Dead again (1991) Commentary
We wanted to set up[br]the atmosphere immediately,
which is why you get this low...[br]grind over the first few cards.
And then in a minute you get...
Murder, which is the subject matter[br]of the film.
This title sequence attempted to put[br]together, in newspaper headlines,
many elements and clues[br]inside the film.
We wanted to do this to lay out[br]the territory of the movie,
let the audience know it involved[br]clues, you'd have to think a bit.
And gave us a chance to do a sort of[br]overture with Patrick Doyle's music
that could set up the full-blooded[br]melodramatic atmosphere of the film.
The original script, very noir-ish[br]and a bit gothic as well,
borrowing from the period[br]that the sequences in the past used,
and trying to set the audience up for[br]something that would be out there.
It would definitely be full-blooded.
And immediately trying to get them[br]intrigued by names like Gray Baker,
who's a character we'll see[br]a lot of, and newspapers -
he's a newspaper reporter -[br]play a great part in the movie.
And making sure everybody's name[br]was on the credit sequence, as well.
It took us months, a fella[br]called Phil Norman did it.
We went through many variations[br]in order to see
the amount of information[br]people could possibly absorb,
given that this is the moment when[br]people are getting into their seats.
Just introducing all the names,[br]because there are a lot,
we go into the past and the future
and it's, I suppose in the context[br]of a thriller, complex.
Peter Berger, a co-editor on Fatal[br]Attraction, did a terrific job.
Tim Harvey, production designer[br]on all the films I've directed,
came from England to design this.
Matt Leonetti did a great job as DP.
And there is Roman Strauss.
And then we dissolve, musically,[br]into the very beginning of the piece.
We start to hear[br]the song Lush Life.
Quite a difficult song to sing,[br]as you can hear from me singing it,
but a, sort of,[br]almost atonal kind of feel to it.
And the first time I read the script[br]I remember I was in the midst of -
that's my birthday,[br]by the way, December 10th -
I was in a play in Los Angeles,
and in the dressing room[br]I was sent this script,
one of a number I was getting sent[br]in the wake of having done Henry V.
And we were there[br]after Henry V had opened,
I said to my then-wife,[br]Emma Thompson,
I'll read this aloud[br]and see if we like it.
I started to read[br]this opening sequence
and I was so gripped[br]by the hypnotic quality of it,
this fella in shadow,[br]singing this strange song,
and now the arrival of Gray Baker[br]into this cell covered in clippings,
some of which we've given you[br]moments of during the title sequence.
Scott Frank, the writer,[br]who did a great job,
seemed to really enjoy[br]the enigmatic nature of this scene,
which we'd set up as something[br]the audience should be intrigued by,
and that eventually would[br]provide clues to the resolution.
That emergence[br]from the shadow into the light
was absolutely something[br]that Scott wrote in.
The atmosphere and noir-ish texture[br]of this scene is very much him.
I wish I could say I'd done[br]an amazing job creating it myself,
but I felt it so leapt off the page[br]that we should do what he wrote,
and that's essentially what we did.
And as you can see,[br]it's in black and white.
Scott's original version[br]of the screenplay,
not the one I saw,[br]which was after several rewrites,
the script had been[br]to a number of directors.
By the time it got to me the[br]story was supposed to be in colour.
We found many, many months[br]into the preview process
that the story[br]was complex to the point where,
without the black-and-white[br]sequences explaining clearly,
visually, that we[br]were in the past, in another world,
it was difficult to take in all[br]the strands of story going at once.
You've seen the scissors under[br]the hair on the newspaper again,
lots of clues, in fact there are[br]various red herrings and in-jokes.
For what it's worth,[br]the number on my shirt, 25-10-1 4-15,
is the date[br]of the Battle of Agincourt.
We felt this film was one[br]in which you could allow yourself
little moments like that,[br]that weren't too self-indulgent.
The mysterious whisper that took me[br]three readings of the script
to understand the point of.
Then we went into[br]an enjoyable sequence to film,
which was Roman Strauss's[br]march towards Death Row.
And again,[br]Scott Frank, very clever
to produce this kind of scene[br]with such economy.
Genuine intrigue,[br]not just bogus intrigue.
A pair of scissors in his hand,
and we go through[br]this faintly hallucinatory section.
We shot it in a real jail, just[br]currently unused in Los Angeles,
and lots of wide-angle lenses,[br]and tried to get closer and closer
to the eyes of the man[br]who may or may not be a killer,
approaching a woman[br]whom he may or may not kill.
This shot here[br]is with me tied to a dolly
and with the camera[br]very close to my eyes.
We go straight to one of those[br]classic moments in a film,
that's become a sort of[br]convention of the genre -
waking up shocked in the night,[br]and the classic Gothic gates -
touch of Citizen Kane there -[br]that again was in the script.
Scott enjoying the vocabulary[br]of this kind of film.
Again, Hitchcock, and a bit of black[br]magic coming in with the cross,
you know, the slow turn[br]of the door handle,
and music supporting it all[br]to say very early to the audience,
"We're gonna give you what we think[br]is the fun of this visceral ride.
"When it's frightening,[br]the music'll be frightening,
"and we'll change tone very quickly."
And suddenly the first beat of the[br]movie is over, that moment of panic.
We've set up intrigue, someone being[br]killed and this woman being haunted.
She's in the present, in colour,[br]and we start working out,
"Right, what's this all about?[br]Who is this woman? "
And we know very soon that having[br]produced the female protagonist,
that we must be near[br]producing the male protagonist,
and it's that kind of film -[br]he must be a detective.
First thing he's got to work out is[br]what it means - "Rysher" or "Dysher".
She's clearly haunted,[br]something we don't understand,
but what we saw in black and white[br]at the beginning is haunting her.
And this is a nice touch,
where, given where we are,[br]with people in clerical gear,
our hero about to emerge[br]has an appropriately resonant name.
Mike Church. Another touch of Scott[br]having fun with this kind of genre.
Because we were having fun, annoying[br]or not, people read things into it,
including this,[br]where I'm seen for the first time,
and my car is parked[br]the wrong way on the wrong side.
Everybody thought it referred to the[br]fact I'm from across the Atlantic.
It was simply to get[br]the front bit of the shot,
the background of skyscrapers,[br]so that's where we placed the car.
The crew were saying,[br]"You'd never park there."
I thought, "I want to see the front[br]of the shot. We'll live with it."
This was the introduction[br]to me trying an American accent,
which I think[br]was more acceptable to people then,
because they didn't quite know[br]who we were,
which was good cos they were[br]just watching a thriller then.
And I had fun, as you can imagine,[br]playing a gumshoe detective, and...
This is a scene[br]I particularly liked,
meeting Robin Williams'[br]character for the first time,
living, as he appears to,[br]in this freezer.
Cozy Carlisle,[br]who is immediately aggressive.
Robin Williams,[br]obviously a huge star,
and someone I was very lucky[br]to have in the movie.
I went to meet him in San Francisco,
and in common[br]with all the actors in the film,
he was someone who I admired[br]because of his talent,
but he seemed to make unusual choices
and to be in a film like this[br]with a second-time director,
he's in three[br]terrifically effective scenes,
including this one[br]where we start to build
what will be[br]a wonderfully paid-off sick joke
that finishes off[br]in a scene with Andy Garcia,
with Mike Church[br]trying to give up smoking.
