“Factory Girl” imaginatively unfolds the comet-like rise and fall of 60s “it girl” Edie Sedgwick, the blazing superstar who came to define both the glamour and the tragedy of our celebrity-obsessed culture. Sedgwick appeared to be the quintessential American princess, with her blue blood, her trust fund and her Harvard education, not to mention her ethereal beauty and vivacious charisma. But she was also a lost and fragile little girl; and when she met up with counter-culture anti-hero Andy Warhol, everything changed. Suddenly, Edie found herself at the center of a Pop Art universe bursting with sex, drugs, style and rock ‘n’ roll -- and a mad rush for fame and fabulousness that was destined to spin out of control.
Arriving into the chaos of mid-60s New York, Edie (Sienna Miller) is taken under the wing of the famously deadpan artist Andy Warhol (Guy Pearce) who sees in her untamed vulnerability the makings of an irresistible muse. Warhol invites Edie into the wild world of The Factory, a former downtown hat factory he has transformed into a bohemian paradise. Here, a rag-tag mix of musicians, poets, artists, actors and misfits gather to create avant-garde movies during the day and throw glam parties all night long. Edie quickly ascends to become the star of Warhol’s movies, an idol at The Factory and a media darling. She is on top of the world when she falls in love with a larger-than-life rock star (Hayden Christensen), the man known as “the voice of a generation.” But when Edie becomes caught between Warhol’s world of sexy surfaces and her new love, she winds up rejected by both – and once again, set adrift in the modern world.
STARRING: Sienna Miller, Hayden Christensen, Guy Pearce, Mena Suvari, Jimmy Fallon
DIRECTOR: George Hickenlooper
STUDIO: The Weinstein Co.
RATING: R (For Sexuality, Nudity, Language, Drug Use, Violence)
Wild About Movies Grade: B
Behind The Scenes
Rediscovering the Factory Girl:
Edie Sedgwick’s Story Comes to the Screen
“She was after life, but sometimes life doesn’t come fast enough.”
-- Diana Vreeland on Edie Sedgwick
With her dazzling style, vivacious spark and undeniable sense of cool, Edie Sedgwick found herself at the very center of a revolution in American pop culture. Branded by Andy Warhol as a counter-culture heroine when the counter-culture was everything, she became the statuesque icon of a generation -- the one woman of her times of whom it was said that all men wanted and all women wanted to be. She hailed from a true blue-blooded, aristocratic family – so prominent in New England their rounded cemetery plot in Massachusetts is known as the “Sedgwick Pie.” Yet, her trademark image became a fundamental symbol of the ultimate modern American woman: electric, rebellious yet deeply vulnerable. Vogue Magazine even came up with a name for the revolution she represented – dubbing her a “Youthquaker.” Then, almost as quickly as she burst onto the scene, Sedgwick’s flame was extinguished - she died at age 28 from a drug overdose.
Since her death in 1971, however, Sedgwick has made a comeback as an American idol whose story continues to fascinate on multiple levels. Her spectacular brushes with fame, artistic revolutions, culture clashes, family dysfunction and the fall from grace are more relevant than ever, while her extraordinary sense of style – with her iconic signature look of kohl-black eyes, dyed blonde hair, leotards or geometric dresses, and dark tights – remains a major influence on fashion. Echoes of Edie are everywhere in modern media. And yet, her story has never been told on screen.
Now, in FACTORY GIRL, Edie’s incendiary presence comes to life through powerful performances and a riveting multi-media collage of moments that are drawn both from reality – re-creations of actual archival tapes, still photos, transcribed interviews, screen tests and scenes from Warhol’s movies – and imagination, which together forge a vision not only of the public but the private Edie, beyond the prodigious imagery that made her so famous.
Like so many, leading independent producer Holly Wiersma – who also produced the acclaimed film BOBBY - had long wanted to see Edie Sedgwick’s story told in a motion picture that would pay homage to her impact on the contemporary world. “Edie’s story has fascinated people for such a long time because she was the first true ‘It Girl,’” says Wiersma. “She was so beautiful, smart and exciting, but her story is also a cautionary tale.”
Hoping to capture all of that, ultimately Wiersma would set in motion a several year collaboration with writer Captain Mauzner and director George Hickenlooper to bring the raw reality of Edie’s story to the screen.
Also on the team was producer Aaron Richard Golub, a high-profile lawyer, novelist, screenwriter, art collector and long-time friend and associate of Andy Warhol who had known Edie Sedgwick and had experienced first-hand the world of the Factory. “This story is not just about Edie the tragic celebrity,” says Golub, “but about a woman who was caught between some of the most extraordinary and formidable figures of the latter 20th century. She lived in these incredible times, when rock music was emerging, when art was changing, when dissent was in the air, when drugs were taking hold; and as beautiful and bright as she was, she was simply too fragile to handle it all.”
In the beginning, screenwriter Captain Mauzner, with whom Holly Wiersma had just worked on WONDERLAND, had approached the project with trepidation. Fresh off writing a real-life tale of murder, Mauzner was keenly aware that trying to tell a story about people from recent history, especially those who still have legacies to protect, can be challenging. He knew he would have to contend with hazy, conflicting memories and varying recollections and suspicions about what might or might not have happened behind closed doors. But he decided to forge ahead, with just one objective – being true to Edie.
“There are always many versions of the truth when you dig into any person’s life,” Mauzner notes. “All I really cared about was being completely true to who Edie was – and that meant not only doing the research but being able to take a few liberties and some chances in the writing to tell the most compelling story.”
