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Writer/Director Ti West and co-writer/lead actor Mia Goth continue their exploration of cinema and the unhinged killer introduced in X with prequel Pearl, now in theaters.

Set in 1918 at an isolated family farm, “Pearl (Mia Goth) must tend to her ailing father under the bitter and overbearing watch of her devout mother. Lusting for a glamorous life like she’s seen in the movies, Pearl’s ambitions, temptations, and repressions all collide in the stunning, technicolor-inspired origin story of X‘s iconic villain.”

While West embraces saturated hues and draws from the Golden Age of Hollywood to create a stylish technicolor nightmare, he offsets that with quieter psychological moments. The pinnacle of this is a showstopper monologue that sees Mia Goth’s Pearl command attention on screen for roughly ten minutes as she expresses a range of emotions. It’s even more impressive because West holds most of this scene on Goth’s performance.

West shared with Bloody Disgusting how tricky this monologue was to pull off on screen and how it could’ve quickly gone wrong.

West explains, “Well, the goal is always to take a relatively flashy, showy movie and have the climax be something not that. The climax of this movie should be about her psychological and emotional state, not about something blowing up or some crazy thing like that. That’s where the idea initially came from; a monologue where she says how she feels felt like the appropriate climax. Easier said than done. Writing it was writing it. It starts bad, and it gets better as you go. Then filming it, I didn’t have to do that much other than get out of the way. That was certainly something much more that Mia had on her shoulders. It was interesting and difficult for me because we filmed that scene from when she walks into the room and sits down to the monologue to when they get up and leave. That all together could be 12, 13 minutes, something like that. 

“There was a six-minute chunk in the middle that, once she said a certain string of words, began what I was hoping not to have to cut from. If anything was going to go wrong on set, it had to go wrong before she said those words. Someone shout out if something’s going wrong within 30 seconds. Because if the camera’s losing battery, or if a walkie-talk is going to go off, or someone’s going to cough, or a phone’s going to ring, or an eyeliner’s going to get screwed up, if it happens into that monologue, you kill the whole thing. There was this intense focus on set to stay out of her way. As soon as she started the monologue, it was like, if anyone had a problem, you had to say it then, because it was almost like doing a stunt where, this is dangerous, everyone be where you’re supposed to be and be prepared and be focused. It was hard because you had to be focused for 10 minutes, which is hard to do. We probably did it maybe six or seven times. I think the fourth one is what’s in there, and she nailed it every time. 

Mia Goth pearl

West continues, “But even to describe it as I’m sitting there watching it, I’m both moved by it, but I’m also thinking, I hope that four and half minutes into that she doesn’t stumble. Because I’m going to have to be the one that goes in there and says ‘We have to start over.’ That’s going to suck. Then even down to the very end, it’s very important that when it’s done, she looks up. I don’t know what she’s going through emotionally in those experiences. What if when she’s done, she doesn’t look up? Then I can’t get out of the scene, and I got to come in and go, ‘As good as that was, we got to do it again.’

“These are all things that we had talked about in rehearsal. She knew to do all that, but you go through six minutes of crying three different times and going through all these different emotions. I have no idea. She’s on another planet for all that. This is just a complete tour de force and credit to Mia, who A, could do it six times in a row in a day, and B, all of them were good, and she didn’t mess it up. She came in so ready and prepared that we just got out of her way.

Mia Goth

That monologue may have taken careful consideration in its execution, but another buzzworthy Pearl moment came on the fly; the end credit scene that sees Mia Goth grinning through an extended take.

West reveals how that happened, “That was just a random experimental idea that I was like, ‘Let’s try this, see what happens.’ Then she did that, and after watching it for three minutes, I said, “Cut. That’s great. We’re going to put that in the movie, and let’s go back to work now.’ It was such a funny, random thing we did. I thought this might be an interesting idea. It’s arguably one of the best, and certainly the most memorable things in the movie, but it was just a whim of an idea that I was like, I don’t know what’s going to happen, but that’s what happened, and then I thought, ‘this is great.’”

Pearl is now playing in theaters, with third movie MaXXXine coming soon.

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