[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Deep Water.]From director Adrian Lyne and co-written by Sam Levinson & Zach Helm, the psychological thriller Deep Water shines a spotlight on the marriage of Vic (Ben Affleck) and Melinda (Ana de Armas) Van Allen, which is picture-perfect from the outside but endlessly dysfunctional from the inside. The mind games they play with each other push their relationship to the edge of jealousy and lust, and comes with dangerous consequences that could be responsible for the downfall of it all.

During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, Lyne talked about why it’s been 20 years since he last directed a film, whether he’d tried to get another project going in that time, what he liked about the switch to shooting digitally rather than with film, that he likes to form a very close bond with his actors, why the editing process was so complicated, and the changes he made to the story’s ending. He also talked about Jacob’s Ladder, how he ended up cutting certain scenes out of the film, and why he regrets doing it.


Collider: I have to ask about the fact that it’s been 20 years since you directed Unfaithful. Did you ever come close to making other movies, before doing Deep Water?

ADRIAN LYNE: Yes, I did. I spent a lot of time in France, which I love and it’s very hard to come back from, to be honest. I love it there. But I worked really quite hard there. I wrote and I worked with writers on two or three, maybe more, projects that, for whatever reason, didn’t come off. There was one that I wish I had done. I thought I needed more money to make the movie. I didn’t think the budget of the movie was enough, but now, in retrospect, I should have done it at the price that they said they could do it at. I make mistakes. But I like this one very much.

RELATED: ‘Deep Water’ Review: Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas Star in an Erotic Thriller Without Any of the Promised Eroticism

Was that movie you were going to do also a psychological thriller in this vein, or was it something very different?

LYNE: No, it was different, actually. It was a heist movie and there was a love story in it. I thought it was an epic movie. That’s why I thought that it needed more money and I needed a lot of time to do it.

Is directing again, after 20 years have passed, like riding a bike? Is it something you never forget, or does it feel very different now? Did you have to have an adjustment period to find your groove again?

LYNE: People kept on saying that to me. To make me feel better, they said, “Oh, it’s just like getting on a bike. You’ll be fine.” What I was anxious about was shooting digitally rather than with film, but I really enjoyed the experience. I’d never done that before. I liked the fact that it felt more spontaneous. The lighting took less time. I could use available light quite a lot, which I love. I like working with Eigil [Bryld], the cameraman. I found it fun, really. I felt that I didn’t sag.

I’m also a photographer and I still love shooting on film, so I understand making the transition from film to digital.

LYNE: When you’re working with film, it takes four hours to light the thing, and then you have half an hour to shoot the scene in. That happened to me a lot. Now, it’s only an hour and a half to light it and I’ve got more time on the scene. And also, on the other end, in the cutting, I enjoyed working digitally on that. I worked remotely in Manhattan and my editor was in Jersey, and it worked quite well, the fact that I wasn’t sitting next to him. In fact, I think it might have been better, keeping us from coming to blows, or whatever.

This is a film that’s about a relationship where the sex turns to infidelity, which turns to murder. It seems like so often these so-called arrangements that are seemingly agreed to by both parties in a relationship eventually do bring out other emotions, most often jealousy. Does this relationship feel like a real exploration of that thin line between love and hate?

collider.com Adrian Lyne on 'Deep Water,' His 20-Year Hiatus, and What He Cut From 'Jacob's Ladder'

LYNE: It does. What I tried to avoid, to be honest, was an “arrangement.” I wanted you to be dumped into a relationship that is in tatters, if you like. I didn’t want to feel that he said, “Well, you can go out and screw whoever you want, and eventually you’ll come back, and you’ll be happier with me.” I just thought that was detestable. I wanted you to feel that this was a marriage where the relationship had gotten out of hat. He’s trying to deal with it and he’s trying to be urbane. In that scene at the beginning, he says, “I wish you’d find somebody with brains,” but then, within 30 seconds, he’s coming onto her and getting rejected, so it’s not working for him.

Something about this story and the relationship between these characters, and watching Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas, reminded me of Fatal Attraction and Michael Douglas and Glenn Close. Did working with them and the way they approached working, remind you, in any way, of your experience working with Michael Douglas and Glenn Close?

