I Shot Andy Warhol

"That’s that man hater. I don’t know what Andy sees in her.”

Mary Harron started as a music journalist before moving into PBS documentaries. When she first learned about Valerie Solanas, the woman who shot Andy Warhol, she thought the subject would make an interesting documentary. Unfortunately, the lack of footage and disinterest in being interviewed from people who knew her led Mary and her producing team to realize a feature film may make more sense. Even Warhol himself apparently pushed for the feature focusing on Solanas. Harron co-wrote the script and made it as her debut feature. It’s a tough film to watch about a tough character, but may have been the right sort of project to get her filmmaking career started. Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we kick off our Mary Harron series with her debut 1996 feature I Shot Andy Warhol.

We talk about our backgrounds with Andy Warhol and Solanas and how this story was largely not something we grew up knowing anything about, and how that possibly influenced how we saw the film. We look at Solanas and Lili Taylor’s remarkable portrayal of her, and how challenging it can be to make a film with an unlikeable protagonist. We chat about Jared Harris as Warhol and why he works in this film. We reveal our surprise that Warhol was wearing a wig all this time. We look at Martha Plimpton, Stephen Dorff, and others in the film and how they work. We discuss Solanas’ writing, notably “The SCUM Manifesto” and her play “Up Your Ass,” and how we feel her writing is used in the film to convey her mental state and in general what it says about Solanas and how people saw her. And we chat about the nature of unchecked mental illness and how that darkness can push someone to places like this where murder seems the only way out.

It’s a difficult film with strong performances, but not an easy one to return to. We have a great time talking about it though so check it out then tune in! The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!

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