How Twist Master M. Night Shyamalan Found His Funny Bone in Split

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M. Night Shyamalan Embraces Humor in The Visit and Split

In this movie about multiple personalities it only makes sense that M. Night Shyamalan wants audiences to experience mixed emotions.

The director best known for plot twists and surprise endings has embraced humor in the horror hit “Split,” picking up on what he felt worked in his previous fright flick, “The Visit.”

“I’m really into that right now,” Shyamalan tells Made in Hollywood reporter Kylie Erica Mar. “‘ The Visit’ and ‘Split’ are meant to be  very funny — kind of like you’re scared and laughing at the same time. I don’t know what that’s called. I’ve got to come up with a term for when you laugh but you’re scared. It’s not just nervous laughter. It’s kind of like inappropriate humor, as you’re giggle, but this is totally wrong.”

Split Stars James McAvoy as a Man with 23 Personalities

In “Split,” James McAvoy channels 23 personalities,  male and female, including a young boy and the actor’s favorite, Patricia, whom he describes as an “ever-so-slightly kinky nun” in high heels. Night, who wrote the script, says he has long been fascinated by multiple personality disorders.

“It’s a very controversial disorder,” he says. “Writing a thriller based on this concept, I want to talk about his disorder, and how powerful and poignant it is, but how amazing. It’s a very extraordinary thing, the connection between the mind and the body and what we’re capable of.”

How M. Night Shyamalan Helped James McAvoy Keep His Personalities Straight in Split

To help McAvoy kept the personalities straight, Shyamalan shot some of the film out of sequence.

“He did mostly do one character on a day,” the director says. “So I make sure he was just the 10-year-boy on this day, then he was the religious fanatic woman on this day, and then the tough guy with OCD on this day.”

But unlike McAvoy, Shymalan can’t commit to a favorite personality.

“He’s so brilliant in the part; it’s hard to say because he’s so powerful in it,” he says. “There is one scene in the movie where James becomes a lot of different personalities, they’re all fighting to come to the consciousness, and he’s so extraordinary in the scene. That’s probably my favorite moment with him. That’s a very difficult scene.”

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