With the script now in full swing, Wiersma faced the daunting task of trying to wrangle the life rights for many of the real-life characters who would be so key to Mauzner’s screenplay – the wild bunch of artists and bohemians who became the core of the Factory and Edie’s closest friends. Wiersma says: “We couldn’t have made this movie without the cooperation of people who had been inside the Factory and a part of Edie’s life, from the Berlin sisters to Gerard Malanga to Michael Post.”
Meanwhile, Wiersma also began to search for a director who could bring the swirling Factory scene to the screen with their own strong POV and style. The quest led her to George Hickenlooper, best known for directing HEARTS OF DARKNESS, the Emmy-winning documentary about the making of APOCALYPSE NOW. After running into Hickenlooper at the Independent Spirit Awards -- where he was picking up honors for his acclaimed, rock ‘n’ roll-themed documentary THE MAYOR OF SUNSET STRIP, about pop impresario Rodney Bingenheimer – it occurred to Wiersma that Hickenlooper had just the right smart, cinema-savvy, yet humane story-telling sensibilities to bring fresh perspective to Edie’s story. Renowned both for his factual and fictional films, Hickenlooper brought the best of both worlds to the production.
Though Hickenlooper had only heard of Sedgwick peripherally (Bingenheimer had known her when she was in California hanging out with Jim Morrison), the personal side of her story struck a chord, resonating with themes that have always fascinated him as a filmmaker – themes of abandonment and the driving search for love.
“You’re drawn to material when it hits you personally, and in this story, just as I had with THE MAYOR OF SUNSET STRIP, I saw a correlation with my own life in Edie’s,” the director says. “I was very excited about approaching it as a story about a beautiful girl who, in the wake of parental abandonment, tries to find love in the larger world. What moved me about Edie is that, on the one hand, she was this incredibly lonely, terrified, completely heartbreaking little girl – and on the other, she was this larger-than-life person who was as fabulous and envied as you can get. She was so transcendent, she was almost like a goddess, and at the same time, she was so very flawed and human. I think those extremes of both yearning and cultural success are why she resonates with so many people. For both Edie and Andy, fame was a survival mechanism.”
Before even finishing the draft, Hickenlooper wasted no time. “I called Holly at one in the morning and said ‘I’ve only read half of it, but I’m directing this movie,’” he recalls. He also committed to pursuing the story as fearlessly as he could.
“I’ve always really admired the audacious filmmaking of Orson Welles, who took on real-life characters like Randolph Hearst without flinching,” he says. “We know by now that no biographical movie can or should get every minor fact into it, and we always felt it was more about capturing Edie’s spirit than the precise details of history. I wanted the film to be as faithful to the times as possible, but to also have the rawness that comes from characters who feel very much alive.”
Into the Machine:
Researching Edie and The Factory
“She always wanted to leave. Even if the party was good, she wanted to leave . . . Edie was like that. She just couldn’t wait to get to the next place.”
-- Andy Warhol on Edie Sedgwick
To assure that FACTORY GIRL would capture that feeling of real characters who are very much alive – and to pay homage to Warhol’s artistic universe -- the filmmakers mixed and matched both research and imagination. With the support of former Factory members and members of Edie’s family, they scoured through archival material and interviews they would later faithfully recreate on screen, while also filling in blanks and intensifying key moments of the story with fictional elements based on Edie and Andy’s personalities and histories.
Over a period of two years, Captain Mauzner and George Hickenlooper took the screenplay through various iterations and revisions as they delved deeper and deeper into the equally tumultuous family history of the Sedgwicks and the Factory.
To get an authentic, inside view on what life in Warhol’s coterie was really like, the pair conducted hour after hour of probing interviews with many of Andy Warhol’s and Edie Sedgwick’s closest intimates, including: Gerard Malanga, the influential poet and Factory filmmaker who co-founded Interview Magazine with Warhol (and whom the New York Times called “Warhol’s most important associate”); Warhol “Superstar” sisters Brigid and Richie Berlin; art curator Sam Green who helped to build Warhol’s career; Factory member Danny Fields who went on to become a major rock music manager; Edie’s brother Jonathan; Edie’s cousin Jon; and Edie’s widowed husband, Michael Post. Pulled into the Factory’s inner circle, Mauzner and Hickenlooper also spent days browsing through endless archival material, from formal artworks to revealing, casual photographs.
They were also given access to an extensive collection of audio recordings from the 60s – which proved invaluable to not only Mauzner as he wrote, but Sienna Miller and Guy Pearce in developing their portraits of Edie and Andy.
After conducting an initial round of research into Edie and the 28 years of her all-too-short life, Mauzner decided to focus primarily on the time she spent with Warhol – when she became the key figure at the center of his radical artistic realm. Their relationship seemed to summarize everything essential to Edie’s story: the glamour, the pain, the search for love and family, the temptations of drugs and rock ‘n’ roll and the enduring effect she had on popular culture.
“Edie’s time with Andy Warhol encapsulated the essence of her entire life in one fast-moving chunk of time,” says Mauzner. “It was a way to capture both the light and dark sides of who she was without traversing in depth through all 28 years of a very complicated life.”
