Behind the scenes of “A Bigger Splash,” Starring Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton

On Set: A Bigger Splash

In Luca Guadagnino‘s “A Bigger Splash,” a stylish remake of Jacques Delray’s 1969 “La Piscine” in theaters May 4, the bedroom intrigue is relocated from the Côte d’Azur to the remote Sicilian island of Pantelleria. Against the backdrop of a bohemian villa atop a rocky hill, an aging rock diva (Tilda Swinton) and her boyfriend’s (Matthias Schoenaerts) languorous holiday is turned upside down by the arrival of an ex-lover (Ralph Fiennes) and his daughter (Dakota Johnson). Haunted by the hot winds, scorched by the sun, and bedeviled by wine, the foursomes’ inhibitions disappear, as a soup of sexual tension—everyone wants to sleep with everyone it seems, including father and daughter—begins to boil over, turning a glamorous swoon into a feverish dream. Here, Guadagnino takes us behind the scenes.


“I am making Dakota listen to a piece of music by my composer, John Adams. (That’s Matthias behind her). This often happens with me—I want to use John’s work before I start shooting the movie, so I shoot the scene to the timing of the piece.”


“A portrait of me, Tilda, and Dakota. I’m in a terrible tank top, again. Anyway, a lovely moment. Tilda and I are like brother and sister; and Dakota was such a great discovery. I love them so much that, yes, we want to be together again, in my next film Suspiria … and again and again.”


“These are the monitors showing Tilda, as Marianne Lane, going to talk to the police about an incident that happens. You can see the power of Tilda’s face. Pantelleria is such a specific space. I wanted the actors to be put in jail by the strength of the place. We were bound to the island for two and a half months.”


“I’m directing Lily McMenamy and Aurore Clement. They were the comic relief of the movie, these socialites they were playing. I’ve directed Aurore in the past, and I discovered Lily backstage at a Fendi show in Milan. She was singing a song from my previous movie, I Am Love. We became instant friends.”


“I’m showing how Ralph should act with his daughter, played by Dakota. They have a tricky father-daughter thing. I see behind them one of my greatest collaborators on the right, Fernanda Perez on the right, who is the makeup artist. Much praise to her work on this film.”


“In this picture you see Manolo Garcia, the hairdresser in the dark sweater and hat. We did I Am Love together, and will work again on my next feature. You see Tilda is wearing a scarf; the wind was so wild it would’ve destroyed her hair.”


“A close-up of Dakota in the pool. See the concentration, the intelligence in her eyes. She was shooting a scene where she is floating on the water as her father, played by Ralph Fiennes, is dancing to the Rolling Stones.”


“I’m very tired, and a little bit burned. It’s interesting how golden Tilda is in this picture. I remember we shot a scene by a lake at the very beginning of the shoot, but the actors didn’t have time yet to get very tan, so we had to go back and shoot it again at the end.”


“This is the last day of the shoot—a concert scene. We just got this beautiful Dior jumpsuit that I am adjusting on Tilda. We shot the concert in a stadium in front of 70,000 people. Thrilling! But her character is not really based on Bowie. It’s Chrissie Hynde, it’s Roisin Murphy. But Bowie is our DNA in general, so he is everywhere.”