Ironic because at that stage[br]I did not smoke,
and found it impossible[br]to smoke at all as an individual,
and scenes that were in the film[br]where I actually smoked,
had to be cut[br]because I simply couldn't do it.
The sad, horrible truth is that[br]some time later I now do smoke.
I'm hoping I'll watch the scene with[br]Andy Garcia and give up instantly.
Cozy Carlisle is this[br]semi-clairvoyant eccentric
that Robin had so much fun playing,
and he introduced a terrifically[br]convincing dark side.
There's something disturbing about[br]seeing someone who's funny and warm
introduce this very dark,[br]rather sinister quality.
Again, in a film like this,
the vocabulary makes sure that[br]almost every character you meet
Iooks as though they might[br]be involved in the murder.
You want to introduce everyone[br]as a sort of potential suspect,
and produce some of what Agatha[br]Christie called "red herrings",
dupes that start to entertain[br]and confuse and stimulate you,
and hopefully make the audience[br]feel, "I know who did it! "
Or, "Was it him? "[br]Or, "What did he say? "
And in early screenings there was a[br]lot of conversation in the audience.
They had tuned in to the idea that[br]you had to listen very carefully,
that there was[br]probably no line that was casual,
there was probably something leading[br]to an important clue for later on.
A lot of this scene was improvised,
we shot two or three[br]cameras at all times.
Robin, very free with improvisation,[br]and I tried feebly to keep up.
The outside of the house there[br]that we return to so often
is in Pasadena, and aside[br]from its own particular character,
we built the gates that you see[br]and we put extra Gothic towers on it
to help us produce a greater sense[br]of a vivid and atmospheric house,
à la horror films,[br]à la Mandalay in Rebecca,
and Tim Harvey was very keen to[br]maximise the gothic intensity of it.
Once again, the sort of detail[br]that Scott Frank had brought to bear
in several years of[br]development with Lindsay Doran,
who was hugely influential[br]in tying up the various holes
that are inevitable[br]in a script like this,
introduces another important clue,[br]which is gloves and a Claddagh ring.
And also, as you can tell,
at all times a little bit[br]of humour from all the characters.
Important, in such a film,[br]or we thought anyway,
to make sure that the meeting[br]between the two central characters
would be important,[br]so we do the little moves in there.
A more difficult moment[br]where I had to use the accent,
I don't know why it was, but it was.
I worked with[br]a terrific... dialect expert,
Carla Meyer, who helped me[br]with tapes and sessions one-to-one,
where we worked on trying to find[br]some sort of neutral American accent
and when I was[br]preparing the film I would go out
and try and be an American[br]and go to the movies
and go into shops[br]and try and be an American,
which was odd, because many people[br]are not from Los Angeles,
they're from all over the world and[br]not sharp about your accent anyway,
so it was something that I enjoyed[br]once I got over the embarrassment
of doing it[br]in front of an American crew.
Wayne Knight, who's gone on[br]to become hugely successful
in Seinfeld[br]and Third Rock From The Sun
and Basic Instinct[br]and Jurassic Park,
had worked with Emma many years[br]ago on a comedy show in Britain.
And when Lindsay Doran approached me[br]about making the film I said,
along with Tim Harvey, and Phyllis[br]Dalton, the costume designer
and myself and Emma,[br]who I said must play the parts,
for what that was worth,
another actor we insisted[br]should be involved was Wayne Knight.
He's very funny,[br]he's got a great face,
I knew that he would enjoy[br]this slightly whistling character,
the funny, hard-edged[br]friend of the hero,
and their banter with each other,
and his importance[br]in helping to resolve the plot -
the best friend's there when it[br]matters-added a real dimension.
We knew that in order to keep[br]the interest, the acting must be good
and the characters[br]must be interesting, and again,
because you get[br]a fully fleshed out human being,
you wonder whether he's got something[br]to do with whatever's going on.
We enjoyed this lighting,[br]as you can tell,
we again go for a sort of[br]noir-ish look, lit from underneath,
using the red of the darkroom[br]to give it the visual texture
of a kind of film and kind of world[br]where odd things happen.
We still keep that "ooee-ooee-oo"[br]in the atmosphere of the film.
Emma here had a real challenge.
For the first 20 minutes of the film[br]she doesn't move... speak, rather,
and one of her strengths[br]as an actress
is to be able to be[br]a real person without speaking,
so we were very lucky-that was why[br]I was insisting on casting her,
who at that stage, like me,[br]was not known by a vast public.
I'm glad I was right about that and[br]the years have borne out the wisdom
of the decision by Lindsay[br]and Scott and Paramount to cast her.
That man is Patrick Doyle,[br]our composer,
playing the shortest[br]policeman in Los Angeles
as we do this one-shot visual gag,[br]again a Scott Frank thing,
that suggests that this is not the[br]nicest place to spend the evening.
And this sequence was shot...[br]We mocked-up this set in the jail
where we shot the opening sequence.
Richard Easton plays the Father.
I had worked with him[br]in the theatre in England,
and he was living in America,[br]a long-time colleague,
been in lots of Shakespeare with me
and was now working in San Diego,[br]and he came up to do this.
The exterior of Mike's apartment,
like most exteriors in the film,[br]is shot from below,
and lit in a way that tries to give[br]each of the houses a character,
and potentially[br]a sort of foreboding character.
The interior of Mike's apartment[br]was on a sound stage
and most interiors are sound stages.
The exteriors are real locations[br]that we found in Los Angeles.
Once again, with the music[br]and Scott's screen directions,
we start to enjoy what's going to be[br]an important weapon in the picture -
we've seen it at the beginning[br]in dramatic fashion-the scissors.
Introducing them in this way,
you begin to wonder if Mike Church[br]may be at the heart of all this.
Tim Harvey designed this apartment[br]with an Arts and Crafts feel to it.
If you ever visit my house, several[br]of the pieces of furniture are there.
I did pay for them. I didn't sneak[br]them into the back of my car.
We built the interiors so we'd have[br]as much flexibility as we could
to be able to move walls[br]and move the camera around.
I was then, I suppose I still am,[br]in uninterrupted takes,
and you'll notice that sequence,
up until the point where we[br]arrive here, was shot in one take,
and there are many instances[br]where we do uninterrupted takes.
Mike's self-mocking character was[br]something I enjoyed playing a lot,
as we enjoyed[br]suddenly resting on the scissors.
Here we are back to a scream.[br]It's a film where you need a scream,
and we need to remind ourselves
that there's something in the past[br]that haunts this woman.
And by this stage, of course,[br]we're pretty aware
that Mike Church looks[br]remarkably similar to Roman Strauss,
who, once again,[br]has picked up those scissors,
and we are leading[br]the audience to believe
that if a murder was committed[br]in the past by that man
then maybe this man who looks[br]like him now may be involved with it.
Slightly more innocuous view[br]of the same building.
You're about to meet Derek Jacobi[br]who plays Franklyn Madson.
Originally, other actors[br]were going to play this part,
but various complications[br]meant they couldn't,
so Derek Jacobi[br]was brought out from England.
He'd been in a play[br]up until the Saturday.
