Gaby Hoffmann Stars In ‘Lyle,’ A Lesbian Ode To ‘Rosemary’s Baby’: Interview

by Erika W. Smith


The 1968 horror film Rosemary’s Baby is very much a classic — and for good reason. Its psychological take on the genre touches on real-life fears like claustrophobia, pregnancy-related body horror and gaslighting.


Whether you’re a Rosemary’s Baby fan or you’ve had trouble enjoying the film before (does Mia Farrow’s involvement cancel out noted rapist Roman Polanski’s?), we have a new movie for you: Lyle, described as a “lesbian ode to Rosemary’s Baby.” If that doesn’t reel you in, get this: it stars Gaby Hoffmann (Girls, Transparent) and was directed by feminist horror filmmaker Stewart Thorndike . Plus, it’s out today on Amazon and iTunes!


We called Gaby and Stewart earlier this month to talk about Lyle, the horror genre and Transparent:


I watched Lyle last night and it was so spooky, I loved it! How did the idea come about?


Stewart: The story goes like this: I was dating Ingrid [Jungermann], who plays Gaby’s partner in the movie. I wanted to have a kid, and she didn’t want to have a kid, and I got mad and made a movie about it.


Oh, wow! How did she feel about that?


Stewart:  She’s a filmmaker too, so anything is fair game. It’s funny, because she’s about to make her first feature film and it’s about living with her ex who wants to have a kid. So she’s getting her revenge!


Gaby: I think the evidence is in Ingrid’s great performance. She was not only supportive of that film being made, but she gave her all to that character.


Did you feel a connection to Rosemary’s Baby before you made Lyle?


Stewart: I’d always loved the film, but I didn’t set out to mirror it in any way. I realized it after I’d written, and that didn’t bother me. I thought it was cool that they are similar.


Gaby: I think I saw Rosemary’s Baby when I was 10, but I haven’t seen it since. I’ve been wanting to since we made Lyle. But I am really not interested in horror movies. If it weren’t Stewart, I wouldn’t have made it. It was like walking blind into a strange and terrifying place, and it was awesome.


Stewart, I read that you wrote the role with Gaby in mind.


Stewart: I did. Gaby’s boyfriend and my ex-boyfriend made a movie together, and I don’t know if the screening was where we first met, but I remember having a really strong feeling like, “I want to work with her.”


Gaby: We’d known each other for a few years by the time we made the movie, but we didn’t know each other well. When she proposed that we work together, I was nothing but excited. And it was really one of the most thrilling experiences of my life. I learned so much about acting and about myself and it was so, so fun. And now I feel like we really know each other.



Gaby, you filmed Lyle before you were pregnant. Is it strange to watch it after you’ve had a child?


Gaby: Everything is strange and terrifying in the world when you have a child! I’m walking through a canyon in California right now and I’m like, “We’re living in an apocalyptic desert with no water and my baby is on my back.” The whole world is terrifying.


But it was fun. The first time I saw Lyle, we were at a screening in LA and I was seven or eight months pregnant, and my boyfriend put six coats on my belly during the screening because he was really nervous about our poor baby hearing her mother screaming and crying for an hour and a half. And it was really fun for us to get onstage and do this Q&A with this big belly. The whole audience was terrified!


Gaby, you filmed giving birth in Lyle, and then you filmed giving birth on Girls, and then you actually gave birth in real life. That’s all within a year?


Gaby: Closer to two years. We made “Lyle” about a year and a half before I gave birth in real life. But yeah, a very short span of time. It’s a little bit weird. I felt as well prepared as you can possibly be going into childbirth. I was really into doing all these scenes. If my acting career goes south, I’ll become a stunt double for labor scenes!


Stewart, I’ve seen you described as a “feminist horror filmmaker.” What does that mean to you?


Stewart: If you’re putting women in movies and you’re making movies about women, that’s what I mean. I don’t think I have a social agenda outside of the fact that the stories I’m drawn to aren’t told as often. I don’t categorize horror as being too different from dramas or anything else. I think almost every movie – if it’s a good movie – has some element of horror in it.


Gaby, we love Transparent and we love Girls. Is there anything you can tell us about either upcoming season?


Gaby: The upcoming season of Girls, I’m not really in. Transparent will have a lot more shenanigans. I’ll tell you that I get to make out with two very lovely ladies this season. And I do a whole lot of strange soul-searching and hallucinating and dream-having. It’s going to be a wild season, packed with all sorts of things that I can’t tell you about, but your jaws will be on the floor!


And Stewart, what’s next for you?


Stewart: I’m making two more female-driven horror films, and the second one is called The Stay. It’s about a haunted TED Talk.


Is there anything else we should mention?


Stewart: I always have people, especially women, telling me that they don’t like horror. I think that’s going to change. People are starting to do more things with that genre, more nutritious, meaningful stuff.


Gaby: I love that! Nutritious horror.


Image credits: Breaking Glass Pictures




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