The more Mauzner probed Edie’s past, the more he developed his own picture of why she captured so many imaginations. “I began to see her as a kind of Audrey Hepburn . . . turned upside down,” he explains. “She came to New York in the 60s, emerging out of a dark family history, wanting to be a sexy, sweet, sophisticated Holly Golightly and found herself instead in the middle of the counter-culture. Her story took a tragic turn, but in the beginning, this explosive moment of art and style and revolution was so exciting.”
After talking to other Factory denizens, Mauzner also began to get a sense of how deep and mysterious Edie’s allure was at the height of her celebrity. “She was one of those rare people who can make even the mundane seem exciting,” he notes. “Apparently, whole crowds would just sit and listen to her talk on the phone for hours. She had this unique ability to get everyone who encountered her to become involved in her drama and to feel more alive because of it. Women envied her and it seemed that all men, gay or straight, instantly fell in love with her. Watching archival films of her I really got a sense of what made her so fascinating. There’s so much going on behind her beautiful surfaces and I think Warhol fell in love with that.”
The screenwriter ultimately came to view the Factory not just as the outrageous party scene it became famous for, but as a truly exciting artistic endeavor. Warhol, he felt, had literally changed the landscape of modern art, by creating a realm in which images weren’t just to be seen but were deconstructed, manipulated, blown up and devoured like candy. “In doing all this research, I really came to appreciate how revolutionary Warhol was with what he was doing at the Factory,” says Mauzner. “His filmmaking was really kind of the predecessor to Reality Television, in that he would just start the camera rolling on whatever was happening with all these fascinating real-life characters. I became more and more intrigued by that.”
But if Mauzner was awed by Warhol’s art, he also wanted to lift the veil on the enigmatic man. “Andy has always been portrayed as this kind of aloof genius, but I think a lot of that was just an act,” he says. “So I thought it would be exciting to move beyond the usual perceptions of Warhol and with Guy’s performance, that complexity really comes out.”
Mauzner also wanted to show how Edie had become trapped right in the middle of the two opposing revolutions of the 60s: one in the hard-edged art world and the other in the more laid-back realm of rock and roll. “One was campy and freaky while the other was consciousness expanding, one was gender-bending while the other was more macho and masculine. And Edie was kind of this beautiful being who captivated them all,” he says.
Yet, even as Hickenlooper and Mauzner continued to develop the screenplay, they knew the characters would only truly start to feel alive once the parts were cast. “Ultimately, the script is just a blueprint,” sums up Mauzner. “The actors have to come in and give it that emotional truth.”
Finding The Factory Girl:
Sienna Miller is Edie Sedgwick
“I was a good target for The Scene.”
-- Edie Sedgwick on Edie Sedgwick
A superstar of epic proportions, it was always clear that Edie Sedgwick would require an equally intriguing actress to capture both her quintessential style and her heartbreaking descent. She was a woman of vast contrasts. Even her iconic look, with its stark opposites – the pretty saucer eyes with the heavy charcoal eyeshadow, the rail-thin body with its boldly geometric mod outfits -- seemed to walk the line between the optimistic and the tragic.
Although dozens of major actresses vied for the role it ultimately fell to a woman who could relate deeply to Edie’s life and struggles: Sienna Miller. Miller not only had an uncanny physical resemblance to Edie and similar reputation as an international trendsetter, but was then emerging as one of today’s most talented young screen actresses. For some, she had no equal as a candidate for the role. “When Sienna walks into a room, everything just stops,” remarks Holly Wiersma. “She has that rare quality.”
Her audition sealed the deal. “Sienna simply was Edie,” says Wiersma. Adds Aaron Richard Golub: “Sienna comes the closest to embodying Edie in looks, style and personality of anyone I’ve ever seen.”
Miller was attracted to the script not only for the writing but because it was sent to her with a hauntingly vibrant picture of Edie, circa 1965, clipped to the inside. “From the minute I saw that photograph, I was in love,” she recalls. “The writing was really, really great but it was that poignant image of her that struck me and sold me on the role. I’ve always been obsessed with the whole 60s era, and there was something so extraordinary and captivating about Edie’s presence, especially her eyes. There was a lot of strength, but then there was also this damage and frailty. I’d heard of her before of course, but now I was completely taken.”
Despite having lived four decades ago, Miller also saw Edie as having the potential to appeal to today’s teens and young adult audiences as much as she did during her own era. “Edie and Andy had their fingers on the pulse of the culture at a time when everything was changing,” she says. “They were really leaders of this whole movement that was all about music and fashion and art – and I think it will be fascinating to people who don’t know anything at all about Edie or the Factory to get a chance to see how this cultural explosion we’re still experiencing all began.”
To get deeper into the role, Miller spent nearly a year doing intensive research, not only reading all about Edie and Andy, but also spending considerable amounts of time with Factory members. “It was fantastic to sit down with people who were part of that scene – like Brigid Berlin, Danny Fields, Gerard Malanga and all these incredible 60s characters -- and hear their stories and see their photographs,” she remarks. “The more we got into their inner circle of trust, the more we kept discovering.”
Says George Hickenlooper: “I’ve never worked with an actress who so thoroughly researched a role. This part was made for Sienna.”
The more Miller researched Edie the more she became wrapped up in the role. “As I learned about her past, Edie became an even richer character,” Miller notes. “Because Edie came from such a messed-up background it was easy for me to understand how she got to that end point. You can see how she was so damaged and how she was so desperate for any kind of real love.”