He flew out on Tuesday[br]and was shooting by Friday.
Like Emma and myself, having[br]a mainly theatrical background,
he was an unlikely choice,[br]and given this was...
albeit a modestly, for the time,[br]budgeted studio movie,
he was someone, like the pair of us,[br]that the studio was nervous about.
Not regarding talent, obviously,[br]but on the issue of commerciality.
So it was Sydney Pollack, executive[br]producer and a great film-maker,
who ran Mirage with Lindsay Doran,
who was very helpful[br]in supporting me as a film-maker
and persuading people that Derek[br]would be a great piece of casting.
And that,[br]like the other actors in the piece,
he would be sufficiently ambiguous[br]to whet the audience's appetite
for believing that he may have[br]something to do with this intrigue.
And, once again, an actor[br]who makes unusual choices.
So as you go through[br]you meet all these actors
whose careers have shown really[br]interesting paths.
They are always gonna do[br]something unusual.
So I loved the character[br]of the cast in general,
and Derek,[br]who's a dear friend of mine,
is able to play things[br]with great depth,
and so,[br]although we introduce him here
as a rather light-hearted[br]and rather funny man,
we know that he's very likely[br]to be much more than that.
Here we introduce one of the things[br]that perhaps put off many directors
whose fingerprints were here before[br]mine-but I take no offence at that.
It's the idea of hypnosis, regression[br]and eventually of reincarnation,
so we see Madson[br]beginning slowly to hypnotise her,
and we wonder what's gonna happen,[br]but we know the kind of film we're in
so here's what happens.
At last she speaks, but, of course,[br]speaks in a way that frightens us
and we know that[br]she surely is in distress
and now that she can, perhaps,[br]speak, we'll find out a little more.
Scott Frank did a wonderful job[br]of balancing those "scare" moments
with humour, he was always[br]undercutting things with humour,
and I think it sent a signal[br]to the audience that the film,
although enjoying itself[br]was not taking itself too seriously.
It was a real delight in working[br]in this kind of... medium, this genre.
And although the darker side is[br]influenced by films like
Otto Preminger's Laura,[br]and Hitchcock's Rebecca -
a lot of Hitchcock,[br]and indeed Wells,
everybody who worked successfully[br]and inspiringly in noir,
and who combined such stories with[br]the leavening quality of humour -
all of these were inspiration for us,[br]and here we end with a nice gag.
Improvised by Derek, and part[br]of the characteristic sparring
between the characters[br]of Madson and Church.
But as we find them together here[br]for a little while,
it's necessary to make us understand
that they're[br]becoming attracted to each other,
so the sort of spiky, joshing,[br]kind of verbal... nonsense
that Church has been coming up with[br]is leading to something more tender.
And there's a temptation to think[br]we might be annoying the audience,
but we're hoping that[br]they will enjoy the fact
that it's now gonna[br]complicate matters even more,
especially if Mike Church had[br]anything to do with the murder.
Another little noir-ish touch,[br]let's introduce The Laughing Duke.
These films always have mad toys,[br]clockwork things
that are faintly sinister,[br]depending on how you shoot them.
And from a jolly exterior where that[br]particular clockwork duke is amusing,
we go into a slightly more creepy[br]interior and discover Madson at work.
We had great fun[br]assembling all these props
from the Paramount prop store,[br]and we hired things,
and another chance to have shafts[br]of light bring out that noir texture.
This is Miriam Margolyes, a brilliant[br]English actress and comedienne,
who shows us how Madson does business[br]by regressing people into past lives
and finding out[br]where they kept their furniture.
It's a terrific device.[br]Aside from being fun,
Scott Frank[br]uses it to divert the audience.
Humour is a great way[br]of putting them off the trail.
Miriam I had not worked with before,[br]but knew from the theatre in England.
She now works a lot in America[br]and she's hugely funny.
Wonderful mimic,[br]fantastic with voices,
and it was great to have someone[br]like her here just for a day.
This interior was built[br]on a sound stage at Paramount,
although, as before, the exterior[br]was in a real part of Los Angeles.
It was probably about 40/60[br]interiors to real exteriors.
And again,[br]it gave us some power of manoeuvre
because, as you'll see in a moment,
we tried, when Madson[br]was in the process of hypnotising,
to produce with the camera[br]some hypnotic sense.
We didn't want to put the audience[br]to sleep, or indeed regress them,
but we did want to give a sense[br]of the hypnotic quality that,
in relation to Derek Jacobi's[br]mellifluous voice,
was happening[br]to Emma Thompson's character.
Another clue there, again,[br]a little almost throwaway remark,
where Madson refers to his mother.
There's someone behind that curtain.
And then we take full advantage[br]of candles here to up the ante,
in terms of the lighting -[br]keep it noir-ish.
And you begin to see[br]the beginning of a move which,
as you see, we dissolve from within,[br]but the entire shot was done in one.
The scene was longer than this,[br]and one of those shots where we took
probably three-quarters of the day[br]to plan the move.
Because you see 360 degrees[br]there aren't many cheats to do,
we wanted the effect[br]of a small space,
and yet we had to have enough room[br]for the camera, which was on a dolly,
smaller than a conventional dolly,[br]allowing to negotiate small spaces,
and, of course, smoother than[br]a Steadicam for this kind of a shot.
I didn't want the often very[br]pleasing float of a Steadicam,
I did want a smooth motion
that was in time and rhythm with[br]Derek's voice and the information.
And yet the physical process[br]of doing it for a cameraman,
an operator and a focus puller
to be moving-noiselessly-because[br]we didn't post-sync this dialogue,
was a challenge, and for the camera[br]to be at the right point
and looking at the right person[br]when they were speaking,
if that's what we chose to do.
Sometimes it needed to pan[br]so that you had a line from Church,
and the focus problems[br]of being sharp on Derek Jacobi
and then sharp on Emma Thompson,[br]and that being seamless,
all of these were challenges.
We started at 8am, but by the time[br]we'd practised with the actors,
lit it, so that you couldn't see[br]the lights beyond the candle-light,
by the time they had all practised,[br]it was 4pm
before we started these long, single[br]takes-each take maybe five minutes.
You see a shorter version[br]because inside it we dissolve.
But we started then,[br]and of course things go wrong,
somebody bumps into something,
we lose focus,[br]an actor forgets a line,
and then there's a sort of[br]finite number that you can do.
In my experience with[br]something like this,
a long, challenging take, it's...
You might do 15 takes,[br]and maybe around seven or eight,
I mean number seven or eight,[br]are good,
where the combination[br]of the camera move, the acting...
It's not just a question[br]of hitting the marks,
you want subtlety and variation.
You want the actors to be[br]spontaneous. It can't be mechanical.
There's probably, in 15 takes,
one or two that carry the perfection[br]that you hope for, if you're lucky.
We had some licence because[br]partly to cut the time down
and partly because it was[br]more hypnotic than even I wanted,
we reduced the scene and[br]could travel from take to take
through the dissolves[br]that we produced later.
And what this allows us to do[br]is finish on Emma Thompson,
and take us back,[br]through the medium of the candle,
to our first[br]proper section in the past,
where we begin to hear[br]about Roman and Margaret Strauss.
