Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Most Difficult Scene To Film For Nocturnal Animals Will Surprise You

Fashion designer Tom Ford pivoted his focus to filmmaking when he directed the 2009 movie, "A Single Man." While speaking to Deadline in 2016, the 60-year-old shared that quite a few members of the film industry did not believe he could pull off such a feat, and he ended up spending his own money to pay for the endeavor. Despite Ford's inexperience as a filmmaker, the movie ended up being critically acclaimed, paving the way for him to continue in his newfound passion. From there, Ford's following film, "Nocturnal Animals," premiered in 2016. 

"Nocturnal Animals" revolves around a writer named Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal), who gifts his ex-wife Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) a manuscript that appears to be a metaphor for their failed marriage. Throughout the film, Susan finds her husband's beautifully crafted — yet graphic — work to be both mesmerizing and horrifying. During a 2016 interview with Screen Daily, Ford, who was both the movie's director and screenwriter, shared that one disturbing scene was as hard to shoot as it was to watch.

The movie's most traumatic scene was the hardest to film

In "Nocturnal Animals," the plot of Edward's novel begins with Tony Hastings (also played by Jake Gyllenhaal), his wife, Laura Hastings (Isla Fisher), and their teenage daughter, India Hastings (Ellie Bamber) traveling to Marfa, Texas. While on the road at night, Tony honks at a car, which enrages the driver, Ray Marcus (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). The family is then forced into a precarious situation. After some struggling, Marcus and one of his associates capture India and Laura, while another gang member incapacitates Tony. 

When Susan (Edward's ex-wife) reads the scene, she finds it so disturbing that she slams the manuscript shut while trying to catch her breath. To calm down, she calls her current husband, Hutton Morrow (Armie Hammer), who is on a business trip, only to realize that he is there with another woman.

The scene from Edward's book, which is depicted on screen, was the biggest set piece of the movie, and Ford asserted to Screen Daily that it was "the most time-consuming exercise and most technically difficult" out of the entire film, particularly for one of the actors involved.

Tom Ford explained why the scene was difficult

Tom Ford also mentioned the violent scene during a January 2017 interview with Awards Daily. He explained that the moment on the highway was "shot very differently than how [they] shot the rest of the movie." The director noted that the scene was filmed on a handheld camera, and "BB lights which were up on gigantic poles" were used to mimic "very bright moonlight." He explained that due to the cost and the precarious placements of the BB lights, the film's production crew decided to "keep the lights where they were and flip the cars around and move them to the other side of the highway to get the different camera angles."

Now, the technical aspects of shooting such a scene were difficult enough, but perhaps the hardest part of the process was the traumatic nature of the events depicted. This was hugely true for the actors. In an interview with Deadline, Ford shared his experiences regarding the physicality of the scene, noting that Jake Gyllenhaal, in particular, had difficulty with the sequence, as he had different impulses than his meek character, who does not retaliate when Ray Marcus attacks his family. "It was hard for Jake, and it was very physical," Ford explained. "Those guys really were grabbing, and you know Jake's natural instinct would be to punch him." The director also noted that Gyllenhaal got in some serious cardio while shooting the harrowing scene, in order to deal with the stress of shooting it.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).