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
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Jenny Lee may have left, but Miranda Hart and the rest of the midwives deliver the goods

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
music The singer has died aged 70
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams looks concerned as Arya Stark
tv
Arts and Entertainment
photography Incredible images show London's skyline from its highest points
Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
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.

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all