Film: Body of evidence

In Eyes Wide Shut, Abigail Good plays a `Mysterious Woman'. But that's not the half of it.

A FEW WEEKS ago The Independent ran an interview with Julienne Davis, the little-known actress who plays the part of Mandy, the druggie prostitute, in Eyes Wide Shut. Mandy's role is small but pivotal - when Tom Cruise's doctor William Harford is "redeemed" by a masked woman at an orgy, thereby risking her life, he believes it's Mandy, repaying him for his earlier help. A character at the end of the film also suggests that Mandy and this "mysterious" woman are one and the same. The general impression, therefore, is that it's Julienne's body we see at the orgy.

So imagine our queasy surprise when we received a press release from a PR company saying the equally obscure Abigail Good was in fact "the mysterious woman" and that it's she who cries out "Let him go! I'm ready to redeem him".

Not surprisingly, Abigail was feeling overlooked. But the woman in this scene wears a face mask. How on earth could we tell that body didn't belong to Julienne?

Well, thank goodness for cinephiles - in an ocean of confusion they offer a surfboard of sanity. Sight and Sound editor Nick James knew the Mandy we see at the beginning of the film was not the same woman as that at the orgy. How? "because they had different pubic hair". Mystery solved.

So how did the confusion arise? Thanks to Warners obsession with keeping the film's plot a secret, Julienne's comments on her role have all been vague. We quickly get her on the phone - did Abigail take over from Davis? "No" she says, outraged, "it's all me. Abigail Good was just an extra. And anyway, she's English." (the mysterious woman has an American accent). "It's hilarious," says Julienne, sounding not at all amused, "It happens a lot, people try to take credit for things they haven't done".

Back to Abigail. "Ooh" she says, with an excited shiver, "I'm the skeleton in her closet". According to Abigail, Julienne (who has talked in interviews about her wonderful relationship with Kubrick) was "a difficult girl to work with. And she was always late."

For whatever reason, though both actresses were miked up, it was Abigail who got to play the mysterious woman and speak the lines. Julienne does appear at the orgy, but she's just one of the many masked women in the background.

But it's definitely Julienne in the early scenes and in the morgue at the end? "Yeah," shrugs Abigail, "all that had been shot months before. But I spent a year working on that movie. I was the one at the wrap. My scenes with Tom were the last Stanley ever shot and I got a credit, as the mysterious woman." (Warners are prepared to confirm this). Stanley's nephew even signed a photograph of me on the back with the words `To the mysterious woman who was later revealed to be the wonderful Abigail'".

Her version of events paints a weird picture of life on the Kubrick set. And as squabbles go, it's not entirely dignified. Neither actress could be said to have done well out of the deal. Julienne gets to utter a few words, Abigail a few more but both are there primarily as tits and ass. The secrecy surrounding the plot has possibly worked to Julienne's advantage, but when Abigail boasts that Kubrick "liked my long legs, he preferred the way I walked...she's taking the glory for my body" it's hard not to wince.

And then we get another call from Abigail. She's been talking to Leon Vitali, Kubrick's assistant, and he's not happy about our little chat. "They're all concerned it's bad publicity" says Abigail, "and I really don't want to offend anybody. I don't want to be seen to be using Stanley, or trying to make him look bad." She's really panicked. "I'd rather get no publicity at all."

But does it make Kubrick look bad? Abigail admits she's astonished Kubrick thought he could "get away" with the deception. The two women's bodies really are quite different. Easy to take this as an insult, to the actresses as much as the audience. Did he think one pair of breasts pretty much the same as the next?

Maybe not. There's a strange circularity at work here. Several years ago, while Kubrick was holed up in Gerrard's Cross, an opportunistic lookalike (who actually looked nothing like him) cruised the bars and cafes of Soho pretending to be him. In his final film this bizarre phenomenon is played out on screen - two characters posing as one.

So, could be there's another way of looking at all this. The really shocking thing about Eyes Wide Shut is that it's so devoid of mystery, so devoid of dark, hidden pockets. The use of a different woman to play "the mystery woman" squeezes a little chaos back into the mix. It turns the film on it's head, a fallen woman's noble act transformed into a gesture without consequence - a piece of dreamy theatre far more in tune with Arthur Schnitzler's wonderfully dazed and confusing novel. In splitting Mandy and the mysterious woman in two, maybe Kubrick wasn't letting himself get sloppy, wasn't trying to get away with anything. Maybe he just wanted to check we were keeping our eyes wide open, so we could enjoy a final, profound in-joke.

Arts and Entertainment
The Rolling Stones at the Roundhouse in London in 1971: from the left, Keys, Charlie Watts, Mick Taylor and Mick Jagger

Music ...featuring Eric Clapton no less
Arts and Entertainment
In the dock: Dot Branning (June Brown); Union boss claims EastEnders writers are paid less than minimum wage

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Roger Christian wrote and directed the 1980 Black Angel original, which was lost until 2011

film
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Green (Hand out press photograph provided by Camilla Gould)

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones reviewWarning: Spoilers aplenty
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Healy of The 1975 performing on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, at Worthy Farm in Somerset

music
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe Withnail and I creator, has a new theory about killer's identity
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvDick Clement and Ian La Frenais are back for the first time in a decade
Arts and Entertainment
The Clangers: 1969-1974
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emilia Clarke could have been Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey but passed it up because of the nude scenes

film
Arts and Entertainment
A$AP Rocky and Rita Ora pictured together in 2012

music
Arts and Entertainment
A case for Mulder and Scully? David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in ‘The X-Files’

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Impressions of the Creative Community Courtyard within d3. The development is designed to 'inspire emerging designers and artists, and attract visitors'

architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

    ‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

    Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
    Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

    Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

    But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
    Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

    Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

    Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
    The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

    The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

    ... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
    Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

    Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

    Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
    12 best olive oils

    Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

    Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
    Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

    Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

    There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
    England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

    England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

    In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)