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‘Instinct’ Star Carice van Houten on How She Had to ‘Dig Deep’ to Play Prison Therapist to a Serial Rapist (Exclusive Video)

Toronto 2019: ”I saw it as an abstract possibility to talk about sexuality and power,“ director Halina Reijn also tells TheWrap

“Instinct” star Carice van Houten says she had to “dig deep within” herself to play her character in the drama, in which she plays a prison therapist who falls in love with her patient, a serial rapist.

“The role is not, per se, very sympathetic and it’s a challenging role because there is no way you can hide behind anything,” van Houten told TheWrap’s Steve Pond at the Toronto International Film Festival. “It’s so raw, so I had to dig deep within myself and I liked that. It’s a very complex, very layered character. I was very hungry for something like that again.”

Director Halina Reijn got the idea for the drama after watching a news program about relationships that were formed in prison between therapists and criminals, and she immediately called her friend van Houten about it.

“I just thought, how is it possible that someone who studied for it, who knows better than anybody else how dangerous these people can be, how manipulative they can be, and how is it that she or he falls for the other person?” Reijn explained. “I saw it as an abstract possibility to talk about sexuality and power, not to make a social drama about prison or anything.”

Esther Gerritsen wrote the screenplay for the film that first premiered at the Locarno Film Festival in August and then screened at TIFF earlier this month.

The film is about a therapist who falls in love with a serial rapist, despite her expertise and experience. Marwan Kenxari also stars.

Reijn also spoke on TheWrap’s female filmmaker panel at TIFF alongside Ellen Page (“There’s Something in the Water”) and Kasi Lemmons (“Harriet”).

Watch the video above.