Chloë Sevigny has been keeping it real indie for decades now. In the years since she shot to fame following her role in the 1995 cult classic, NC-17-rated Kids, in which she plays a teen who contracts HIV even though she's only had sex once. In the years since, Sevigny has turned down higher-profile mainstream roles as well as bigger paydays. Instead, she's continued working on art house projects with some of the world's most acclaimed directors in that realm, a few of whom have been called out for their questionable treatment of women.
Her infamous Brown Bunny oral sex scene with director Vincent Gallo, which was reportedly the real deal and not faked, left her telling Playboy she'd "probably have to go to therapy at some point." She also worked with (bizarre Hitler joke-making) director Lars von Trier, who is often accused of misogynistic tendencies toward his female actors, on Manderlay and Dogville. Kids director Larry Clark has been accused of exploiting his young characters. And Terry Richardson, who got Sevigny to dress up like him for a shoot where they made out on camera in 2011, has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women.
“‘I don’t know if I’d call them exploiters,’ Sevigny says carefully. ‘What I would say is that the most damaging thing about working with so-called auteurs is that I now have a total disdain for directors.’ She grimaces. ‘And it’s very strong, very deep. It’s made me not enjoy acting so much any more. Writer-directors, in particular, are really hard to work with. And for so many years, that’s who I worked with.’”
That might be why we've seen more of Sevigny on television, a medium that puts a premium on writers over directors, in recent years. She won a Golden Globe for her turn in Big Love, and turned up in the second and fifth seasons of American Horror Story.
And rather than continue working for those "auteurs," Sevigny seems to be more interested in helming some of her own projects, partly because TV work has allowed her to make money to buy a home and live a more comfortable life, free to pursue the projects she wants.
"That's the other problem with indie movies: you're not banking big bucks. So I lived check to check until Big Love came along. I keep all the stubs in the dresser up at my mom's house," she told The Guardian.
Sevigny's directorial debut, the short film Kitty, is "based on a Paul Bowles short story about a little girl who dreams of becoming a kitten and finds herself transformed into one." According to New York, is set to debut at Cannes next week.