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‘Split’ Star Says M. Night Shyamalan Was Responsible for Her ‘First Nightmares’

Variety logo Variety 1/19/2017 Seth Kelley
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On the Wednesday before Donald Trump’s inauguration, “Split,” M. Night Shyamalan‘s latest horror-thriller (with some humor tossed in) held its premiere at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan.

The cast and creators of the film shared their plans for the upcoming weekend. Betty Buckley has a busy schedule of benefits and protests that will culminate in joining the Women’s March in Washington D.C. Anya Taylor-Joy plans to march with Chelsea Handler at Sundance, while Shyamalan and his wife Bhavna Vaswani said they will probably opt to go see a movie.

And as for James McAvoy? The star said that he’s “not really publicly political,” and added, “By the way, I’m not American, so it’s your f—in’ problem.”

“Split” stars McAvoy as a man with Dissociative Identity Disorder who kidnaps three girls who gradually meet his distinctive identities. Shyamalan talked about how his idea for the film evolved from the time he first imagined McAvoy’s character over a decade ago.

“Well, I’ve always been interested in this disorder: Is it real? What causes it? How do you treat it?” the director said. “There’s much more research now than there was 15 or 16 years ago.”

McAvoy explained that, while preparing for the role, he wanted to talk with someone who lived with the disorder, but his attempts were shut down. “I think they were worried, which is fair enough,” he said.

Instead, the actor found access to people’s stories through diaries and YouTube videos, the latter of which proved to be a positive experience. “I found people with DID could project themselves positively [on YouTube] in a really empowered fashion,” he said.

Taylor-Joy, who stars as the leader of the three girls who are kidnapped, shared that she was not protected from Shyamalan’s earlier work growing up.

“I saw ‘Sixth Sense’ way too young,” she laughed. “I was seven, and he was responsible for a lot of my first nightmares.”

Stars Haley Lu Richardson and Jessica Sula also walked the red carpet, while Ethan Hawke socialized nearby.

After the screening, the party moved a few blocks away to the High Line Hotel’s Hoffman Hall. Guests walked up candle-lit stairs to a gorgeous open room and munched on flatbread pizza, meat and vegetable skewers, and sushi, while a DJ sampled Michael Jackson and Beyonce.

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