The Toughest Scene I Wrote: Screenwriter Lucy Alibar on Beasts of the Southern Wild

hushpuppy runs with daddy's medicine - _DSC7087.NEF
Photo: Jess Pinkham/Cinereach Ltd

Over the next few weeks, Vulture is talking to the screenwriters behind 2012’s most acclaimed movies about the scenes they found most difficult to crack. What pivotal sequences underwent the biggest transformations on their way from script to screen? Today, Beasts of the Southern Wild screenwriter Lucy Alibar (who co-wrote the film with director Benh Zeitlin) discusses a scene that she found personally wrenching, as told to Kyle Buchanan:

It’s the scene where Hushpuppy punches her dad and tells him that she hopes he dies, because the movie’s so much about me and my own father. My dad had all these heart problems and I thought that it was because of me; that’s why I originally wrote the play that the movie was based on, to work all that guilt out. As best I could, I wanted to finally come to terms with it and articulate what was going on in my heart.

Writing that scene … I had to run a lot that day. I would write a little bit, go for a run, and come back. It helped me get rid of that extra stuff: those extra voices, those extra judgments. If you have a perfectionist streak — and who doesn’t? — running can kill the perfectionist inside you.

I still cry when I watch that scene. It’s definitely the hardest for me to watch.

Photo: Eric A. Norsoph
Photo: Eric A. Norsoph
Photo: Eric A. Norsoph
Toughest Scene: Beasts of the Southern Wild