Here we establish Roman Strauss[br]as a conductor,
something I had to learn...[br]which was a challenge.
Bill Kraft, a terrific musician[br]and conductor from Los Angeles
showed me how to do that.
And here we have[br]the outside of Syd's,
a nightclub that[br]it was great fun to recreate.
We did produce a Steadicam shot
which took us[br]from the inside of that car,
all the way through[br]to the table we eventually sit in,
and that was lost in various previews[br]and post-production processes,
so this entire sequence[br]was much longer.
In the end, it became easier[br]to understand in this montage way,
where we brought out key lines and[br]tried to offer, through the montage,
the sort of glamour of the period,
the black-and-white period[br]of nightclubs, tuxedos
and beautiful shiny dresses and[br]Hollywood after hours in the '30s.
But it was significantly[br]longer than this
and it was one of the things[br]it was something of a shame to lose,
but worked better in terms[br]of the audience's understanding.
The first cut of the film[br]ran at two and half hours,
and so in this final version,[br]I think it's about 106 minutes.
We found that so much information[br]to set up the story was required
that it was easier if, on the whole,[br]Emma's character narrated this,
and we seized on key moments,[br]including this sequence,
which was shot on the very beach[br]in Los Angeles
where, I believe,[br]some years later, Baywatch was shot.
And it may have been[br]the very bodies they saw here
that gave them the idea for that[br]show. I may be wrong, I'm not sure.
We go back to the Strauss mansion[br]and...
all of these scenes[br]were shot on colour film.
We had no intention, immediately,
to make them[br]eventually be in black and white,
but as I mentioned earlier,
it became very important[br]to make a real clear distinction
between the past[br]and present sequences.
One of the things that convinced us[br]whilst on location
was seeing in various ramshackle,[br]made-up screening rooms,
dailies that had been[br]dupe videos of dailies
that I would often see[br]in black and white,
and I remember saying[br]to Scott and to Lindsay,
"That's good. It has a really strong[br]sense of period."
So that began to nudge us that way.
An introduction to Andy Garcia,[br]a wonderful actor.
When we cast him in this he was[br]just about to open in Godfather IIl,
in which he was sensational.
A real actor's actor, Andy,[br]someone with his own mind who is not,
despite having movie star looks[br]and a successful career,
is not over-awed by the movie world,[br]and who, as with the other actors,
is attracted to things[br]that motivate him, in whatever way,
with an interesting director[br]or an interesting story,
and an interesting character.
He hadn't played anything like this,[br]which is Gray Baker,
this hard-drinking,[br]possibly womanising, reporter,
who we get the sense[br]is a terrific writer...
A sort of Hildy Johnson figure[br]from the front page
and someone who we know, in his[br]atmosphere and his character,
is gonna probably[br]be taking a shine to Margaret,
Emma, looking terrific there.
Christine Ebersole, Gray Baker's[br]partner in crime there.
And we're introduced[br]for the first time to young Frankie,
and his mother, played by[br]the German actress Hanna Schygulla,
who'd been such a hit[br]in the Fassbinder movies,
and has this terrific[br]screen presence.
Again makes you wonder whether[br]there's something going on.
She manages to speak and at the same[br]time suggest the absolute opposite
of what may be[br]an entirely innocuous remark,
but there's something in her eyes[br]and her whole being
that indicates more is going on.
We had great fun[br]with the hats and costumes.
Phyllis Dalton,[br]Oscar-winning costume designer
who did the costumes for Henry V[br]came to work on Dead Again,
and she'd worked through[br]the glory days of British films,
costume designer[br]on Lawrence of Arabia,
terrific personal sense of style,
and she enjoyed it[br]because she knew the period herself
and tried to fix the detail of that.
All of these actors[br]are interested in the clothes.
Nothing about[br]the way they prepare is casual,
so the costume fittings[br]for this were extensive.
It seems a superficial thing,[br]but with this,
where the story[br]is being told with some economy
you want everything, the way[br]you shoot it, the way they look,
from their hair[br]to the quality of their shirt,
everything conspires to help[br]make the actor feel just right.
And all of these were pernickety[br]without being difficult.
They were just very scrupulous about[br]being exactly who they wanted to be
and making everything tell.
Andy's another actor[br]who enjoys improvisation
and he did so here, in small measure,
and all of it just helped[br]give a natural feel.
Scott Frank and Lindsay Doran[br]were very good about that,
because given the time they'd spent[br]working on the script,
they were, whilst protective of it,[br]always open to suggestion,
and a lot of the actors, I think,[br]embraced that.
We're introduced to the anklet,
mentioned in a newspaper report[br]in the opening title sequence.
And when you're doing these kinds[br]of pictures it's funny,
you have to keep reminding yourself[br]that it's important,
you saw it a moment ago,[br]to make sure there are insert shots
that really[br]establish the object, the item.
You mustn't be casual about that,
because at some stage you'll need[br]to remind the audience what it was,
without laying it on with a trowel,
you need to remind them about[br]what's going to become important.
Shot through this whole film,
both in the relationship[br]between Roman and Margaret
and the modern couple, is romance.
It's a very necessary quality[br]in this kind of film
to feel a heightened quality to the[br]romance that carries on across time.
It's one of the themes[br]of the movie, indeed.
So in shooting it[br]we wanted it to be... very romantic,
and we enjoyed all these challenges,[br]trying to do many things at once
and it was one of the excitements[br]of working in a particular genre -
the thriller-and making it[br]as multi-layered as possible,
without trying to be pretentious[br]or overloading it.
But I think this element, from[br]the evidence at early screenings,
was something that people enjoyed,[br]or at least the girls,
perhaps the boys decided it was[br]something they could put up with.
A lot to think about, so there's[br]a moment in the script to relax.
The mood changes,[br]the tone changes slightly,
it gives us a chance[br]to think about what's happened
and establish a little more[br]banter with Mike and Madson.
And now Grace...
Another terrible in-joke coming,[br]I'm afraid.
I couldn't resist it, it was[br]when I was green in judgement.
The beginning of that shot[br]featured Laurence Olivier as Hamlet
in a June 1948 edition[br]of Life magazine.
We were researching copies of Life,[br]which we'd had permission to use,
so that we could have Madson[br]refer to the actual articles
where the original murder[br]was talked of,
and when we looked back at the time[br]that we needed to reveal.
Laurence Olivier[br]was on the cover as Hamlet,
promoting his film of that time.
We trimmed the front of the shot
so that it didn't look like I was[br]trying to be a complete clever geek,
and just as well,
but it was one of the indulgences[br]I allowed myself in the doing of it.
Later we work on a bridge[br]called the Shakespeare Bridge.
We originally had a sign saying[br]"The Shakespeare Bridge",
and at the preview[br]there was an enormous laugh -
those who enjoyed me presenting that[br]having just made a Shakespeare film.
And I'm sure annoying[br]the rest of the audience.
So we dropped that and tried to curb[br]these indulgences during the movie.
Just for interest,[br]if it is of interest,
Derek Jacobi had worked with Olivier[br]many, many times during the '60s,
when he was a member of Olivier's[br]National Theatre Company in England.
Typical Scott Frank, finishing[br]a scene packed with information
with a nice, casual and funny remark.
