Movies & TV

Here's the Edited Scene That Saved Red Sparrow From an R Rating

The garrotting shots that never made it to the big screen
IMAGE 20th Century Fox

Jennifer Lawrence's new spy thriller Red Sparrow is a violent, ambiguous, stylish filmand director Francis Lawrence wanted it to be even more violent.

The movie is adapted from Jason Matthews' novel of the same name and follows Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence), a former prima ballerina who is enlisted against her will as a "sparrow"a trained seductress who is taught to use her body as a weapon by the Russian secret service.

We already knew that the film had to be re-edited to avoid getting an R rating, and that the cut scene was a particularly gruesome one, but now Francis Lawrence has told Digital Spy exactly what was removed to get the lower rating.

So, before we go on, here's your spoiler/description of violent scenes ahead warning. Don't read below the picture if you're squeamish (or drinking).

"It's the only edit I made for any territory," Francis told us. "They said, 'Hey, if you just lose a little bit in this one scene, you can get this rating, which will help financially'.


"It's the first scene in the hotel where she goes to visit Ustinov (Kristof Konrad) and she's up there, and he gets garrotted and the garrotte starts to cut into his neck and it starts to drip quite a lot of blood and it starts to drip down onto her chest and neck, and we trimmed that down by just a couple of shots and shortened it, and that's it."

To save you a Google search, "garrotting" means killing someone by strangling them with a length of wire or cord, or something similar.

According to the British Board of Film Classification, the scene demonstrated "strong sadistic violence" and was re-edited to avoid the 18 rating.

Fortunately, Francis added that he was completely fine with cutting bits of the film here and there, so long as it didn't impact the feel of the movie overall.

"That didn't bother me at all," the director continued. "If suddenly, to get this one jump in rating I was having to cut a lot of things, if it started to feel like it was really going to augment the tone of the movie and the feel of the movie and the dynamics of the movie, I wouldn't have done it.

"But to really pinpoint a couple of shots and say shorten a few of these things, I was 100% fine with that."

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Previously, Francis told Digital Spy how he felt "honestly panicked" at the thought of giving J-Law overtly sexual and nude scenes in the film.

"Years earlier she said to me that she didn't have any interest in doing nudity or overt sexuality and I didn't know if she still felt that way," he said.

"There was no convincing but there was definitely a lot of talking about it to make sure we got it right."

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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