Edie’s need for love finds its match when she meets Andy Warhol, who sees in her everything he always wanted to be and helps to place her in the spotlight of the counter-culture. Miller was fascinated by their relationship, which she sees as something authentic and real, despite the pop trappings that surrounded it. “I think as much as Andy really could love a woman, he truly loved Edie,” she observes. “While researching the story, I found Warhol to be such an interesting guy – very weird, messed up and voyeuristic, but also talented and fun and, from what I heard, incredible to be around. But he was also a really detached guy and I think in Edie he saw something beautiful and frail that he wanted to build up and then perhaps watch it self-destruct.”
Miller continues: “I think Edie was as drawn to Andy as he was to her. She was thrilled to be part of something so exciting and controversial. At the Factory, she saw an environment she could fit into and become the queen of in a way. What’s interesting is that I think Andy really wanted to become Edie and Edie really wanted to be Andy. It’s an unusual love story.”
Sedgwick was also noted for her dalliances in the world of 60s rock ‘n roll – a side of her life that is represented in FACTORY GIRL in her relationship with the singer played by Hayden Christensen. Sexually passionate, heated and intensely focused on the social issues of the times, Christensen’s rock star is the very antithesis of Andy. “He kind of comes along and sweeps Edie off her feet,” says Miller. “He offers her an alternative to the Factory life. It’s somewhat different from what happened in real life but it shows something that was very real -- that Edie was torn between two polar opposite worlds: the surface-obsessed world of the Factory on the one side and then the kind of peace-love-hippie world on the other. And I think she was tormented because she felt stuck in the middle.”
As for her two leading men, Miller was dazzled. She comments: “I have to say this because it’s true: Guy Pearce is the most generous, committed, hard-working actor I’ve ever met and he really morphed into Andy. He studied his voice, he studied his walk, he studied his persona and he truly became him. I have the utmost respect for the way he put himself into the character and it helped us to create this very intimate relationship he and Edie had.”
Regarding Hayden Christensen, she says: “I didn’t really know him before this film, but from the very first day on the set, he blew me away. He came in with such confidence and grace, like a perfect rock star. I think he did an amazing job.”
Throughout the production, Miller felt a strong sense of responsibility to Edie’s memory. “I really wanted to do her justice,” she says. “She was such a huge, larger-than-life figure and she had so many iconic qualities – with her beautiful voice and her beautiful way of dancing and that innocence that she had – I just wanted to get it all right. I really came to love her.”
Forging The Factory Girl:
Guy Pearce is Edie’s Svengali, Andy Warhol
“If you want to know about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There’s nothing behind it.”
-- Andy Warhol on Andy Warhol
With Edie cast, the filmmakers next began the search for an actor who might dare to play one of the 20th Century’s most recognizable, eccentric and perhaps misunderstood icons: Andy Warhol. During his lifetime, Warhol would completely revolutionize American art, obliterating once and for all any distinctions between the supposed banality of popular culture and the supposed holiness of high, “museum quality” art. He turned every aspect of modern life – from the mechanical to the absurd, from food to celebrities – into immediately powerful paintings and multimedia pieces. Fascinated by the ravenous speed of pop culture and the commodification of modern life, he also famously and prophetically declared: “In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.”
Like Edie, his story was also one of deep contrasts. Raised in poverty by immigrant parents in Pittsburgh, Warhol would go on to become one of the wealthiest artists ever to live. (In 2006, a single Warhol “Dollar Sign” print sold at auction for $4.5 million and the hand painted "Small Torn Campbell's Soup Can" went for $11.7 million.) Even at the height of his fame, he continued to be the consummate contrarian – simultaneously a party-throwing socialite and a detached recluse; a shy outcast and a master manipulator of everything around him. He also had a yin-yang effect on others. It was said that Andy both inspired his friends and used them – sometimes simultaneously. His effect on society was equally contradictory – on the one hand, he attained perhaps the greatest commercial success and celebrity fame of any living artist in history, while on the other, the ultimate impact of his radical experimentation on the art world remains highly controversial and debated to this day.
When Andy met Edie, he was already one of the most celebrated painters in the world, having created a major cultural sensation with his “Campbell Soup Cans” series in 1962. By 1965, he had entered his filmmaking phase, producing such avant-garde classics as SLEEP, EMPIRE and KISS. That same year, Warhol became the first person to ever exhibit video as art.
The minute he met Edie, Warhol saw her as a fantastic contemporary cinema subject. He was so smitten with her presence that he placed her at the center of his alternative “studio system,” and she was soon starring in nearly all of his experimental movies. Their relationship was creative, incendiary and strangely symbiotic. As depicted in the film, when Warhol was asked during that time who would be the ideal person to play him in a film, he actually answered: “Edie Sedgwick, she does everything better than me.”
To play Warhol at his most radical, the filmmakers ultimately made a surprising choice: the Australian actor Guy Pearce, better known for his action roles and his riveting performance as the man who has no long-term memory in the acclaimed MEMENTO. Pearce went through an incredible process of taking on the physical and internal essence of Warhol – and it paid off.
“I knew Andy very well, and Guy got him perfectly,” says Aaron Richard Golub. “Andy had this quality when you were talking to him like he wasn’t really there, it was like talking to a plastic doll and it isn’t easy to do that. Yet Guy’s transformation was seamless.”
Says George Hickenlooper. “I always saw Guy in this role because he is such a chameleon. He’s one of those very fine actors who is so skilled at being transparent, who so inhabits the parts he plays, and whose performances are so authentic, that you forget you’re watching an actor.”
