On Thursday, September 19, Examiner.com was invited to a very special luncheon hosted by Director Denis Villeneuve (Academy Award nominated for “Incendies” for Best Foreign Film) celebrating his latest film "Prisoners" out today. The film's stars Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo and Paul Dano were all in attendance to celebrate the Warner Bros. Pictures release.
First we attended a screening of the film at the Warner Bros. Screening Room and then we headed to the cocktail party and reception. Michael Shannon of "Boardwalk Empire" and "Man of Steel" fame was spotted at the screening and walked over to the lunch with us. Held at the posh Monkey Bar in NYC, editors, friends, actors, producers and Academy members gathered to celebrate with cast of "Prisoners." As we dined on smoked salmon, tea and a variety of wine, it was a treat to speak with the cast and director. Directed by 10 time Academy nominee Denis Villeneuve, the beautifully dark film asks a question none us will ever be able to answer: How far would you go to protect your family? When six-year-old girls go missing, as minutes turn to hours, panic sets in for the Dover family and the Birch family played by Bello, Davis, Jackman and Howard. Their only suspect is Paul Dano who drives a dilapidated RV. In charge of saving the girls is Detective Loki (Gyllenhaal) who is known for solving all of his cases. Frustrated with the progress of the investigation Keller Dover (Jackman) decides to take things into his own hands leaving us to question again, what would you do?
We were fortunate enough to have Hugh Jackman at our table. Check out highlights from our conversation:
We saw the film this morning! You were fantastic.
Jackman: What a terrific cheery film to see at 10 AM. How do you go to that and then walk out in daylight.
It's hard to be cheery after that. We loved your little whistle at the end.
Jackman: We actually shot an alternate ending that we were arguing about. That was the scripted scene and I always loved it and they were always like...we want to test another version because we have a feeling audiences will want to see...me alive and to see me hear that my daughter is okay since at that point he doesn’t know. And so we shot it and Jake jumps down and tells me that’s cut from the film. What turned out, thankfully, they discovered was instead of relief at seeing him know, it became…"oh, he goes to jail, the girl survived so now what happens to him in jail." So I think it’s perfect the way it is.
It’s great. You kind of expect the alternate ending.
Jackman: Right. This is the outcome. And we do make family movies mainly and so…their instincts would have gone to the alternate ending I think and it was their decision. It’s a very unusual script. This ending could have been way more generically flawed and Roger allowing it to have time and space, all that stuff.
The movie has this structure of a maze and we see you’re not getting this or your character just needs to burst through the glass and through the walls of the maze.
Jackman: It’s an interesting point. Cause there’s one guy I read [about] and I put the line in the movie in that scene with Jake in the car, it wasn’t in the script, but I thought it was so powerful when I read it to understand. He said the most manly thing (cause his kid was five, he was gone for two years, he actually got the kid back) was that you know your kid is waiting for you to come through that door and rescue him.
Out of those four parents, who do you think you identified with the most?
Jackman: I could totally understand my character. I think I’m more moderate, I think at some point I would be convinced to be a little more reasonable. The truth of the matter is I don’t think any of us know what would be right because the persona we have here is somehow affected from our upbringing to our beliefs to who we are and what happens in situations…I really like the title "Prisoners" because we’re really prisoners to our inner-most fears and this is all a mask of our fears really and having to go on in the world and in a situation like this it all goes. I love that the writer had four divisions of grief really because people act in different ways, but really you don’t know.
I want to ask about Roger Deakins. Is there anything that you’ve seen in this movie that kind of blows your mind? Cause this movie is beautiful.
Jackman: I just love little things like…first of all, when I see that the whole neighborhood in the snow…it’s a beautiful shot and it’s all fake.
And you’re walking through the crunching snow, where’d you do that?
Jackman: It’s Atlanta. And I love the way his camera shoots very ominous, the way it was with no sliver of sunshine in the entire movie even though we’re shooting in Atlanta. Day 2, the sun came out on day 2 and he says, "Oh, let’s go inside." I go, "huh?," he goes, "Yeah, it’s no good the sun," and I go, "We’ve got 68 to go. Are you going to go inside every time the sun comes out?"
As you were reading the script, who did you think was the killer or the kidnapper was?
Jackman: I thought it was Alex Jones. I sat there and thought it was like Ed Norton in "Primal Fear," that’s where I thought it was going because, if you don’t remember, and I think they did the right thing…when I read the script, I read the line, they didn’t cry until I rescued them from Alex Jones...and I’m the only one who reads it. But I’m like, the audience and me are all going to be a team and then he’s so, "I don’t know anything," and I’m like, hang on a second. I never saw his encounter with them. Even at the end of the script when she has the ice pack, she goes, I’m feeling a little funny today I burned myself, and of course she’s covering the burn. I didn’t see any of that.