At ‘Swallow’s Tribeca Film Festival world premiere, star Haley Bennett discussed the making of the project along with her costar Austin Stowell and writer/director Carlo Mirabella-Davis.
The new film Swallow tells the story of a pregnant woman who develops a condition known as Pica, which causes her to attempt to eat products not considered food, such as marbles and more. Played by Haley Bennett in a Tribeca Award-winning performance, Hunter is forced to confront this obsession as it begins to rip apart the idyllic life that she has built for herself.
Prior to the film’s Tribeca premiere, Bennett joined her on-screen husband Austin Stowell and the director Carlo Mirabella-Davis to discuss the making of the film, and how the real-life condition was dramatized for the purposes of the film.
The Knockturnal: How did you find Swallow, and what attracted you to it in the first place?
Haley Bennett: The script came to me and it was fascinating. I loved the medical aspect of it, and I was fascinated by Pica and then I was also excited to explore why she developed this compulsion and get into the psychology of it. It was a really fun role to play, and I got super OCD myself after I knew that I was doing the project, and I came up with this massive binder of photographs and facts about Pica, and it was like my own preproduction binder?
The Knockturnal: What is it that you’re eating on screen when your character is eating objects like marbles and such?
Haley Bennett: I was easting marbles which were actually candy, I was eating candy nails and candy batteries… we had an amazing set design team that was actually really fun, and we had a good laugh.
The Knockturnal: This is your second time at Tribeca, I know. You’ve previously been here with a documentary, right?
Carlo Mirabella-Davis: That’s right, a documentary called The Swell Season that I co-directed with Nick August-Perna and Chris Dapkins. We were here about five years, ago, so it was an amazing experience.
The Knockturnal: What’s it like coming back, especially with a very different kind of project?
Carlo Mirabella-Davis: It’s such an incredible honor to be returning to Tribeca, especially since I absolutely love this festival. This is my hometown festival, the one that was a beacon of art and creativity for me over the years.
The Knockturnal: What was it like seeing the final cut of the film? What was your reaction to the final film?
Carlo Mirabella-Davis: I think I probably… you know what’s odd? When you watch your own film, there’s this moment when you realize that it’s going to be leaving the nest, that it’s going to be its own thing. You’ve summoned a creature from the beyond and now it’s going to go out into the world and have emotional reactions with other people. And there’s this bittersweet thing where you’re [like] “now I don’t get to work on it anymore!”
The Knockturnal: Can you tell me a little about your character in Swallow and how you found the movie?
Austin Stowell: I was sent the script, and fell in love with it immediately… and Carlo and I hit the ground running right away. We were just on the same page from day one about who Richie was and his relationship with Hunter, his yearning to be an alpha male when he’s never been given the opportunity because of his oppressive mother and father, and it was something that just rang true to me right away. I just chased it and chased it and luckily it worked out.
The Knockturnal: What was it like working with Carlo and with Haley?
Austin Stowell: Carlo was amazing, he was… like I said we were on the same page from day one. So it was more about just dialing up frequencies, or dialing down the levels, so to speak. And Haley was so, so deep into her character that I just felt like… this was one of the first times I’ve done this where I didn’t watch the other actors within their scenes, because I felt like we needed that distance and separation so that our actual relationship was reflecting our relationship on screen.
Swallow premiered April 28th at the Tribeca Film Festival.