At first, Pearce was hesitant about the role. “I initially found myself shying away from playing Mr. Warhol,” he admits, “but the more I looked at it, the more I became fascinated by the period and the story. Edie really intrigued me because she was such a bright spot in a dark world and the dynamic between her and Andy was just fascinating. You had these two really electric, creative, fragile and needy personalities just colliding into each other.”
Once he took on the part, Pearce tried to get a closer grip on the famously slippery and elusive Warhol personality – no mean feat, given that the man purposely wanted to come off as a mystery to all who might try to study him. “He didn’t ever want to be pinpointed,” observes Pearce, “so there were many smokescreens and many varying reports on who he really was. The beauty of playing Warhol, on the one hand, is that there are about 6 trillion books and documentaries about him but the hard part is that the more you start to dig, the more questions get raised. For me, the thing was to really get on some level to the heart of who he was when he met Edie and who was when he was with her. I wanted to get to the juice of his personality.”
While Pearce read dozens upon dozens of books, watched endless reels of film footage and interviewed an extensive list of Warhol followers, friends and historians – he also knew that a part of it would simply come down to intuitive intelligence. “I think coming up with a character always comes down to your imagination being fueled and sparked and allowing yourself to be taken over by that,” he says. “At the same time, I was aware that I was treading on fragile ground and I wanted to be sure to honor the historic Warhol in playing him.”
Ultimately, so devoted was Pearce to creating a realistic portrait of Warhol that it was not unusual for him to make suggestions regarding every aspect of the scenes he was shooting, even the arrangement of the sets. Recalls cinematographer Michael Grady: “Guy had done such intense research that he knew what certain places should look like right down to the tiniest details. He was so obsessed with making it true that he really raised the bar for everyone else.”
Pearce was especially influenced by the book Pop, Trickster, Fool by University of Maryland professor Kelly M. Cresap, which analyzes Warhol’s persona as an elaborate set of ruses. “The book is sort a psychological breakdown of who Andy might really have been,” Pearce explains, “and it talks about this ability we have to deny what’s going on with us emotionally and to create illusions in our personalities. I think Andy’s clever way of dealing with his own insecurities, of survival and self-protection, was by always staying one step ahead. He was the kind of person who, rather than be told he was ugly, would make himself look even uglier than he really was. That’s why he always the first person to put his own paintings down. He would say ‘My paintings are empty, I’m vacuous, there’s nothing there at all’ which would create a really odd response in people. He was just so complex and I hope I do some of that justice.”
Artistically, Pearce developed huge respect for Warhol’s prescient work. “He really held a mirror up to a world in which television, marketing and advertising were increasing our desire to sort of eat everything up,” he says. “I think he’ll always be remembered as one of the people who captured that and first said ‘look at what’s happening here.’ As I looked at Andy’s work going back to the 50s, I fell quite in love with him as an artist. It was an exciting and enlightening process.”
It was in the relationship between Andy and Edie that Pearce really began to put together the portrait. “At that time, Andy was looking for a star – for his Marilyn Monroe or Rita Hayworth,” Pearce explains, “and in Edie he saw this girl who had an energy that had never really been seen before. He was awestruck by her beauty and also of course by how troubled she was. With his films I think he really tried to expose her completely. He was kind of like the first person to make Reality TV because he would just turn on the camera and capture whatever was going on. And Edie was the perfect subject for that.”
Working with Sienna Miller further inspired Pearce. “We were both really looking for the truth of the period and the truth of who these two people were and what their relationship was about and we bonded over that. I think she gives a really savvy, intuitive and gutsy performance. The great thing about Sienna in the role is that she has that same kind of air of electricity about her that you know Edie must have had.”
Yet ultimately, Warhol would turn away from his Muse when the going got rough – something that Pearce could better comprehend as he got closer to the character. “Andy was a very hard worker and very practical on a financial level and I think he began to feel that Edie was just too messy. He was brilliant but he was also very much about survival and self-protection,” he emphasizes. “I think the tragedy is that he and Edie were so drawn to each other and had so much fun together but there was no way they could keep that bond in the atmosphere of the Factory. She was someone who so needed to be loved and supported and, ultimately, Andy just wasn’t able to be that person.”
That becomes eminently clear, especially in FACTORY GIRL’s final eerie, yet poignant, shots of Warhol being interviewed in 1971 (taken from real interview footage) – reacting with cold but telling detachment to the news of Edie’s death.
Still, as deeply intertwined as Warhol is in Edie’s tragedy, Pearce doesn’t lay the blame for what happened to her at the artist’s feet. “There’s all this talk about Andy being a manipulator, but I really believe that whatever fire he found inside a person, he would simply just let it burn. He allowed people to do what they were going to do anyway,” says Pearce. “Andy just allowed it all to happen, good and bad.”
Ultimately, Pearce became so involved in the role that by the end of the shoot, he gifted members of the cast and crew with Campbell’s Soup cans inscribed with the legend: “If you start to miss me, just heat and eat – Andy.”
Dressing The Factory Girl:
About The Film’s Fashion
“When I was with Andy . . . I was dancing jazz ballet twice a day . . . and I knew I wasn’t going to turn anybody on so I just trotted around in my leotards. . . and then Vogue photographed me in leotards and t-shirts as a new costume.”
