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The NC-17 Rated Box Office Flop That Almost Ruined Chloe Sevigny's Career Career

Actress and model Chloë Sevigny appeared in an extremely risqué NC-17 movie early in her career ... so did it almost destroy her future?

"The Brown Bunny," helmed by controversial writer-director Vincent Gallo in 2004, stars Gallo himself alongside Sevigny and features an incredibly explicit scene — so explicit, in fact, that it reportedly wasn't simulated as sex scenes normally are. Though Sevigny courted her own controversy after playing Daisy in the movie, she says it didn't hurt her career long-term, but that it was difficult to deal with in the immediate aftermath.

"I got my first studio film after that," Sevigny told W Magazine in a 2017 profile that partly focused on her divisive role in "The Brown Bunny." "I'd never been offered a studio film. It was Zodiac. I don't think it really hurt me, necessarily. I mean, it hurt me, in a lot of ways ... Some relationships have had trouble with it. Of course, my mom and I don't talk about it."

In a different interview with The Guardian in 2016 Sevigny claims that "The Brown Bunny" didn't adversely affect her career whatsoever. For example, she says that she wasn't actually "dropped" by William Morris, her agency at the time, but that someone replaced her original agent and she didn't like the new guy ("So I left. I mean, I left them. They didn't fire me"). Asked if she thinks Gallo stirred up a lot of the fuss himself, Sevigny said she believed he did: "I think Vincent is very good at whipping up hysteria. He enjoys all that, but it was not so much fun for me. Not fun when it was happening and still not so fun now. Really not."

The Brown Bunny courted major controversy when it was released

What, exactly, is so controversial about "The Brown Bunny" after all? The trippy, strange movie focuses on Vincent Gallo's character, motorcycle racer Bud Clay, as he reminisces about his former lover Daisy (Chloë Sevigny). As he travels to see her parents and to her old house, he envisions Daisy, at which point Sevigny appears onscreen and performs several sex acts, including fellatio; concerns largely arose due to the fact that many critics and moviegoers wondered if Sevigny, who performs the act herself, was coerced by Gallo in any way. Years later, Sevigny told Playboy she was proud of the film, but that she didn't think she wanted to participate in many more explicit sex scenes.

To say critics initially disliked "The Brown Bunny," sex scene aside, is an understatement; Roger Ebert famously wrote a scathing passage about it, in fact. "In May of 2003 I walked out of the press screening of Vincent Gallo's "The Brown Bunny" at the Cannes Film Festival and was asked by a camera crew what I thought of the film," he recalled in 2004. "I said I thought it was the worst film in the history of the festival. That was hyperbole — I hadn't seen every film in the history of the festival — but I was still vibrating from one of the most disastrous screenings I had ever attended." Ebert does admit in this piece, though, that after Gallo made some edits, he changed his mind about the divisive film.

Chloë Sevigny's acting career survived — and she's still working on major projects

Though "The Brown Bunny" was certainly a risky career move Chloë Sevigny has remained booked and busy throughout the years. Long before "The Brown Bunny," Sevigny appeared alongside Hilary Swank in the 1999 drama "Boys Don't Cry," which earned her an Oscar nomination — and as she pointed out to W, she did book a role David Fincher's critically adored crime drama "Zodiac" shortly thereafter, playing the wife of Jake Gyllenhaal's lead character Robert Graysmith. In 2012, Sevigny teamed up with Ryan Murphy for the second season of his anthology series "American Horror Story," titled "Asylum," and she went on to appear in "American Horror Story: Hotel" three years later. 

Sevigny has appeared in everything from shows like "Russian Doll" (and star Natasha Lyonne's small-screen follow-up "Poker Face") and movies like "Lizzie" (a biopic of Lizzie Borden where Sevigny played the accused murderess) and the 2022 cannibal film "Bones and All." This year, she reunited with Murphy for the series "Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans," where she plays real-life American socialite and author C.Z. Guest. "The Brown Bunny" and its controversy notwithstanding, Sevigny remains a Hollywood staple — and she'll likely stay one for years to come.