Sissy Spacek Thinks Her Carrie Performance Would Have Been Nothing Without Piper Laurie

Brian De Palma's "Carrie" is arguably more of an important, relevant horror film today than it was during its original release in 1976. The character arc of Carrie White is one of the most shocking and severe transformations in cinema, and it remains just as powerful today. Carrie represents the bullied outcasts and the quiet masses who never feel any level of acceptance whatsoever. In a decade of legendary performances, Sissy Spacek's portrayal of Carrie remains one of the most memorable acting accomplishments of the seventies. It's tragically poignant at times, and then, eerily triumphant when she enacts her psychic revenge during the bloody, fireball finale. 

In early roles, John Travolta, Amy Irving, Nancy Allen and William Katt play high school bullies who have no idea what's in store for them. Those interactions with the other actors surely put Spacek in the right headspace to play the victim. But her real muse during shooting was Piper Laurie, who plays Carrie's overly religious, abusive mother. In an interview with Coming Soon, Spacek was quick to praise her co-star's acting abilities. "Piper Laurie was just outrageously brilliant!," she exclaimed. "Piper was a young film starlet back in the golden age of Hollywood and then she retired from movies and went to New York and became a star of the theatre. Carrie was her return to the silver screen."

A Magical Chemistry Together

The most disturbing scenes in "Carrie" are, in fact, the intimate, torturous clashes between Carrie and her unhinged mother, Margaret. There's a frightening sense of claustrophobia in their candlelit home making Carrie feel trapped in an environment where she should feel safe. Her mother is supposed to be a calming influence and so are the crosses on the wall. Instead, they're both instruments of fear. Spacek was enraptured by Piper Laurie's performance and her dedication to the craft (via Coming Soon):

"I loved her and her power as an actress. I don't know where that power came from. It came from the depth of her soul and it would have been a very different movie without her and my performance would have been nothing without Piper. We just had a magical connection."

That intensity is nowhere near as palpable in Stephen King's original novel. Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie breathed new life into the mother-daughter relationship from the book and created some serious on screen fireworks. Carrie's powers are dormant until she's publicly humiliated on prom night, but the hatred for her mother is what truly awakens her terrifying psychic abilities. 

For a horror film that's credited with creating the modern jump scare thanks to its shocking ending, Piper Laurie may have actually been the most frightening thing in "Carrie" by the time the credits roll. "Everyone was always shocked and thrilled with the choices she made," reflected Spacek. "She was truly scary."

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