-- Edie Sedgwick on Edie Sedgwick
Edie Sedgwick was renowned not only for her charisma but for her unforgettable look, which set lasting trends, sparked millions of followers and continues to influence fashionistas around the world today. Her signature style, which included black tights, high heels, shift dresses, slinky tops, a blonde pixie cut, heavy black eye-shadow and dangling, chandelier earrings – all set against her waif-like body – slashed out 50s conservatism in dress and ushered in a much sexier and freer form of fashion. In 1965, the year she met Andy, Edie was big fashion news. Said Life Magazine that year: “This cropped-mop girl with the eloquent legs is doing more for black tights than anybody since Hamlet.”
Style came naturally to Edie, who spent hours doing her own makeup and famous “Cleopatra Eyes.” She even became renown for creating her own jazz-influenced dance steps – known as “The Sedgwick” – which Andy Warhol described as “Egyptian, with her head tilting in just the right, beautiful way . . . Edie was the only one who did it – everybody else was doing the Jerk.”
So, as FACTORY GIRL got under way, another task that lay ahead was transforming Sienna Miller, renown for own boho-chic style, completely into Edie. Much of the work fell to costume designer John Dunn, whose previous credits include THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE and Martin Scorsese’s Las Vegas epic CASINO. Dunn had been long been dreaming of the day that a movie about Edie would be made.
“I had fallen in love with Edie years ago and hoped that when a film was made, I would have the chance to work on it,” he says. “With so many people from that period still alive, I knew it could be treacherous waters. But as a style icon she’s one of the most important people of the 1960s. Even today, if you go out on the street you’ll see every third person is wearing something that Edie made famous -- and I was very excited to have the chance to help audiences get the freshness and excitement that Edie was all about.”
Dunn soon found himself nearly overwhelmed with a flood of authentic resources. “It was such an extraordinarily well-documented period – these weren’t people afraid of cameras,” he quips. “But I decided what I wanted to do is to pull out what was most new and shocking about what Edie and the people around her were wearing – while also identifying those looks that really wouldn’t work for today’s audiences.”
For scenes that replicate famous events, Dunn recreated Edie’s iconic outfits right down to the details, but for other scenes, he let his imagination have freer reign. “We did quite a lot of riffing on outfits we thought she might have worn,” he says. “It was a lot of fun to play with that insane sense of fashion but, at the same time, we always tried to make sure the clothes didn’t get in the way of the emotional performances.”
Many of the pieces Sienna Miller wears are vintage. “I tried to use the real thing as much as possible because there’s nothing like those fabrics from the 60s,” Dunn notes, “but we also had to do some reproductions.” The costume designer also worked closely with a number of leading designers – including Betsey Johnson, the whimsical designer for whom Edie Sedgwick was once a house model – and took extensive field trips to high-profile vintage dealers including Paperback Princess and The Way We Were to hunt up authentic pieces.
But the real joy came as Miller used Dunn’s outfits to help transform into the essence of Edie. “Sienna was great casting because she has that same kind of confidence and fashion sense as Edie,” observes Dunn. “You can throw anything on her and she’ll make it look amazing. That’s where the magic really happens – in that extraordinary coming together of casting and character.”
That same magic seemed to occur when Guy Pearce collided with the persona of Andy Warhol. “The first time I saw Guy on the set, I didn’t even recognize him, because he had already morphed into Andy – he was thin, had his hair hanging in his face and he had that famous deadpan expression - it was amazing,” recalls Dunn. “We obviously did some work with hair and makeup but he had already mastered the Warhol look.”
Warhol had always been fascinated by fashion and in the 1950s did numerous fashion illustrations. When it came to his own style, he experimented in ways that were well ahead of the times. He set off his shocking pale skin (the result of a childhood illness) with a dyed-blond haircut that made him instantly recognizable. Says Dunn: “Warhol was very much a chameleon of changing styles. In the period covered in the film, he was moving from a more preppy 50s look into more of a hipster, hustler kind of look with lots of leather and denim.”
Dunn used mainly vintage pieces for Pearce, right down to authentic Beatle boots. Perhaps the biggest challenge came in matching Warhol-style outfits to Pearce’s more modern, leading-man body. “Guy is just much more physically elegant and athletic – whereas Andy had that clumsiness to him,” notes Dunn. “We had to work to make sure the clothes didn’t look too good on him.”
Meanwhile, for Hayden Christensen’s character, Dunn looked to the era’s biggest rock stars for stylistic inspiration. “With Hayden, we wanted to capture that very different kind of physicality and spirit of the rock scene,” he explains. “We used a lot more romantic trappings – leather jackets, lots of vintage scarves and hats – to get in some of the vocabulary of that different world. That kind of cool nonchalance really works well on Hayden.”
When it came to outfitting the various members of the Factory, Dunn let the actors play around with their own unique looks. “We wanted to get that essence of the Factory where people were constantly experimenting with various personas and styles,” he comments, “so what I did was to give each actor his or her own closet of clothes and let them spontaneously create different outfits. It was like playing dress-up. The results were sometimes great and sometimes to my horror, but it was very much in the spirit of Warhol.”
Dunn was impressed by how that spirit seemed to permeate the entire production. “The mood on the set was very different and exciting,” he summarizes. “Nothing was set in advance so it always felt very spontaneous and creative. It helped to capture a sense of what the 60s were all about.”
The Factory Look:
About The Film’s Visual Design
"Art is anything you can get away with."
