The video, directed by Melina Matsoukas ("Hard," "S&M," "Rude Boy," "Rockstar 101"), tells the story of two young people driven not only by their dangerous passion for one another, but an equally dangerous passion for drugs. While their experiments with drugs certainly plays a big part in the story, their abusive relationship also helps weave the tale of the couple, played by Rihanna and British model/boxer Dudley O'Shaughnessy.
Rihanna has always been open about her own struggles in an abusive relationship, notably her relationship with Chris Brown, which culminated in a 2009 assault. In the two-plus years since the headline-making experience, Rihanna has moved the narrative toward her musical endeavors, which includes her forthcoming album, Talk That Talk, but the video also reminds fans of the singer's past, one she's never shied away from discussing.
When Rihanna sat down with MTV News in late 2009, she said she hoped young women would learn from her. "One of the big things for me, I always want to help young women and give them insight on different life experiences," she explained. "One of those things is going through an abusive relationship like I did. But that's one thing for me. So I don't want to be the big domestic-violence spokesperson, because that doesn't define who I am. But if I can help young women in any way, and that being one of the things they need help with, then I'll do that."
During the interview, Rihanna said she thought both she and Brown could grow as a result of the assault. "I know that he's going to take away something positive out of this entire experience," she said. "It was a life-changing experience for both of us. The best way that we can both win is if we come out learning from it and sharing with others, so they don't have to go through it like we did."
Rihanna's personal story had already been pegged to that experience when she was approached to record with Eminem on "Love the Way You Lie" in 2010 and the sequel for her album, Loud, "Love the Way You Lie (Part II)."
"I fell in love with it," she explained about making "Part II," noting she was originally unsure whether she could top the original. "We recorded it, then we did another version to the stripped-down version with drums, then we did another version with drums and Eminem. And then that was the one that just felt really good."
In the end, Rihanna said it was worth it because the song helped young women struggling with the same issues. "They got really emotional, and you automatically connect, because now you both have in common [something] that you wouldn't have been able to know if you didn't have this song to bridge that," she said. "This song, it gave a voice to victims. But what I really enjoy about this song is not only how cleverly written it is ... but the fact that [Eminem] confronts himself on this record is the biggest thing for me."
As she approaches the release of her new album, it seems Rihanna wants to leave all the talk about Brown in the past. "It was too much anger.
I'm really excited to see the breakthrough he's had in his career," she explained to Esquire. "It's incredible to see how he pulled out the way he did, even when the world seemed like it was against him. I really like the music he's putting out. I'm a fan of his stuff; I've always been a fan. I would never wish anything horrible for him. Never. I never have."