About That Lost Sexual Hysteria Project For Julia Roberts
In David Cronenberg's new film A Dangerous Method, Keira Knightley plays Sabina Spielrein, a young woman who at times lapses into fits of hysterics and at other times, comfortably discusses masturbation and the arousing aspects of her father's beatings. Originally though, this complicated character (and the onscreen spankings she endures) were not intended for the Pirates of the Caribbean star -- but for Julia Roberts, America's Longest-Reigning Sweetheart.
In an interview, Cronenberg confesses that an earlier iteration of Christopher Hampton's script centered on Sabina -- who, in real life, went on to become one of the world's first female psychoanalysts after being treated by (and some say, engaging in a sexual relationship with) Carl Jung.
"[Christopher] had written a screenplay for Julia Roberts called Sabina and it was for Fox," the filmmaker explains. "I think that was 17 years ago and it didn't happen for whatever reason, and he then asked [the studio] if he could have the permission to make a play out of it, so it was really a screenplay first and it was based on many things."
Hampton took his concept to the stage for 2002's The Talking Cure, which starred Ralph Fiennes, Jodhi May and Dominic Rowan before eventually adapting the idea into this week's feature, which centers on Jung's relationship with Sigmund Freud as much as his relationship with Spielrein.
While Cronenberg does not explain why Sabine never got off the ground, readers might assume that Roberts was uncomfortable with some of the sexually charged scenes that initially caused Knightley to almost leave the project.
"There were these two scenes, and I didn't know that I could do those two scenes," Knightley told Reuters this fall. "In the age of Internet and all the rest of it, I didn't know that that is what I want particularly to be out there. [...] I phoned [Cronenberg] up initially to turn it down because I thought they were incredibly important for the piece. So it wasn't a question of trying to negotiate them out of the film because I thought they were very necessary for the film. But I just thought, 'I don't think I can do that.'"
The filmmaker was ultimately able to assuage Knightley's nerves by promising her that the scenes would be more "clinical" than "sexual."
While moviegoers may never get to see Julia Roberts play a hysterical Russian mistress who begs for beatings in the bedroom, they will get to see her play an unintentionally hysterical evil queen who appears to practically beg for critical beatings in the upcoming Snow White adaptation Mirror, Mirror this March.