Interview with the director of Moon & Jake Gyllenhaal thriller Source Code.
What was your reaction when you first read the ‘Source Code’ script?
I met up with Jake a while ago; before the script, and Jake was the one who mentioned it to me and said that, you know, there’s this great script I’ve been reading, I’d love you to have a look at it. I read it and I thought WOW that’s a lot of claustrophobic environment. Having just come of the back of Moon, which was very much a claustrophobic environment, I could see why they wanted me, but it occurred to me that because of the beauty of the script (without revealing too much) there is a constant. There is sort of new exploration, there are new things going on each time. Our main character Coulter actually enters this repetition that occurs in the film, so there’s always something new going on and I think became a bit, that became the challenge really, how do you make each of these repetitions new, and give the audience something new, and keep them engaged?
What was it like collaborating with Jake Gyllenhaal?
I had one set of ideas of what we could do with it and Jake was sort of wanting to try some things as well and I think we had a very good collaborative relationship. I think what we ended doing was we added a lot more humour. There is a lot more tongue in cheek humour in the film than was originally on the page of the script and I think that mix of humour with the slightly more science fiction elements of this thriller – I think we pulled something together which was quite appealing and I think the audience isn’t going to get bogged down in the logic or the science of it all. I think they’ll just be going along for the ride
I’m a huge fan of Jake Gyllenhaal, I think he’s a tremendous actor. To work with him was a real opportunity I didn’t want to pass up. The script was tight, you know, it was a good strong fast moving script and I loved that. I loved the fact that there was no lethargy in it, it just sort of got on with the story.
Tell us about Jake’s character, Coulter Stevens…
He starts off in a place where doesn’t know what’s going on, and by the end of it he’s become sort of master of his own world and I think that growth, that evolution over the course of the film, was fun because things go wrong sometimes. Sometimes things happen spontaneously, he suddenly realizes he has the ability to control this and I think it just made it for a fun experience.
Tell us about the train set you built for the film…
We built this amazing train carriage, which played multiple parts and different parts of the train over the course of the shoot. It was this beautiful thing but it was a bit of a monster really because shooting in that environment became somewhat limiting at times. The personality of the film almost came out of how we had to shoot it as opposed to the other way around. Sometimes when you’re shooting you can impose your style on your location or your set and in this case it was really the set that imposed the style on us.
Tell us about the character of Coulter Stevens…
Captain Coulter Stevens finds himself waking up on a commuter train heading to Chicago, he doesn’t know how he got there and he finds that everyone in the environment seems to know who he is, but its not who he thinks it is and then the story begins
Were you inspired by Hitchcock when making this film?
I’m not embarrassed to say that we borrowed liberally from Hitchcock in parts of the film; there are certainly some shots there where you might raise an eyebrow. I think it does have a very sort of Hitchcock feel but at the same time there is whole new wave of films coming out which I think are more challenging science fiction. Although this is definitely more contemporary thriller, I think there are elements that are more science fiction, and I think it kind of treads that ground as well, its part of that wave of slightly more cerebral science fiction
What made you choose Michelle Monaghan for Christina?
Jake and I got on very well and we started talking about who we might want, I suggested Michelle Monaghan having seen her in “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, which was a film by Shane Black who’s a friend of mine and I talked to Shane who said how wonderful she was to work and how much fun he’d had with her.
What was it like working with Vera Farmiga?
One of the beauties of working with Vera Farmiga is there’s so much going on in her face. She’s so able to communicate with the subtlest movements or gestures and I think she has that ability and used it in our film and I’m so grateful because there isn’t a huge amount of flexibility of where she can go, or what she can do, or what props she can draw on.
The film has a lot of humour in the film, as well as the love story elements…
There’s more humour in the film then I think was originally planned and I’m very pleased about that. I think the love story is more obvious and stronger and touching than I think we realized when we were shooting it and I’m really proud about that.
What do you want the audience to take away from the film?
At the end of the film, if half the audience comes out satisfied with the love story and the experience of the action, and the other half baffling over the ending but enjoying trying to work out the ending then I’ll be satisfied. I think there’s enough there to keep you engaged on an action level and romance level and there’s definitely something to think about at the end of the film if you are of that kind of disposition and you enjoy those kind of puzzles but not enough to frustrate you. I think the balancing act to make was something to keep you interested and make you think but at the same time not leave you frustrated.