And very nicely played[br]by Derek Jacobi.
Now, we're on[br]the streets of Los Angeles,
this is a real exterior location,[br]outside The Laughing Duke,
which was a shop[br]of quite a different kind.
Of course,[br]thanks to the art department,
had the windows redone[br]to resemble a convincing exterior
to the interior set that we[br]had built on the Paramount lot,
where we'd shoot on sound stages[br]that had been used in Citizen Kane.
Those sound stages[br]were part of the old RKO lot,
which was swallowed up by Paramount,[br]and which gave us a certain thrill.
As did the whole film -[br]making a thriller in Hollywood,
a genre I've always loved,
and that the very act of doing[br]was a terrific thrill and a luxury,
a sense of being involved in[br]a little film history was exciting.
I haven't mentioned the red car.[br]I can't tell you what it was.
There was a vast selection[br]put in front of me
and I looked for one that could be[br]driven by a detective in a thriller.
And that's what I chose.
We're back with Cozy Carlisle,[br]another uninterrupted Steadicam shot,
which, again,[br]took us all day to rehearse.
Robin Williams[br]had a lot of dialogue here,
plot plus character stuff[br]and a real laying out
of what Scott decided were our rules[br]for the world of reincarnation,
as he chose to use it[br]in terms of this plot.
Plus, Robin also had[br]the business, as we call it,
of picking up[br]various bits of merchandise.
We're in a real supermarket in LA,[br]which we took over for the day,
and this, again,[br]we rehearsed most of the day.
It isn't a hugely ambitious shot,[br]we make a cut here,
but there was problems with[br]lighting, fluorescent light,
and Steadicams sometimes go wrong,[br]and did.
I remember Robin Williams[br]worked whilst suffering from flu,
being the trouper that he is.
We're starting to get into the real[br]intrigue. The plot's turning.
We know the problem now,[br]and wonder how we're gonna solve it.
And Robin's character lays it out,[br]a trauma in a past life
can help you resolve[br]a trauma in a present life,
something most people believe,
but not those sophisticates[br]that watch thrillers,
and for whom the idea[br]of reincarnation is difficult.
And we were lucky[br]with the actors we had
that we could carry off[br]this conceit, if you like,
which is why I think directors[br]passed on this movie,
they felt reincarnation was something[br]an audience wouldn't accept.
We hoped that with the presentation,[br]the music and the noir-ish look
that it would be acceptable and fun,[br]and that it could be witty.
And we aimed[br]to enjoy ourselves doing that,
and believed that we could offer up[br]romance, edge and tension.
Here's something we did as a one-off.
I said to Robin, "Let's just get a[br]close-up of you looking a bit odd
"so we can keep you as a possible[br]candidate for the one who did it."
We're back in romance time here.[br]It was funny, or funny to me, anyway,
people working on the film used[br]to say that in playing both parts,
when I was playing Church[br]I was significantly more cheery
than when I was playing[br]the rather tortured Roman Strauss.
We also had great fun[br]with making up old newspapers.
Lindsay Doran, a great producer[br]and a real details merchant,
was fantastic about[br]assembling all this material for me.
And Tim Harvey, indeed,[br]appears-our production designer -
appears as a Nazi type who has[br]helped Roman Strauss out of Germany
in, I believe,[br]the Life magazine photograph,
so you see a man who looks Aryan,[br]if he wouldn't mind me saying so,
and who appears with a sinister[br]fedora in one of those very pieces.
During shooting we kept rushing off[br]to do photos for newspaper inserts.
Sometimes people say, "Why do you[br]use the same people over again? "
I slightly refute the charge[br]because there are always new people.
Scenes like this benefit[br]from rapport between the two people.
Emma and I[br]knew each other very well,
and that has to exist[br]not based on the relationship,
but based on your mutual trust[br]and admiration as actors,
but in addition, Wayne Knight,[br]who we knew socially,
that starts to inform the quality[br]of the on-screen relationship,
and there's a believability and,[br]necessarily for those scenes,
a kind of warmth, which it's harder[br]to achieve-not impossible -
when everybody's new.
So the idea of a repertory company[br]has always appealed to me,
and in films I've admired, and[br]particularly in those of Hitchcock,
in relation to this film,[br]and Wells, of course,
there were actors who appeared again[br]and again, and I understand why.
Not only do you have[br]a shorthand with the actor -
you have to use far fewer words[br]to convey what you require -
but you have[br]that under-the-skin connection
that often adds to the believability[br]of relationships.
It's not something to do exclusively[br]but it's very helpful.
Pianos went all through this picture,
and the Dead Again theme,[br]the very thing you're hearing now,
was something that Emma[br]and I had to learn.
At various stages, it became a clue,[br]and literally a key-note throughout.
And it was one of a number of themes[br]that Patrick Doyle had worked on
prior to the picture, and it was he[br]who taught us how to do it.
I don't, or didn't then,[br]play any kind of piano.
Emma did[br]and was slightly more convincing.
But it's a nice thing about doing[br]movies,
the chance to experience different[br]things that you're interested in
in a way that provides you, for free,[br]with experts who help you out.
Patrick Doyle was around[br]all the way through shooting.
His attitude has been to breathe in[br]the atmosphere of what's going on.
He's very aware that films change,[br]whatever's on the page.
There are three films-one you plan,[br]one you shoot and one you edit.
And you sense how the picture[br]is changing during shooting,
and Patrick, aside from appearing[br]as the policeman in the elevator,
was around all the time.
These scenes were reshoots.
This sequence was shot three months[br]after the film was completed,
because we felt, as a result[br]of preview information,
that there wasn't a strong enough[br]connection between Mike and Grace,
which was necessary for belief in the[br]relationship of Margaret and Roman,
and it seemed necessary to build up[br]the plot's romance and up the stakes.
And I think, probably,[br]you can see that in my face
there's more weight than[br]there was in the original movie,
something the make-up people[br]weren't pleased about.
But as I was green in judgement,[br]I hoped that we get away with it.
Also-a bit of movie trivia -[br]the day before we shot this,
I had been on my[br]first ever skiing trip, to Big Bear.
I neglected to tell[br]Lindsay Doran, our producer,
that I would be skiing[br]for the first time
and being[br]the wolfhound producer she is,
she tracked me down at a hotel[br]in Big Bear and said,
"What are you doing?[br]We're about to do expensive reshoots
"on a film the studio[br]is not happy to do" -
they never are, cos it costs money -
"You could be breaking a leg,[br]you fool! "
And so that was a lesson learned,
as the movie company insurers[br]were not thrilled
that their director[br]and leading actor
was about to possibly break his leg[br]on ski slopes in Big Bear.
I don't enjoy doing reshoots,
it feels like you clearly[br]got it wrong the first time.
Some regard them[br]as a fantastic opportunity.
The scenes themselves were written[br]right up to the last minute,
because you're trying to do[br]exactly what you think will address
what the audience[br]were somehow missing,
but at the same time making it[br]organic with what's gone before,
so that it isn't just a sort of[br]papering over of some sort of crack
that is perhaps more fundamental[br]than another scene or two might mend.
But in this case[br]it did seem that it would work
and I suppose it was something that[br]was less comfortable for us to do
because of the nature[br]of our relationship.
