The Black Dahlia
Release Date 15th September 2006
Role Kay Lake
Director Brian De Palma
Writing Credits James Ellroy (novel), Josh Friedman (screenplay)
Co-Stars Josh Hartnett, Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Mia Kirshner
Based on a notorious, unsolved Los Angeles murder case, the central drama of this hard-boiled mystery set in the late 1940s begins when the body of Elizabeth Short, an engagingly beautiful and promiscuous woman in her 20s, is discovered in a vacant lot, cut in half, disemboweled and bearing evidence that she had been tortured for several days before dying. Dubbed "The Black Dahlia" by the press, the victim becomes an obsession for two L.A.P.D. cops, narrator Bucky Bleichert (Josh Hartnett) and his partner, Lee Blanchard (Aaron Eckhart), both ex-boxers who also are best friends and in love with the same woman (Scarlett). Despite a huge effort by the department, leads seem to go nowhere, and Bucky is mortified when he inadvertently helps to suppress evidencethe apparently innocuous fact that a woman he spends many nights with, casually bisexual Madeleine Sprague (Hilary Swank), daughter of a crooked real-estate tycoon, knew "the Dahlia" and slept with her once. Bucky begins to fear for his future, but slowly and dangerously, he learns that his is one of the tamest crimes of corruption committed by the many people he knows. Building like a symphony, this is a wonderful, complicated but accessible tale of ambition, insanity, passion and deceit, with the perfect setting of booming, postwar Los Angeles.
Scarlett's character, Kay Lake, is a mysterious woman with a dark past. She comes off very seductive and alluring but inside she is vulnerable and broken. She is torn between Lee and Bucky. Lee offers her security and friendship but Bucky is the one she is falling in love with. The book describes Kay having "... A strong-pretty face, all mismatched parts: high forehead that made her hairdo look incongruous, crooked nose, full lips and big black-brown eyes".
"I play a character called Kay Lake who is a very complicated girl, she is very broken. She is kind of the girl crying behind her smile. It is a wonderful story, a wonderful book, I think it is going to be a pretty exciting movie. Brian De Palma brought together an amazing crew, right through the cinematographer, costume designer, set designer, and it's a great cast as well: Hilary Swank, Josh Hartnett, and Aaron Eckhart. It was very civil and a totally different experience because we were doing a film noir drama precisely to film noir standards. It is a different kind of focus that Brian has The Black Dahlia has so much in the whole twisted story, so Brian is only focussing on the actors. There's not more than a couple of really gory and violent moments that, of course, Brian does very well. Other than that, it's a completely character driven film.."
"It should be interesting because it is not only a version of a film noir piece, but it is a film noir piece, in every possible way. And so it should be very interesting to see how a modern audience responds to that. But we did the novel justice, and James was on the set and was thrilled, so it should be exciting."
"I think the film is an absolutely true film noir in every sense of the word, as retro as the word might be. Hopefully, itll be interesting to see how audiences respond to not just a version of a film noir piece but an actual film noir piece. We'll see how."
"I play someone named Kay Lake - she's sort of a housewife/ex-prostitute."
Co-star Josh Hartnett on the screen sizzle between him and Scarlett "Probably yeah. She and I, and Hilary (Swank) and I, both have some full-on scenes."
Director Brian De Palma on Scarlett "I'd say she's one of the finest actresses working today, but I think that underestimates her talent."
David Fincher had originally planned to direct.
Mark Wahlberg had initially signed on to play Lee Blanchard opposite Josh Hartnett, but scheduling conflicts prevented him from taking part.
Maggie Gyllenhaal and Eva Green turned down parts in the film.
James Ellroy's book was based in part on the true story of the murder of Elizabeth Short, an aspiring actress who'd moved to Hollywood in the late 1940s from Medford, Massachusetts. She never managed to break into films as she disappeared sometime around the beginning of January 1947. On 15 January 1947 her horribly mutilated corpse was found in an empty lot in South Central Los Angeles. Her murderer was never publicly identified or apprehended. More information about the case may be found at Beth Short .com.