Sam Taylor-Johnson: ‘I’ve lost people very dear to me through addiction’
The film-maker on adapting James Frey’s controversial rehab memoir A Million Little Pieces, whether she’s still making art and the joy of chickens.
by Tim Lewis
Since leaving the art world to become a film-maker, Sam Taylor-Johnson has shown impressive range. Her debut feature film, Nowhere Boy (2009), was a tender depiction of John Lennon’s childhood. She followed it with the less tender Fifty Shades of Greyin 2015. Now she’s back with A Million Little Pieces, an adaptation of James Frey’s scandalous semi-memoir about his rehab after years as an alcoholic and drug addict. Taylor-Johnson co-wrote the screenplay with her husband, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who also stars in the film. They live, most of the time, in Los Angeles.
You read A Million Little Pieces when it came out in 2003. It obviously stayed with you?
Yeah, it did. I remember reading it and being really overtaken by it; I think is the right word. I was in the world with him and on the journey. Then when it got optioned by whatever studio it was and it was going to be made into a big movie and there was this director and that director, I’d always have a tinge of jealousy. Even though I wasn’t a film-maker then, I’d be like: “What an amazing piece of material to have.” So I tracked it for a long time and I’d always keep my ear to the ground.