Sometimes it's harder[br]to do romantic scenes.
You have to travel back in time to[br]recreate moments when you first met.
But, anyway, we did it,[br]and enjoyed doing it.
This was shot in... Echo Park,[br]that's where we were.
In Los Angeles, Echo Park.[br]And we're on a Steadicam here,
and, as I recall,[br]quite a frisky area at night.
And a rather limited budget[br]on lighting,
so I remember we had a very[br]limited number of places to shoot,
and we were encouraged by the studio[br]to be economic with this sequence.
It's also odd to be in this film
and never to be acting[br]in your own natural accent,
I was either American here or I was[br]faintly German as Roman Strauss.
And accents sometimes travelled[br]across Europe and came back,
sometimes via New Delhi.
But thank God for accent tapes
and for filming days where it took[br]a while to get things started,
so when I wasn't tormenting people[br]with what I required on the set
I'd be listening to my accent tapes.
We built this platform because it[br]had a view of Los Angeles downtown,
and we wanted all those out-of-focus[br]lights in the background,
through, you will understand,[br]the artificial effect rain,
which was rained upon us[br]on a very cold night in Los Angeles.
Because of our clothing, we weren't[br]allowed to wear thermal underwear,
so pretty nippy that night.
I used to love[br]doing these scissor shots.
Get the old boys with the lightning[br]machines there and frisk them up.
We're introduced, in a moment, to a[br]character played by Campbell Scott,
who has had a fascinating career,
who a few years ago, co-directed with[br]Stanley Tucci the film Big Night,
and did a wonderful job in that.
Campbell had been playing Hamlet at[br]the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego,
and he was kind enough[br]to come and be in a small role,
despite being a rising actor[br]with many more possibilities.
And he was a big help[br]in rehearsing this scene.
We rehearsed for about[br]a fortnight before we began,
and it's very valuable,[br]especially here,
where you're trying[br]to attend to concerns about plot
and why people[br]would say certain things.
Lindsay and Scott were always[br]in rehearsals,
and there was a significant[br]amount of minor adjustments made
to accommodate good instincts[br]from the actors,
and Campbell[br]made a terrific contribution.
Again, he has the job[br]of being immediately convincing
as the apparently[br]lost boyfriend of Grace
dealing with the innate suspicion[br]of Mike Church.
This kind of scene[br]is difficult in a noir film,
we're in the middle of the day,
and we contrived to make shadows and[br]some sort of effect to give texture
in what can be[br]quite difficult to make moody,
which is the Los Angeles sun[br]in the heat of the day,
especially in terms of a noir film.
We also had here, it seems a simple[br]scene for it to have occurred in,
but one of the first lessons[br]I received
in the thorny business[br]of screen direction,
that issue of making sure[br]you're right with your angles
to make sure everyone seems to be[br]looking at each other.
I had an argument with a[br]script supervisor, Marshal Schlom,
who'd been the continuity man[br]on Psycho, and cameraman.
It's often the case that people -[br]I hasten to add we all got on -
do have strong views[br]about screen direction,
and even with all their experience,[br]and even with all my ignorance,
we argued the toss[br]until we saw dailies
and realised[br]to make various cuts work,
we should shoot the hands[br]from either direction
to make sure we were convinced[br]it would all fit together
with three people[br]in those kinds of positions.
You can try and explain it on paper[br]but sometimes it doesn't work.
Finally, we resolved it on this,[br]but this issue of crossing the line
was one that took about two hours[br]of debate on this particular day.
Caught you out!
He's a baddie, you see.
So we begin a chase sequence -[br]cut to another location.
And here we are running across[br]Shakespeare Bridge.
As I said, in a preview[br]we had a title for this bridge,
it's in the background of this shot,
small enough not to be[br]distracting for the audience,
who when they first saw it[br]gave an enormous cheer.
I wish I could say every single[br]frame of this was the two of us,
but in fact it was two[br]highly skilled stunt performers
who nevertheless weren't the ones
to receive the blow[br]in the testicular area,
which was given to me live[br]by Campbell Scott,
who was zealous to the point[br]of inflicting actual bodily harm.
But I did live to fight another day.
We tried to find some locations[br]that offered... graphic possibilities,
so the arches, the angle we shot from[br]did what we wanted in an ongoing way,
which is make for interesting texture[br]and shape and geometrical interest.
We did that with all the locations,[br]in the architecture itself,
and we looked at research[br]on old Hollywood
and found a lot[br]of old Hollywood locations.
There was a book called City Of Nets,
which was about the many German[br]emigres who came to Los Angeles
before and just after[br]the Second World War.
We looked at houses that Bertolt[br]Brecht had stayed in in Santa Monica
and we found this particular house[br]and doctored it,
and as you can imagine, in order to[br]achieve this "wedding cake" sequence
we really had designed it in colour.
This was one of the scenes where,
when the issue of printing sequences[br]in the past in black and white,
we really wondered[br]whether we had lost something.
Because in this masked party,[br]I'm very fascinated by masks,
and it seemed like, again,[br]a terrific thing texturally,
and very much in the mood[br]of this kind of picture.
As we did it there were all sorts[br]of vivid colours, greens and reds.
I think you see, once again here,[br]on the edge of shot,
Patrick Doyle,[br]making a double appearance
as composer[br]and slightly mad party guest.
Otto, the character of Otto,
here is in a devilish sort of[br]Cardinal Richelieu red outfit,
so the colour version[br]was pretty striking.
And it was one of the things that we[br]were concerned diminished things,
but having decided[br]on black and white -
which had been Scott Frank's original[br]intention-we decided to go for it.
You'll also find in the background[br]of certain shots here posters...
corny film posters, that Scott Frank[br]had great fun designing.
I'm not sure in which shots they[br]occur, but I have one in my house,
which is the story of Lefty Lebrandt,[br]a one-armed baseball player.
"One man, one arm, one legend."[br]It's in the background here.
There are three or four of Otto's[br]film posters and we designed a logo.
Scott Frank came up[br]with the various copy material.
And Tim Harvey enjoyed himself[br]designing Hollywood B-movie posters.
The smoking theme, carried on through[br]Andy Garcia's character, Gray Baker.
This was Andy's first day. Before[br]arriving looking movie-star handsome,
he had done some make-up tests[br]with the prosthetics and latex
that he was later to use[br]as the older version of Gray Baker.
There's Lefty Lebrandt himself[br]in the back of the shot.
And we also designed a cast list,
which is very much in the flavour[br]of the original kinds of B-movies.
This is the same actress who was the[br]nun at the beginning of the movie.
Some of that double casting[br]we enjoyed doing through the picture.
Partly to confuse,[br]partly to intrigue the audience,
to make them think in a way we hoped[br]was stimulating and entertaining,
that there was[br]plenty of intrigue afoot.
I learned a lesson[br]through this sequence,
which covered[br]three or four days of shooting.
The normal budgetary pressures[br]mean over the first day or two
you would book the most number[br]of extras you'd require,
and you'd shoot the big sequences,[br]the scenes with lots of people.
And that has a significant impact -[br]more people to feed and clothe,
more people to attend to them,[br]costume and make-up.
I remember the first night,[br]getting a number of shots
and thinking,[br]"I don't need any more than that,"
Iooking at the dailies the next day[br]and thinking, "I do need some more."
