Why was the Catherine Hardwicke movie ‘Thirteen’ so controversial?

Nowadays, there are plenty of film and television shows that depict the contemporary teenager with ‘R’ rated themes’ but for Catherine Hardwicke, things were different 20 years ago.

In fact, before shows like ‘Euphoria’ there was ‘Thirteen’.

A movie about an Honour Student who befriends the school rebel who introduced her to drugs and alcohol.

Even though it debuted at the Sundance Festival in 2003, getting there was no easy task.

Hardwicke told Yahoo recently, “I mean, every studio and every financier said, ‘No, we can’t make it. How could we make a movie that’s gonna be R-rated with an unknown 13-year-old girl in the lead?’ Everybody said no.”

But that is not the case now though. Let’s talk ‘Euphoria’ for a moment.

Similarly, the Emmy-winning show starring sensation Zendaya delves into the heavy and jarring depiction of contemporary female teendom. And, it had the full backing of the HBO network.

catherine hardwicke thirteen movie

Credit Image: Searchlight Pictures

However, it was a different time 20 years ago and this type of content was tabooer than today.

Not only was the film shot in Los Angeles over 24 days and with only a $2M budget but Hardwicke alleges they only paid her $3.00 for it!

“We made it by hook or crook, you know? And for no money. I got paid three bucks the whole time.”

Wow! so, what made the movie such a success?

Is Thirteen Based on a true story?

As a result of Hardwicke and former child star Nikki Reed’s efforts to see the film come to light, the movie still resonates with teens today.

“Even now on TikTok, there’s like 1.6 billion interactions with Thirteen; because it was quite honest and had real emotions, it’s still relevant to a lot of people.”

catherine hardwicke thirteen movie

Credit Image: “Thirteen”
Fox Searchlight

In spite of the initial hesitance toward the film by producers, Hardwicke spoke fondly of the film.

“That’s my little baby. You know, I saw what Nikki Reed was going through at 13… Holly Hunter, Evan Rachel Wood, their performances are still so strong if you watch it now because they put their hearts into it. They felt it. They lived it on the day. So, I love that film.”

Lastly, Hardwicke and Reed are apparently in talks to turn the movie into a saga.

Hardwicke said, “We have talked about [it], I talk to Nikki a lot, We really wanna do a TV series where we see other 13-year-old girls: Thirteen Afghanistan, Thirteen Detroit. You know, let’s see how other 13-year-old girls are navigating their transition into adulthood.”

In contrast to how things were 20 years ago, the theme would fit with how things move nowadays and so it would probably have a lot of potential.

Published by HOLR Magazine