There’s no safer formula than the biopic. It worked for Ray, Walk the Line, and Capote—and it seemed as though it could work for Fur, too, especially since most audiences know Diane Arbus only through her haunting photographs. But director Steven Shainberg was sick of Behind the Music clichés.
“No matter how good Will Smith may be playing Ali, or Ed Harris playing Pollock, that straight-ahead, greatest-hits approach doesn’t work for me,” says Shainberg, who broke through with the kinky indie Secretary. “You already know everything that is going to happen.”
So Shainberg decided to gamble. “This is not a biopic at all,” he says. “It’s an imaginary portrait that tries to capture the otherworldly, hallucinogenic, mythological quality of her photographs.”