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OBSESSED

Becoming Obsessed
Obsessed began as a dark, abstract vision in the mind of Screen Gems' president Clint Culpepper. He had an idea for a scary, dramatic thriller, and he needed a talented writer to bring the vision to life. Culpepper approached writer David Loughery, who wrote Screen Gems' recent hit psychodrama Lakeview Terrace.

Loughery couldn't resist such a thrilling, captivating premise, and signed on to write the script. The story, which Loughery actually describes as a cautionary tale, centers on a happy, successful couple, Derek and Sharon Charles, who find their idyllic lives threatened by Lisa Sheridan, a temp at Derek's office who develops a disturbing infatuation with him. "Obsessed is a dark tale of what can happen in the workplace,” says executive producer Glenn Gainor. "A very perverse love triangle is created, unwillingly.” When Lisa's obsession takes a sinister turn, it's anyone's guess who will come out on top of the twisted triangle…or who will survive at all. 

Screen Gems showed the script to British director Steve Shill, a veteran TV helmer with an incredible list of top shows he's worked on, including The Sopranos, The Wire, The West Wing, Deadwood, Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The Tudors, Rome, ER, Big Love, and Dexter. Shill was immediately intrigued. "It interested me because it's a psychodrama,” says Shill, "which implies genre, camera work, music – all the hallmarks of a great, edge-of-your-seat thriller. And my particular interest was to go deep with the actors into the psychodrama of it all. "Plus,” he adds, "Beyoncé was already attached – it was pretty hard to refuse.”

For dueling femme fatales Sharon and Lisa, the filmmakers needed actresses who could effectively play such emotionally complex, physically demanding roles and could also walk the tightrope of drama and tone that comes with such an audience-rousing, engaging thriller. The filmmakers had been lucky enough to sign iconic recording artist and actress Beyoncé Knowles for the role of Sharon.

Knowles has an accomplished and steadily growing acting resume, but this film marks a new direction for the performer. "This was definitely different for me,” Knowles says. "This is a psychological thriller, but it's not just any thriller. It's very smart and not typical.” Obsessed is Knowles' first purely dramatic role portraying a character other than a singer or performer. "This is the deepest I've ever gone to be prepared for a film,” she says. "It's not about anything but the emotion and psychology of the relationship between Derek and Sharon.”

"I knew that she was ambitious for it,” says director Shill. "I knew she wanted to do it, and it was nothing but a great pleasure to sit there and watch her. She fell on it like a tiger. She brings all the energy to this that she brings to her stage performances, plus a freshness and authenticity – it's absolutely breathtaking. She brought all the skill of someone who's been doing it for 20 years.”

In preparing for her role, Knowles challenged herself to convey as much meaning as possible in each scene. "I wanted to make sure each scene had a purpose, a conflict. I didn't want it to be typical; I wanted it to stand out. I worked closely with the filmmakers, dissecting and understanding the meaning and the purpose of each scene.”

Knowles would sometimes turn to her first passion, music, to help get into the right state of mind for a scene. "She would ask for music sometimes between takes, just to keep her pumped and in the mood,” says Packer. "We didn't have any music, so I would have the crew sing some of her greatest hits.”

Knowles was instantly attracted to the role because of Sharon's strength and empowerment in the story. "Usually in a movie like this, the man in the end comes and saves the day,” Knowles says. "What I loved was how Sharon han

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