Aronofsky first discovered writer Hubert Selby’s work when he was a Harvard undergrad; the filmmaker became so intrigued with the writer that he not only befriended him, but adapted the ”Last Exit to Brooklyn” author’s short story ”Fortune Cookie” for a film school project. Years later, Aronofsky gives Selby the full feature treatment in a hallucinogenic drama that contrasts a young man’s heroin addiction with his mother’s diet pill dependency.
While Leto says he had to grovel for his part, Burstyn, who wears fat suits throughout the film, got the script and laughed. ”I said to someone, ‘Can you believe what I’m being asked to do for no money?”’ the actress remembers. ”Then I decided before I just threw it out, I’d rent ‘¼’ and see what this guy was up to. After five minutes, I called and said ‘I’ll do it.”’ GOOD SIGN It played to a stunned audience in Cannes. THEN AGAIN Aronofsky may have shot this one in color, but the subject matter couldn’t be blacker – or bleaker.