-- Andy Warhol
The ultimate hip Manhattan hangout for artists and misfits of every stripe, the Factory was almost as iconic as Edie and Andy themselves. The financially savvy Warhol was rumored to have chosen this particular loft – a former hat factory on East 47th Street -- in part because the rent was about $100 a month. Ultimately decorated by photographer Billy Name, the space developed its own inimitable style -- lined with silver foil, silver paint and even silver balloons, with a Valentine red couch at its center – and was captured in a number of Warhol’s mid-60s films. (In 1968, Warhol moved the Factory when the 47th street building was demolished, shortly before he was shot by disgruntled Factory wanna-be Valerie Solanas.)
Although the Factory could never have existed anywhere other than New York, shooting took place both in New York and in the unlikely spot of Shreveport, Louisiana, the historic Southern city with a population of only 200,000.
“It wasn’t until we got to Shreveport that I realized it could work for 1960s New York,” says George Hickenlooper. “It turns out that Shreveport had a big boom in the 50s and early 60s when it was becoming a major oil town and then things kind of stopped. So today, it’s a city that in many ways feels trapped in time – even the parking meters are from the 1960s – which was perfect for creating Manhattan in 1965.”
Another advantage of Shreveport was its insularity. “It was sort of like Method Filmmaking, in that we were so isolated in Shreveport that we really did all become a kind of tight, dysfunctional family like the Factory and developed a dynamic that really worked for the film,” says Hickenlooper.
Ultimately, Hickenlooper and his team were able to transform Shreveport to the point that scenes shot there were later blended into exterior scenes shot in the real New York. “Capturing New York is key to the story because it was so important to Edie – the city was this insurmountable monster that she knew she had to conquer to feel like she had really arrived,” says Golub.
Throughout the film, both imagination and re-creation meld together, much as they did in Warhol’s art world. Hickenlooper developed a mixed-media, montage-like look for the film that pays tribute to Warhol and the entire cinema vérité movement. “The film is shot very much in a documentary style, with allusions to the work of not only Warhol, but other 60s filmmakers like Godard, Truffaut and the Maysles Brothers. Beyond that, one thing Warhol and I share is a fascination with faces – I was always less interested in thinking about style than in trying to expose the characters.”
The task of capturing both Warhol and Hickenlooper’s aesthetics fell to cinematographer Michael Grady. Grady, who had previously shot WONDERLAND for producer Holly Wiersma, was thrilled by the challenges FACTORY GIRL presented. “As someone fascinated by Pop Art and pop culture, I knew the project would be not only fun but thought-provoking,” he says.
Like the cast, Grady soon found himself immersed in a sea of research materials. He had already studied Warhol’s movies as a film school student, but he watched them now with an eye for the tiniest details and started amassing a vast tower of photographic books from the period. He and George Hickenlooper then began discussing a look for the film that would be true to the spirit of the Factory, yet accessible to today’s audiences.
“We talked about using a kind of mixed-media, “found material’ look for the film that gives it the feeling of a period documentary,” Grady explains. “We shot a lot of video and used Super 8, as well as shooting most of the film in Super 16, which is rare for a film of this stature – and we use a lot of black-and-white and reversals.”
Grady also had the unusual challenge of re-creating scenes from such Warhol films as POOR LITTLE RICH GIRL and BEAUTY #2 (in which the personal questions posed to Edie by Chuck Wein are intensified in the version re-created for FACTORY GIRL). Also re-created were several authentic screen-tests, and a fabricated screen test with Edie that reveals her vivacious innocence in the early days of her career. “When we were recreating Andy’s movies we went back to the original film stocks whenever possible,” he explains. “And throughout the entire movie, we sort of had the question of ‘what would Andy do?’ when approaching the scenes, without getting too crazy. A lot of the palette was also influenced by Andy’s art.”
In shooting Sienna Miller and Guy Pearce as Edie and Andy, Grady developed distinctive styles. “Edie is usually in a very wild, chaotic, hand-held fashion whereas Andy is always smoother and more in control,” he notes. As for shooting Sienna Miller, Grady says: “Every time I looked at photographs and films of Edie, I found it completely freaky how much Sienna came to look and sound just like her. I think she’s just incredible for the role.”
Capturing the essence of 1960s Manhattan was another challenge. “A lot of times what seemed impossible would turn out to work very well – period cabs, decked out extras, great costumes and exceptional production design all made it happen,” he says.
There was of course one particular set that had to be absolutely perfect – that of the Factory itself. To bring the Factory back to life in a new century, the filmmakers brought in production designer Jeremy Reed, a rising talent whose credits include HARD CANDY, DEEPWATER and the award-winning “Headless Horseman” TV commercial for Bud Light. Reed earlier studied the History of Art and Architecture at Yale University, so he brought with him a unique insight into Warhol’s world.
Upon reading the FACTORY GIRL script, Reed immediately developed a palette for the film. “I wanted to really focus on reds, because I think the story is very much about Edie’s passion,” he explains. Reed also determined right from the start that he wanted to present the Factory as realistically as possible. “I felt it’s such an icon that I didn’t want to mess around with it,” he says. “So the main challenge was getting the lay-out exactly right and making it work on screen. We literally measured everything out precisely to match the real thing.”
To add to the authenticity, he tracked down photographers who had shot film in the original Factory space. The production also worked with the Warhol Foundation to secure the use of 19 Warhol paintings that Reed hand-picked from the period between 1963 and 1966 to hang on the walls. The result hit those who visited the set like a time machine. Says screenwriter Captain Mauzner: “When I saw Jeremy’s set for the Factory, I was amazed, he had created it right down to a T. After years of looking at the pictures, it was easy to get jaded about it, but when I walked onto that set it completely came alive.” Adds Golub: “The Factory was the centerpiece of Andy’s world and Jeremy completely succeeded in recreating it.”
