How Taylor Swift’s ‘All Too Well’ Film Channeled Her ‘Girlhood Calcifying Into This Bruised Adulthood’

December 20, 2022

Swift sat down with Martin McDonagh to reflect on her recent short film

As Swifties already knew: Taylor Swift dived into her deep, personal heartbreak on “All Too Well,” making the Red song an all-time favorite. The pop star recently sat down with director Martin McDonagh for Variety to discuss directing her All Too Well: The Short Film.

“Emotionally, I was going through exactly what the short film depicts, and I think that time is such an incredible asset to use when we have these stories that are hard to tell,” she told the Banshees of Inisherin director. “Because it’s good if a story is hard to tell, that means it’s incredibly emotionally potent, but it’s impossible to tell it with perspective and truth if you’re in it sometimes.”

“I think there’s a moment when you’re 19 or 20 where your heart is so susceptible to just getting broken, getting shattered, and your sense of self goes out the window so quickly, and it’s such a formative age,” she later added. “I wanted to tell that story, too, about sort of girlhood calcifying into this bruised adulthood.”

In the Variety interview, Swift discussed how Sadie Sink’s “presence” in Stranger Things made her a go-to and that she had written the screenplay for All Too Well with Sink and Dylan O’Brien “in mind.”

“The chapters in the short film, those end up being chapters in a book that she one day writes. It’s structured narratively in a way that I felt had to be different than any music video I’ve made,” Swift said. “I wanted people to be in that world with these two characters.”

The new Variety interview comes after Swift released a behind-the-scenes video of her directing the film. In it, Swift shines as a director, giving directives to the smallest things like hand placements and wording.

“We should always see a falseness to your smile. It should be contrasted by how real your smile in the last one was,” Swift tells Sink before she crushes the scene: “Oh my god! That was amazing.”

In the video, Swift described the emotions she wanted Sink’s character to portray: “In the old her, there’s a stoicism and seriousness, and stillness but a sadness. She’s fine, but she’s not who we met… Like we’re watching a person come of age.”

“All Too Well” was originally released in 2012 on Red, which Swift has re-recorded as part of her massive project to reclaim her master recordings. The long-teased 10-minute original version of the track appeared on Red (Taylor’s Version) this time around, which features even more biting lyrics about the relationship that inspired it.

The song specifically goes hard on the age difference. Swift was on the cusp of 21 when she was in this relationship with an older partner.