdly not so hard because I think my brain needs a lot of stimulation! In a strange way that acrobatic feeling and juggling different tasks works well for me. Also, while it was a fast shoot and quite intense, in the past I’ve spent six months filming in a corset, so this was easy in comparison! All the cast, crew and producers were very trusting and fully behind the film. So for me, it’s more a question of asking myself how can I be generous with my time and efforts, in the way these people are being generous with theirs towards me?

Dasha Nekrasova

What would you like audiences to take away from Bad Behaviour?

One of my favourite things when I watch stuff is that feeling of wanting to make my own thing next! That’s something I’ve always felt, from indies to big blockbusters. For me, stories have the power to make someone else feel like they can do something. You get a chain reaction so I don’t want the conversation to end. I’d love to see people enjoy my film, then go and make their own work, keep making stuff and for it to continue going around. That, and I hope people experience laughter and comfort.

Finally, as an actor, you’ve worked across many genres including horror and fantasy. Would you like to do more of that? Maybe directing?

Yes, I want people to hire me to do big fantasy! I mean, I’ve got a Hobbit haircut right now, and I spend so much time in worlds other than this one! [laughs] I just filmed a miniseries as an actor that I loved doing, I can’t talk about it yet, but keep an eye out! Even as a filmmaker, I think my films are fantasy stories but set in the real world. I always imagine everybody as larger-than-life, as huge heroes and villains, and then bring it more down to earth. But I love fantasy, and I love ‘love’ as well. I really want to write a romantic film, but I also think there’s room to be funny because romance usually is!


BAD BEHAVIOUR is released in selected cinemas from January 5th 

Buy and Rent on Digital from February 5th

Ben Bradley

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