LYNE: It was close. I was close to them both, as I was with Michael and Glenn. You feel like you’re doing it with them. Even with the sex scenes, I’m a little bit like a cheerleader. I have the horror of imagining these poor people going at it in silence and not knowing whether they look good or whether their ass is flabby. I get very close, almost like a shrink, or a husband or wife. For 10 weeks or more, you have to develop an incredible intimacy with them. It’s not quite so easy now, as it was. Things were a little more relaxed, when I did Fatal Attraction. Before they did that love scene over the sink, they’d had a couple of drinks. They had a glass of champagne to ease the scene. Now, you couldn’t do that because they’d be worried about lawsuits. And there’s an intimacy coordinator who’s watching a screen. It doesn’t worry me, particularly, but it implies a lack of trust, which I don’t like because that’s all I’ve got with the actors. If they don’t trust me, then I have nothing.

Over the course of your career as a filmmaker, which of your films changed the most in the editing room and for what reason?

LYNE: I always take a long while because it’s such an agonizing process. This one (Deep Water) was complicated because the two characters are so bizarre that you are fighting to keep it not so surreal that it becomes unbelievable. There can’t be a moment when the audience goes, “I don’t believe that. That’s silly. Now, you’ve lost me.” And that’s terribly easy to happen. So, this took a long while, just in terms of getting the pace right, and getting people to believe that this guy loved his snails. You have a daughter of five, sitting in the bath and saying, “Daddy, when Charlie drowned in the swimming pool, did his feet touch the ground?” And he says, “I don’t know. I wasn’t there.” And she says, “Sure, you were there,” and she’s like a cop. I liked that. The scene is surreal, but you buy it.

You’ve previously said that when it came to Jacob’s Ladder, test screenings indicated that the initial version of that film was overwhelming for audiences and you cut about 20 minutes of scenes out of the last third of that film. What made you decide to do that and how hard was that decision to make?

LYNE: It was agonizing, and now I think I should have left them in. It wasn’t 20 minutes. It was actually, in total, probably about six minutes. At the time, there was a feeling of overload. The audience was in the mire. They were submerged, trying to get back to the surface. There was a scene where there was this demon that came through, when he’s been given the antidote. It’s a really good scene. This awful-looking eye looks through the ceiling, and then the ceiling falls in and there’s this massive wind. It’s terrific, visually, and it’s dramatic, but I just thought it was overkill. Mario Kassar, who was the producer, said, “Just put it all in. They don’t understand it anyway.” But I didn’t. Frankly, I think he was probably right. I think you have to see the movie twice to understand it, really. There’s a man dying in Vietnam, and it’s a dying process. He’s dying in Vietnam, and he’s remembering a relationship, but he’s also imagining a relationship after the war that’s just in his head. Asking people to understand that is tough, without seeing it twice.

What are the chances that we might ever get a special edition DVD or Blu-ray, with those scenes?

LYNE: I don’t know if it’s a Blu-ray, but I always put the extra scenes in. I just think I should have put them in the movie.

Was the ending of Deep Water always the ending? Did you ever discuss any other possible endings? Did the ending always stay the same?

LYNE: I liked the idea that this is a very strange and fucked up love story, that somehow these people needed each other. I liked the bookend idea. I liked the idea that this could go on forever, until they both killed each other. I also liked it when she said, “I saw Tony.” She did see Tony. She saw his license that she burned. I liked the thought that she did that because she didn’t want him to go to prison. You have to imagine their life afterward. In the novel (written by Patricia Highsmith), he wasn’t interested in her sexually, at all. He was just interested in his kid and his snails. Ultimately, she so pissed him off that he killed her.

I thought that it was a pity not to have a sense of complicity between these two people, so that when he’s looking through the window, at the beginning, at her making out with a boyfriend at a party, she knows that he’ll be watching. I thought it was a pity not to have a sense of complicity between her and him. I thought that was an element that it would have been a pity not to have. I liked that she came over to him, during the scene when Charlie De Lisle is playing the piano, and you wonder whether she feels sorry for him, or does she love him there. She sees him watching and she comes over, and there’s that moment of sexuality between them. I thought that was interesting.

Deep Water is available to stream at Hulu.

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Christina Radish is a Senior Reporter at Collider. Having worked at Collider for over a decade (since 2009), her primary focus is on film and television interviews with talent both in front of and behind the camera. She is a theme park fanatic, which has lead to covering various land and ride openings, and a huge music fan, for which she judges life by the time before Pearl Jam and the time after. She is also a member of the Critics Choice Association and the Television Critics Association.

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