With an incredible casts consisting of the likes of Gary Oldman, Richard Dreyfuss, Harrison Ford, Liam Hemsworth and Abbie Cornish – when we spoke to the director on the phone, we discusses the casting process and his delight at working with such talented individuals. Luketic also reflects back on his own career and how he’s started to move towards his desired genre of late. We also discuss social media, and in light of the film Luketic tells us that he doesn’t quite use the internet as much as he used to…
I’ll start by asking about the cast – you must have been so thrilled when you secured the services of Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford amongst others?
Oh yeah, of course I was – they’re legends. Richard Dreyfuss also. It was incredible because we cast Liam Hemsworth and it was really amazing how he was sort of a beacon for everybody else, people were interested and wanted to work with him. It was an exciting casting process.
There are a couple of scenes that Oldman and Ford share together, the strongest in the film. That must have been such a joy for you to direct?
Yeah it was fantastic to watch those two guys, it was sort of like a ballet, the way they interact and the nuances. They bring so much, it was exciting and thrilling to watch. It was like acting Olympics, it was really cool.
Harrison Ford has a skinhead in the movie, which was quite a surprise. Was that your idea?
No that was actually Harrison’s. I’ll tell you how that came about – Harrison was working on 42, and that required a lot of prosthetics and make-up and having this done everyday had chopped into his hair, so he just buzz-cut it. Then realised he had another movie, so he called me and said “I shaved my hair off”, I said “what are you talking about?”. He said, “I’ve shaved my head off” and I was like, wow. So I asked if he could send me a picture and he sent me a snap from his iPhone, and I took it to the producers and they freaked out for about five minutes and then I mentioned that this was kind of genius, I don’t think we’ve ever seen Harrison Ford with his hair shaved off. I thought it was exciting, I didn’t freak out, but other people did. It all worked out.
Did it change much for you as a director? Did you perceive the character in a different way as a result?
In this case, no. It actually brought a different dimension to the character and made him more formidable. I thought it was great from the get-go. So no, I don’t think so, but I guess it did show me a different layer to the person and it was a good one, there was something tough about him.
I did a fascinating interview recently with T-Bone Burnett, who was speaking passionately about the Government holding on to our data and tracking our online activity and so on. Is this a world you did much research into?
Absolutely, because when we were just a couple of weeks away from shooting the Edward Snowden debacle was everywhere and it was all we were talking about. It made us think about the issues of privacy and who owns the data that we generate and who’s keeping it – and the fact it actually had a value, it’s a commodity, out there the bytes we generate has a value for somebody and it can be sold and bought and used against us, or used to help us. It’s so interesting how the technology to make this data has progressed so rapidly, and it’s something Amber Heard and I were talking about. Yet, the infrastructure to protect it is the least developed, you know. So it’s fascinating.
Given your findings during your research, have you got a different relationship now with social media? Have been more cautious since?
Oh absolutely. I used to over share, I was an over sharer and I admit it [laughs]. When Twitter came out, I think Ashton [Kutcher] introduced me to it, it was brand new and people were on it non-stop on set, and I caught the disease from them and started tweeting everything. ‘This is me, I’m having a shower and eating’. It was an incredible timeline of everything I was doing, I was announcing to the world where I was, where I was going, and that’s weird. I just find it weird. But so easy to fall into.
Is Twitter something of a double-edged sword? Because on one hand it’s a curse like you mentioned, but on the other, on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube – that’s where so much of the marketing for this film takes place, which could be crucial in people seeing it.
Yeah absolutely, and I think we, the makers of the movie, should exercise some control. You can over share and you just need to find a delicate balance. In business it’s a great tool, but for an individual, a person, I don’t know if it’s that healthy to be sharing as much as one does.
Paranoia freaked me out in that respect – is that what you want to hear people saying after seeing it? Is that job done for you?
Yeah absolutely. The whole point is to make people feel uneasy and just say, hey, this happens in the world. We’re living in a world post-financial meltdown, where we have a whole generation now who are a little lost. Who were promised all these things, went to college and worked really hard to get ahead in life, and that’s just not the case.
Do you feel a responsibility as a filmmaker to shed light into these issues and appeal to a broad audience about what’s going on in the world?
Yeah, actually as I get older I feel that more. When I made Legally Blonde in my 20s it was a different time, I loved the money. As I’ve become an older man I’m feeling some responsibility, not the way some filmmakers feel they have to save the world, I’m not quite one of those yet [laughs], but I am on my way there I think.
Your career did begin with more romantically inclined films…
Yeah I’ve made more popcorn movies than most people, but I’m not ashamed of it. I took a different path, I went for successful, commercial films before the critical stuff, and that’s good. I don’t know if I’ve made a good film yet, I still have my training wheels on.
Since Legally Blonde, you’ve moved into thrillers like 21 and Paranoia, was that always the intention? Was it a case of getting your name out there before falling into your desired genre?
Exactly, you’ve got it. My vision of what my career would be was very different to what it actually became. That’s partly to do with the machine of show-business, you know, I was making thrillers in film school, but then in my final year I made a comedy just to try it and that comedy is what got me Legally Blonde and all the jobs, so that’s how that happened. Like an accidental child, we weren’t planning on having, but you’ve just got to go through with it.
It may not have been your desired path initially, but do you look back at Legally Blonde at it fondly, as the project which kickstarted your career?
I’m reminded of it everyday. I fly to Australia and it’s on in theatres, it’s on at Broadway, I just can’t escape it. The other night I was watching television and a political commentator played a scene from it. It’s just pervasive in popular culture. When I was coming to the United States, they would always ask me what I do at customs and I would say I’m a film director and they ask what I have directed, and as soon as I say ‘Legally Blonde’ it makes everything great, everyone knows about it.
So what is next for you?
Expendabelles is next, have you heard about this? It’s the female part of the Expendables franchise, so it’s the greatest women associated with action in the world, all coming together and making a very spectacular, kick-ass, very violent but fun action comedy.
Have you got anyone on board at the moment, or is it all under wraps?
I’ve been working on this for a few days, so I’m just pulling up my sleeves and doing the rounds, it’s literally everybody who is up for grabs, it’s a fantastic project and has such exciting prospects in who the cast is gonna be. Anyone you can think of that have been kick-ass is up for it, so that’s gonna come together in the next couple of weeks. It’s probably the biggest movie I’ve ever done.
Paranoia is released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 10th.