The practicalities of things being[br]costumes we'd hired, some period,
all of them very much tailor-made[br]to Phyllis Dalton's overall schemes.
Nothing was accidental[br]about the combinations.
Many of the period ones had to[br]go back into costume storehouses.
So when I decided,[br]"We must shoot some more of this,
"let's bring these people back,"[br]it wasn't as simple as that.
Some of the costumes[br]had gone out on hire again.
I walked up to Phyllis Dalton -[br]the most gracious, civilised woman.
"I think I've made a mistake."[br]She said, "You bloody well have."
Which is as tough as she ever got.
I saw the look of a woman who,[br]having suffered in a different way
working in the desert[br]for 18 months with David Lean,
who really did take a long time[br]to get it just right,
was irritated I was stupid enough[br]to think I got it right first time,
and didn't think about what it meant[br]to get things back in shape.
Having then printed the scenes[br]in black and white,
colour combination wasn't as vital[br]as it might otherwise have been.
These were sequences,[br]especially when they were arguing,
where the challenge[br]of playing an accent,
especially if I'd played Mike Church[br]that morning...
The schedule meant that we often,[br]in the course of one filming day,
were shooting some Mike Church[br]and some Roman,
the same went for Emma[br]as Grace and Margaret.
Often in the middle of a row like[br]this, instead of speaking like Roman,
I'd start talking like Mike Church,[br]and couldn't hear I was doing it.
It was funny to feel how these scenes[br]that carried the romantic theme -
the theme of love, of real,[br]genuine devotion to each other -
also had an emotional impact.
It's a tribute to Scott's script that[br]this combination of qualities works.
When we screened it, people really[br]did start to care about these people.
They weren't simply treating it[br]as a sort of melodrama thriller.
There was an emotional impact that[br]was definitely advantageous to have
and added to the experience.
That was the great advantage of[br]having someone like Emma play it.
Something Paramount executives[br]were generous about,
having been nervous about casting[br]non-movie stars up front.
Sydney Pollack and Lindsay Doran's[br]insistence
that I be supported over that issue[br]was much appreciated.
They were very generous once[br]the first sets of dailies came in.
They realised the benefit[br]of having someone like Emma,
who brought depth to characters
that might otherwise[br]have been seen as superficial.
I think I've had masks[br]in every film that I've made.
We sent to Venice for some of these.[br]There are great mask shops in Venice.
A lot of them, as you probably know,[br]come from the Comedia Del Arte,
the Italian theatrical form
that uses them with various[br]stereotypical characters
and many variations[br]on the same kind of theme.
It was fun to use[br]this kind of camera move,
moving in on[br]the critical information overheard.
I remember Francis Coppola advising[br]me à propos shots on telephones -
and I wish I'd known then -
was always play a shot, if you have[br]someone with a phone conversation,
with them having their back to you,[br]especially in a thriller.
Any moment where there might be[br]an interesting shot,
where you don't see[br]the actor's mouth moving is helpful,
in case some piece of exposition[br]that has not been clear
can be put there in post-production.
If we don't see lips moving, it's not[br]a question of redoing it completely.
I've always been very lucky[br]in my films with child actors.
And this young lad, Gregor Hesse,[br]was a very good example of that.
Because his role[br]was crucially important,
and I wanted a child[br]like those marvellous children
who played in a terrific movie of[br]Henry James' The Turn of the Screw.
The Innocents starred Deborah Kerr[br]and the two kids in that
had this wonderful creepy quality,[br]a sort of angelic look
but in everything they said was[br]some ambiguity and sinister quality.
And Gregor,[br]who was of German extraction,
did a very convincing accent[br]and he was very straight and real.
And he was an interesting lesson[br]in how to treat children,
which is to treat them[br]like grown-ups, like proper actors.
He got on well with Hanna Schygulla,[br]who like most good actors,
approached it like another acting[br]colleague and established trust,
and it meant those scenes were[br]much easier than I imagined.
One always gets worried with the[br]cliché about working with children,
that one won't be able to[br]work with them the same way.
And young Gregor came to rehearsals[br]and was very helpful to us
and gave a terrific performance.
This is a moment where,[br]because of what's being said,
you felt the audience were putting[br]some version of the story together.
And Scott Frank is deliberately[br]leading us in the direction
of believing Roman Strauss[br]must have killed his wife.
Yet there's quite a bit of the movie[br]to go so it can't be true.
In a preview you can judge[br]how an audience is listening
from the quality of the silence.
It sounds silly, but you can hear[br]confusion in a silence
and hear concentration in a silence,[br]and you can hear boredom as well.
Not just in silences, but as[br]the doors slam on their way out.
Our 500th pair of scissors[br]on this shoot, which we kept losing.
This film put me off having scissors[br]in the house for the rest of my life.
Scenes like this we very deliberately[br]underscored with dramatic music.
Patrick Doyle was much influenced[br]by Bernard Herrmann,
a great cinema composer[br]and a great composer full stop.
But we definitely went[br]for this full-blooded score.
I think it's a testament[br]to its effectiveness
that Patrick and I have heard this[br]used in movie trailers since then.
It moves the action on and directs[br]the audience in a film like this.
Trying not to manipulate but to say,
"We mean it to be scary now.[br]And now it's romantic."
"And now the tone changes."[br]Wind machines a-go-go here.
This is something the audience[br]may have been expecting.
We tried to suggest that[br]if you believe in reincarnation,
then not only the central characters[br]would have had past lives,
or indeed, if they're still alive,[br]would have lived during that period -
we establish that[br]through the nun and the party girl,
and Patrick Doyle, our mad composer,[br]doing the same thing -
we introduce the idea that someone[br]is still alive from that time.
The man in question is Gray Baker.
And given the number of cigarettes[br]that he smoked,
we're expecting to see something[br]quite unusual.
This is another uninterrupted[br]Steadicam shot,
the kind of thing[br]that threw the lighting cameraman,
particularly[br]at this kind of light level.
It's difficult to light and you[br]provide all sorts of difficulties
and possibilities of shadows and it[br]takes up a large portion of the day.
This is when what some people[br]unkindly refer to as the suits,
the executives from the movie[br]company, come down on the set,
because the phone call[br]hasn't gone through at 9am
to say you've made the first shot.
This is a good moment in a movie[br]like this, he says immodestly,
but it was a good moment and a thrill[br]for the audience when he says...
Ah! You see, it must be him![br]We got such a reaction!
This was one of the great pleasures[br]of watching the previews.
People would give an enormous jump,[br]great screams.
Even people thinking, "Why am I being[br]drawn into this absolute tosh? "
But thank God[br]people were increasingly intrigued
by something[br]that was difficult to work out.
And now we get to the sequence which,[br]again, was one of the main reasons
that the people who had not[br]chosen to make this film
prior to it arriving on my lap[br]had found difficult.
First of all, there was this issue,
"Well, can people accept[br]this gothic intensity?
"Will it not just seem over the top? "[br]I'm sure for many people it did.
But it certainly allows[br]for a real cinematic experience
and I had no problem with[br]trying for that gothic intensity.
Then there's the issue[br]of reincarnation.
