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Write On: 'Saltburn' Writer/Director Emerald Fennell

December 19, 2023
2 min read time

“I like having sympathy for the devil. And all of them are devilish!” says Emerald Fennell about her characters in the new film Saltburn.

Writer/director/actress Emerald Fennell dazzled us with 2020’s Promising Young Woman, for which she took home the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Now she’s back with Saltburn, a shocking romantic tragedy (or triumph according to her!). On this episode of the podcast, I speak to Emerald in depth about crafting the screenplay for Saltburn and finding empathy for even the most devilish characters.

Just a note: there are spoilers in this interview which I feel are crucial to breaking down some of the most controversial scenes in the film, including the taboo “vampire scene” and the startling “bathtub scene.”

“That scene was never meant to be disgusting. It is a love scene. It’s an act of, not service quite, but of devotion. It’s a kind of prayer. I think the thing films often get wrong about sex is that it’s just two people rubbing up against each other, it’s penetration. But the really fascinating thing about sex and desire is that it’s much, much more complicated than that,” says Emerald Fennell.

Saltburn stars Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi and Rosemund Pike. It’s currently playing in theaters and streams on Amazon Prime Dec. 22.


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