*The man behind one of the most arresting and thrilling films to hit the screens in sometime made a pit stop at the Waldorf Towers recently to talk about his dauntless movie “Closet Circuit.” Having interviewed members of his cast earlier, it was now time to pick director John Crowley’s brain.
How hard is it to get funding for a smart film such as this?
Very hard, I’m afraid, very hard. I think that making films is a privilege for anyone and it’s an amazing job. But I fear that a lot of the interesting work dramatically has migrated to television where people trust complex characters, complex thoughts and where you’re allowed to reflex the world as it is and reflex people’s concerns as opposed to just pure entertainment. I have no problem with pure entertainment. l love it. I mean as somebody who consumes popcorn movies, I’m very happy to sit through a good one, not a bad one [laughs]. But it seems to me audiences are intrigued also watching dramas where something is being worked out that is troubling on some level. They don’t necessarily consciously process everyday the stuff that lurks beneath the surface of their minds, the fears of what the government is or isn’t doing. They want to see that played out in a compelling story with great characters beautifully acted, beautifully photographed. It doesn’t feel like the most difficult thing in the world in a way to do but it’s very hard to get that made now because financiers are scared of making films for adults because adults don’t go to the cinema that much anymore. You know all of this. It tends to be that the market they’re most seeking is a younger one. So you get wonderful films like the Borne trilogy, a fusion between thrillers and action movies. I wanted to see what it would be like if we tried to make something which is much lighter on the action and leans a little bit more on drama.
Did you have any trepidation doing a film that deals with terrorism and spying on citizens?
A little bit because it’s not a subject matter that I had ever gone near before and I didn’t want to make grand pronouncements about it. What I wanted to try and do was make a film which felt like it was exploring what individuals feel and experience when they look at larger political events in the world and how their governments are responding to it; which is to say that trying to see the film through the eyes of Martin (Eric Bana) and Claudia (Rebecca Hall) felt to me like a very interesting place to be considering the events that they are involved in. I certainly didn’t want the film to be perceived as an issues film. It would be insincere of me to suggest that the whole nature of closed hearings and secrecy in the English legal system is something that kept me awake at night four years ago. I hope [audiences] come away with a few questions and something to discuss.
In discussing his choice of Bana for Martin, Crowley said he has “always been a fan of Eric and needed somebody who had a certain assumed masculine element to him and also had a degree of wit; and could believably play an advocate of the sort that Martin is, be arrogant and be a bit of an asshole but also be charming enough that you would root for him.”
No one could ever dispute the “masculine” part after Details Magazine did the cover story “Eric Bana Makes Captain Kirk His Bitch.” Just as awesome and unrecognizable as Bana was in “Star Trek,” he was just as kind and powerful in “Troy” and “The Hulk.” I asked Bana if he, too, had reservations about starring in such a controversial film? “No I don’t, absolutely none whatsoever. I mean, it’s vaguely in the back of my head as someone who has to travel a lot but I refuse to allow [it to guide me]. It was far more prominent for me when I was doing ‘Munich,’ so compared to that, in this instance it would never have crossed my mind.”
What did cross Bana’s mind was how grateful he was to have received the offer to be a part of the project. “The first thing I thought when I read the script,” Bana recalled, “how happy I was they sent it to me. I was just really surprised that [George] Clooney wasn’t doing this.” He is just as happy about his next film. “I just wrapped a movie here,” Bana revealed, “a couple weeks ago. We shot the whole movie in the Bronx, which was awesome. It’s called ‘Beware The Night.’ It’s a Scott Derrickson movie, the same director from ‘Sinister’ and ‘Exorcism of Emily Rose,’ and it’s gonna be scary.”
In mentioning his selection for the role of Claudia, Crowley said she had to also be intelligent as well as engaging. Hall has been noted and received kudos for many of her lofty roles. However, it’s “The Awakening” that comes to my mind because its eerie, frightening aspects still haunt me. When asked why she chose to do “Closed Circuit,” it was not surprising when she said because “it was political.” She went on to explain that, “It’s a great story. I loved the flavor that it had of those conspiracy films that were made here in the 70s…
“And then, of course, there’s the notion of government spying and closed-circuit cameras…It’s good fun to play someone who is morally righteous and compromised at the same time.” Hall just finished filming “Transcendence” and is on her way to Broadway. “Even though I’m not allowed to talk about it,” she chuckled, “It deals a lot with the issues about the advance of technology. So it’s something that I’ve been contemplating. You can’t stop it. That’s the truth of it and what we think of as evolving that looks scary and dangerous now will be normal.”
Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez team up for ‘Getaway’
Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez were at the Ritz Carlton in New York and talked about being speed demons in “Getaway.” Not wanting to give away what’s behind “Getaway,’ I did ask the two if there was anyone who drove them to exceed?
ETHAN HAWKE: That’s a good question. There’s so many. I don’t think any one of us succeeds at anything alone. The older I get, the more obvious it is that you’re not really in control of your life. You’re a part of a larger wave, no matter who you are, and there are so many people who are responsible. Take this movie, there are people who share the responsibility of this movie and for all aspects of your life, we can’t separate ourselves. We like this idea of us being this individual who has this autonomy and agency in what we can achieve and to a certain extent, we can exercise our will. But you can work your ass off on something and if the world doesn’t care then you have to take happens. It’s always a mystery to me. There are too many people to list that I’m grateful to.
SELENA GOMEZ: I think it’s different seasons. You have different people come in your life and they affect you in a way and leave an impact on you. I agree for sure. Whether it’s projects or friends or directors, it’s just an opportunity that people give me that I love. And my mom. She definitely pushes me to be better…And drove me around [Laughs].
What was biggest draw to this movie?
EH: I just thought that it’s very difficult to make any kind of action movie that might be unique or worth-watching and there was something so simple about making the entire movie about one car chase. It had simplicity to it that I thought made it unique and fun and one that I would be interested to see. That’s usually my barometer. Also in a lot of action movies, it doesn’t matter who plays the part. It really just doesn’t matter. Just insert a 50-year old male and 27-year old female because it’s so much about the explosions and things like that. But in this movie, I felt like whoever the actors were would have an opportunity to make an impact on the film.
SG: I’ve been wanting to do different things starting with Spring Breakers and then some other fun roles and I wanted to do an action movie so the opportunity to be able to be a tomboy who knows about all this stuff that I don’t know about, and I got to dye my hair black and obviously being able to work with Ethan is an honor.
Are you done with music for a while?
SG: Well I’m actually on tour, so I’m in the middle of music. I constantly find myself, I’m a woman, so I change my mind all the time so some days I want to do acting and just that and some days I want to do music and just that so it kind of changes but this is my last record for a while. I’m gonna tour it and then get into acting for a really long period of time.
Do you have a dream vehicle and whom would you take on your first ride?
SG: I don’t know cars that well. I feel lame. I have a BMW now and that was the first nice car I got and the first people who rode in it were my grandparents.
EH: I think mine would be a F16. I would love to take my son, if I knew how to fly an F16. I love the movie ‘The Right Stuff.’ I want to just throttle straight up the sky.
Marie Moore is a syndicated veteran entertainment journalist who reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]