*“Don’t play God, don’t mess with things that we don’t understand. It’s a warning about science going too far into areas where humankind doesn’t really belong,” said writer/director Michael Hurst (“Room 6,” “The Darkroom”) of his latest release “Paradox,” which hit theaters April 15th and on VOD and iTunes on April 19th.
This fast-paced, sci-fi thriller stars Malik Yoba (“Empire,” “New York Undercover”, “Cool Runnings”) and Zoë Bell (“The Hateful Eight,” “Death Proof”) as scientists working on a secret project that may allow them to travel ahead in time. They test it by sending one of their own ahead one hour. He returns pleading with them to shut it down, explaining that within that hour, they will all die.
“I thought it was a clever idea,” Yoba told EUR/Electronic Urban Report about why he accepted the role. “It’s always good when the ideas comes as offers. I know sci-fi fans are passionate, and I’ve gotten a little love in the sci-fi world doing ‘Alphas’ and ‘Defying Gravity,’ so I keep trying to do things in that space.”
“Paradox” marks the first time the veteran actor and English director have worked together, and Yoba explained that his view of Mr. Landau required that he play him as “An Englishman, in a deliberate attempt to make himself seem more than he was,” he said.
“I’d never seen ‘Empire.’ I was aware of it being a big hit show but I hadn’t seen it,” Hurst told us about how he came to work with Yoba on this project. “We were lucky to get him. One of the things about working with Malik, which is really interesting was on set, when you’re actually making the film with him minute by minute, he feels like he’s giving a very low energy performance, so it worried me for the first couple of days. I was thinking, ‘He seems to be kinda sleepwalking through this. He’s not really giving much energy to the camera,’ “ Hurst explained. “And then we saw the dailies and I realized just how brilliant he is, because he’s actually focusing all his energy and all his passion directly to the camera. So the camera is picking up this fantastic performance. I think he’s great in ‘Paradox.’ On the set you would think he was being kind of undecided. I think what Malik’s got is the ability now to really focus his performance. He’s done so many hours of television and so many hours of film that he’s now able to fool you.” the director added.
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Did you turn to any scientists to boast the plausibility of the story?
Michael: No, but I did buy a few books about time travel on Amazon. And that’s where I read about the more linear time travel theory. The reason why paradoxes can’t exist is because the actual flow of time is completely linear. It’s obviously one of those movies like the Frankenstein myths and stuff, just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should do it. Basically, I took a different view than most movies do. Most movies take a more romantic view of time travel, which is that time is changeable, and that people can go back and alter history. But there’s another theory that time is just linear, like a highway, and you can’t get off it. You can’t change it. You can just visit different points along the timeline but the timeline will always stay exactly the same as it was before. No film to my knowledge has done that version of time travel. Where time was just fixed and there’s nothing you can do. I thought that would make a good sort of horror film twist on the time travel genre.
An interesting theory I read after watching this film said that the universe will protect itself from creating paradoxes by simply not allowing time machines to be made. Which is pretty much the message of this film. What’s your view on time manipulation?
Malik: I wish I could find out. I’m a man of faith so we can’t really manipulate these things as much as we’d like to. Although, the closest I’ve come to it is Déjà vu, and I’ve had some pretty strong Déjà vu throughout my life, where I’ve been convinced I’ve seen things, and it’s more about the future, though. I have a very strong intuition. I’ve been able to read people and read situations and predict them before they’ve happened. I had a dream 2-3 days ago and it was very specific, and I saw the person yesterday. And the thing I dreamt about, she was actually doing a few days earlier. So I don’t know, maybe that’s some form of time travel.
If you could time travel, what period would you visit and what would you change about history?
Malik – I probably wouldn’t have Kennedy or Martin Luther King killed. The answer changes every time someone asks this, but as soon as you asked, that’s what popped into my mind. There are a few people that I would like to see still here.
One reason time travel remains so popular with filmmakers is that you can do it on a budget.
Michael – Yes, the whole point of ‘Paradox’ essentially was to do sort of an Agatha Christie type movie. A murder mystery where people are trapped in a remote location and they can’t get out. And to also play the bulk of the film in real-time. So between those two ideas – they’re trapped in one location and the fact that it takes place in real-time – those two things add up to a low-budget, which, for a filmmaker with my background, is a good idea.
I’m a ‘Doctor Who’ fanatic, and there are moments in the film that made me think of the series. Are you a fan of The Doctor?
Michael: Yes! I particularly like the Russell Davis incarnation of it, and the phrase Timey Wimey, which is something I used to describe ‘Paradox’ to my friend.
Do you believe that because humans are pretty much dissatisfied beings, and always seeking the truth about that which is seemingly unattainable, is the reason why the theme of time travel remains so fascinating to audiences?
Michael: Absolutely. That’s entirely it. The fact that we have to live with cause and effect, and the fact the we have to live our lives in linear fashion, when we are imaginative creatures and we can imagine a different way of being, that’s the frustration and that’s what leads to the fascination with time travel.