Reed took more liberties when it came to designing some of the lesser known sets for the film, including Edie’s apartment, in which he developed his red background theme further. He especially enjoyed recreating Andy Warhol’s house, which was the artist’s very private refuge and was not widely photographed. “I had a lot of fun with Andy’s house,” he admits. “We had no idea what it looked like so I was able to create my own idea of what his world would be.”
Reed was able to find catalogs of various Art Noveau and Art Deco pieces auctioned from Warhol’s collection – which he attempted to match or recreate in his designs. “I knew at that time he was just starting to collect art but he didn’t really have a lot of money, so that’s reflected in the design,” he says. “The house is lined with little toys and baby dolls and anything that was kind of whacky and off-center and his bedroom is piled so high with books and magazines, you have to wade through them to get in, and the walls are filled with religious icons. The idea was to have it be unkempt, piled up and giving off the sense of someone in the middle of this radical environment.”
Having imaginatively recreated Edie’s world on the screen, the filmmakers decided to bring the film back to complete reality at the end, creating a tapestry of recent interviews with such figures from Edie’s life as Sam Green, her brother Jonathan as well as the late George Plimpton woven into real-life still shots of Edie taken by Factory photographer Nat Finkelstein.
For George Hickenlooper, bringing the story back to Edie’s haunting and enduring image took everything full circle. “As sentimental as it might sound, we always felt that somehow Edie’s spirit was with us in making this film,” he summarizes.
EDIE SEDGWICK: TIMELINE
1943: Edie is born in Santa Barbara, California to a blue-blooded American family – the 7th of 8 children -- and grows up surrounded by wealth and privilege, but also family dysfunction and mental illness
1962: Edie is hospitalized at Silver Hill Mental Hospital
1964: Edie’s brothers, Minty and Bobby, both die in separate tragic incidents – yet later that year, Edie’s life changes dramatically when she moves from Cambridge, Massachusetts to Manhattan, where she makes a dramatic impact
1965: Edie begins her ascent as a counter-culture superstar after she meets Andy Warhol and starts becoming a regular at The Factory. She soon stars in a succession of Warhol’s films, including POOR LITTLE RICH GIRL, VINYL, BEAUTY #2 and CHELSEA GIRLS
1965: Zooming to the pop culture forefront, and becoming a household name, Edie is featured in Vogue Magazine as a “Youthquaker” and gets a full layout in Life Magazine
1966: The Velvet Underground release the song “Femme Fatale” written about Edie at Warhol’s request
1966: Edie and Andy make a public split. Edie starts living in the Hotel Chelsea, where she becomes part of New York City’s burgeoning folk-rock scene
1967: Edie begins shooting her final film, CIAO MANAHATTAN. That same year she is committed to the hospital for drug addiction and returns to her family in California
1969: Edie meets Michael Post, whom she will later marry
1971: Edie marries Michael Post and attempts to get clean of drugs, but does not succeed. On the night of November 15, 1971, she attends a fashion show at the Santa Barbara Museum. In the morning, her husband finds her dead. The coroner’s report rules that it was an accidental suicide by barbiturate overdose. Edie is buried in the family’s Oak Hill Cemetery
About “The Factory”
Andy Warhol’s 1960s studio, the Factory, was originally created to live up to its name – to be the base of production for all of Warhol’s films, paintings, sculptures and every other product that came to included in his groundbreaking universe of mass-produced art. As a filmmaking studio alone, it was spectacularly prolific, with more than 60 films shot there between 1963 and 1966. These films took experimentation in cinema to new levels. SLEEP had a voyeuristic camera focus on a man in repose for 8 hours. EMPIRE presented endless shots of the Empire State building. Other films, including those starring Edie Sedgwick and the Warhol “superstars,” were shot in a starkly unadorned cinema verité style and broke new limits for sexual explicitness.
The Factory was further intended to become a kind of creative incubator that would give the most iconoclastic artists of Warhol’s time the space and freedom to experiment without limits. But what it also became was the era’s ultimate hipster hangout, where a wild circus of artists and wanna-be artists, movie stars and porn stars, models and drag queens, musicians and drug addicts, socialites and radical bohemians all mixed together in a vertiginous party scene.
Among those who spent time at the Factory were Truman Capote, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Salvador Dali, Martha Graham, Mia Farrow and Allen Ginsberg. The Factory and the films produced there created its own group of “Warhol Superstars,” who included Gerard Malanga, Ondine, Ingrid Superstar, Brigid Berlin (AKA Brigid Polk), Nico, John Cale, Candy Darling, Holly Woodlawn, Viva, Billy Name, Paul Morrissey and Ultra Violet.
But as the scene grew, the Factory also grew increasingly chaotic. The era would soon be altered, due in no small part to the near-fatal shooting of Andy Warhol by Valerie Solanas in 1968.
But the Factory didn’t fade away – instead, it was reborn. Warhol’s new space became known as the Office, a far more sober, work-focused collective that in the 1970s forged an incredibly successful and lucrative output of mass-produced celebrity portraits. In the 1980s, he moved on to the Studio, which was devoted to multimedia and graphic art explorations. Warhol himself passed away in 1987 at the age of 59.