Yesterday, on August 19, Examiner.com was on the scene at the New York premiere of Focus Features "Closed Circuit" at the Tribeca Grand Hotel. Notables in attendance included Andrew Karpen, Director John Crowley, James Schamus and the film's stars Julia Stiles, Eric Bana, and Rebecca Hall.
Check out our exclusive interview with Director John Crowley.
What did you love about the script?
John Crowley: It felt like a very fresh idea in the sense that it's a grown-up, smart thriller, set in the legal world in London. And there haven't been any for a very long time and I've been looking to find a piece of material, which was in that ball park, so when it was mentioned to me I sort of grabbed it with both hands.
What was the casting process like and what made Eric Bana perfect for the lead?
John Crowley: The casting process was great fun to be honest because they were very well-drawn parts, and Eric seemed to me to have a number of ingredients that were so right for that character - in terms of being able to express the peacockish side of the character's arrogance and confidence, but he's also a wonderful film actor, by which I mean he's very expressive emotionally with just a glance or a look and I wanted you to be able to see the difference between what was going on on the surface and what was going on behind his eyes when he was having quiet moments and especially as the paranoia develops. And thirdly which is, sort of a marginal thing, but is important for the character, is because he was conceived as somebody who does a lot of as we call it, sculling or rowing on the river. He needed to have that physicality and because that's incredibly difficult. And even I tested him and he's quite an athlete and I tested him to the limits of his abilities. So he seemed to have a great combination of elements. And the last thing, I think he's quite a surprising choice and I always like to find the surprising choice in terms of casting.
Can you speak about the chemistry between Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall?
John Crowley: I wish I could take credit for it. They're both terrific actors and delightful people. They're very funny and they just seemed to hit off from when they met. They just seemed to like each other and that usually helps the work a lot. And I never had to create genuine tension between them in order to play tension because they're just consummate actors. We rehearsed a lot and they loved rehearsing and it was a very happy set, a very focused set and they're great.
What was the most challenging scene to shoot?
John Crowley: The opening with all of those screens. Technically the most complicated. And we only had two days to do it and it wound up with twelve screens, but it was comprised of so many angles. Trying to make sure that the dialogue was clear and the huge crowds swirling around. Trying to get the balance and the focus right and all of that.
What was your favorite scene in the whole film?
John Crowley: I think it's the last scene with Eric and Rebecca in the boat house. It's their last conversation when they're sitting looking out at the water after their whole denouement of the film. But it's my favorite. It was one of those scenes when we were really pushed for time in the day and we shot on two cameras - one on each side and it's the only time I've ever done that. So we went away with a complete set of reactions. Every nuance simultaneously. Every reaction to each other's lines was there. It was the most interesting sort of gift and an interesting lesson in filmmaking.
Tell me about your love of filmmaking and how you knew you wanted to be a director.
John Crowley: I started in the theater because when I was growing up Ireland, there weren't any film schools at the time and I, like a lot of my generation, sort of stumbled into the University for want of something better to to - doing an arts degree and then started directing plays and acting in plays and that was my life for the next ten years. While I had a great passion for film, to be honest, filmmaking seemed to me about as likely as joining NASA. It felt like it was miles away. And then I just kept teaching myself about it and got approached to direct films because some of the plays I had been directed were going quite successfully and then I developed a script with the writer who I adore, Mark O' Rowe who wrote his first screenplay and gave it to me and said, "Do you want to work on this?" And that's how I made my first film. And the second I was on set, even though I was the only person on set who didn't actually technically know how to do his job and I was the least experienced. It was the most correct feeling I've ever had in my life and I loved it ever since. It's a huge privilege to make films. And as far as I can see, it's the best job on earth.
Check out our exclusive interview with the film's screenplay writer Steven Knight.
What inspired the script?
Steven Knight: The original notion was the change in the way important cases were defended. Whereby a defense in terrorism case could be given to defense counselors, but they weren't allowed to speak to each other or socialize. So I just thought that would be an interesting situation if the two of them were having an affair. You would have two defense lawyers, where one would know the secret and the other wouldn't. And they're not allowed to socialize or meet or be in the same room...But then increasingly as events unfolded, it became more and more about government surveillance, how much the government knows because this is obviously a secret between these two people, but how much does the government know?
What was it like collaborating with the director?
Steven Knight: John is brilliant. I really liked working with John and his films are brilliant. He's very creative and he's done a brilliant job of it.
What made Eric Bana the perfect lead for your project?
Steven Knight: Well because he's so British even though he's not. He's so civil and solid and reserved and contained.
What's a secret to writing a great thriller?
Steven Knight: I think it's in my opinion, having a story that's relevant to the real world. Rather than taking it out as the world is being destroyed by an evil genius, make it reality.
How was the writing process for you? How long did it take?
Steven Knight: It was about four years ago and there were about six drafts and hopefully they got better and better.
Where did your passion for screenplay writing come from?
Steven Knight: Well I used to write books and a whole lot of TV. Then I wrote a screenplay and it just felt natural.
"Closed Circuit" hits theaters August 28.