There are many people[br]who simply won't accept
that that's something[br]that can be a believable basis
for a story that attempts[br]to hang its central points on that.
And then this sequence,[br]which at the time not everybody gets,
which is as Mike Church is regressed,
trying to find out[br]who he was in that past life,
we're confused by looking in the[br]mirror, his point of view, to see...
Talking about[br]the quality of silences,
there's a thick silence[br]at that point in the cinema.
Some people got it[br]and some people didn't.
Again, Scott Frank cleverly doesn't[br]explicitly say it in dialogue here,
but for those prepared to accept it,[br]we finally understood he was she,
and she was he.
For those who got it,[br]especially the guys,
my experience was there was[br]quite a lot of amusement.
We felt we might lose the audience[br]here, people may find it too risible,
but I think on the whole people[br]decided, "No, good twist."
And once again Scott undercuts it[br]with not only something funny,
but yet one more piece[br]of information.
So that the twists and turns[br]kept coming.
It was one of the things that[br]kept me reading all the way through
and we felt we could exploit[br]as we made the picture,
that we weren't going to have endless[br]sequences of relationship stuff,
but that it would be plot-packed.
And you could feel musically[br]and in terms of intensity
that the story's starting to crank up[br]with a very confused Mike Church,
who we've planted a certain degree[br]of would-be machismo in.
He's very thrown indeed by the idea[br]that he might have been a woman,
something Cozy Carlisle is going to[br]have great fun discussing.
In case you're interested,[br]it was great fun driving that car.
You could feel at the preview that[br]the audience were looking forward
to what Cozy Carlisle's[br]reaction would be.
I remember shooting these scenes[br]in a real freezer in Los Angeles.
We would have to switch[br]the freezer on between takes
so that we could maintain[br]the cold temperature.
In fact, we shot these[br]the first day that Robin was working,
and wanting to stay in character,
he stayed in the freezer[br]almost the whole time.
The door was open but the[br]freezing unit was on between takes.
Indeed, we managed to give him[br]a terrible cold, of course,
which is why he had trouble when[br]we came to the supermarket sequence.
Pretty clear advice there[br]from Cozy Carlisle.
This is not a scene[br]for vegetarians to watch easily.
Another line that[br]used to get a big laugh.
Even people who resisted[br]the idea of reincarnation,
if they were still in the cinema,[br]enjoyed the conceit
of following through what[br]they might regard as bizarre logic
of this parallel universe created[br]by Scott to serve this murder plot.
Definitely a Scott Frank line[br]designed for Robin Williams.
Here we come to something called[br]the High Tower House.
I can't really give away the location[br]in LA, but it's in Hollywood.
It was a fantastic location,[br]the exterior is very much there
and the elevator is the only swift[br]means of getting up to the house.
Obviously, a terrific,[br]striking piece of architecture.
It's very strong on that landscape,[br]you can see it from Sunset.
The interior, we built once again[br]on the sound stages at Paramount
and once again, Tim Harvey had[br]an extraordinary time and great fun
shooting this sequence, where[br]the haunted creature of Amanda -
what we now realise is[br]the new identity of Grace -
has filled her studio[br]with endless images of scissors.
Here's another case of director's[br]stubbornness, a mistake in the movie.
When we shot the sequence[br]where they come in,
we started on the scissors painting[br]and we moved to Emma's face
and we have her[br]carry us around the room.
When we shot it, Lindsay Doran,[br]the producer, said,
"We should have a shot of Emma,[br]then inserts of the scissor sculpture
"to make the point that[br]this is the nature of her studio."
I remember, I think more through[br]stubbornness and ego,
saying, "No, I want this reveal."
The fact is,[br]we just got away with it.
It used to be a slow burn[br]of a reaction in the cinema,
people realising, "Oh, God, it's full[br]of scissor sculpture. How creepy."
The shorthand of it would have been[br]more effective
with a shot of her face,[br]then back to shots of the sculptures,
and back to her, then maybe popping[br]out for a wide shot at the end.
I refused to shoot the coverage[br]to have an alternative,
and Lindsay Doran, a very patient[br]producer but very dogged,
simply couldn't get her own way[br]with the director,
who was stupid not to have listened.
But we all make mistakes,[br]and that was one of mine.
It didn't cost us the scene,[br]but I remember thinking,
"No, this is probably[br]not as effective."
I was determined not to do things[br]as prosaic as inserts.
I wanted some fluidity to the[br]sequence, and so went for my version.
I've learned it's good to do the[br]alternatives because you never know.
I think in this case[br]I would have been wiser to do that.
But fair play to Lindsay[br]for letting me get away with it,
because it made me a little happier.
Made sure I didn't stomp out[br]of the trailer or whatever.
You'll see in the night-time sequence[br]that comes up shortly,
that outside this apartment we have[br]a clear view of the Hollywood hills.
We took real pictures[br]and produced a huge translight,
a fantastic photograph of the view[br]which was entirely convincing.
I hope you'll agree when you see it.
The very camera test I talked about[br]earlier that Andy Garcia made
in order to test this old-age make-up
was something we also[br]had to experiment with.
We covered this scene many ways,[br]but decided to start with this shot,
where we're wide and we move out,
and where Andy Garcia's character[br]is lit rather shadowily.
When we started the scene[br]with a close-up of Gray Baker
people found it very difficult[br]to accept him,
however convincing the make-up was[br]and the performance was.
And so this long, slow move in,
in which we have a chance to continue[br]being intrigued by the story,
meant that the audience[br]were more hooked into the scene.
We could establish the idea that the[br]Gray Baker character has a voice box,
he talks with a microphone[br]which he presses into his throat.
There wasn't the temptation for the[br]audience to criticise the make-up,
because when we do go to the first[br]close-up, it is rather startling.
In the first preview, people laughed,
it took them out of the scene,[br]they lost the information,
and didn't get a chance[br]to see how well Andy acted this
and how good the make-up was.
So you see there, we gave[br]a tiny piece of him in a mid-shot.
We don't hold the close-ups too long[br]until we've given them the chance
to accept that this convention -[br]young actor in make-up-will work.
This moment probably drew the biggest[br]reaction in the entire cinema.
This was based on a moment[br]Scott Frank, the writer, had.
He was in a restaurant and he saw[br]someone who had had a tracheotomy,
and who was breathing through[br]that tiny hole in their throat.
And he saw them do something[br]pretty extraordinary,
and decided[br]it had to go into a movie.
As we know, both through[br]Mike's attempts to give up
and the constant smoking[br]of Gray Baker earlier in the film,
that this would be[br]the perfect moment for it.
There was a certain[br]kind of gory disbelief
that what was about to happen[br]was going to happen.
But the reaction in the cinema,[br]when the following occurred,
was as noisy and singular a reaction[br]to anything I've ever seen or heard.
Obviously a special effect.
We had a strange contraption[br]under the table
and a prop guy was bent double.
And it tells the all too horrible[br]truth about the addiction
some people have to cigarettes.
As you can imagine, on the day,[br]Andy spoke in his normal voice
and the treatment of the voice[br]occurred in post-production.
This moment,[br]which is as simple as it seems,
is something that[br]threw the audience enormously.
There was concern about it perhaps[br]meaning more, but he did kiss him.
Big shock coming up.
Indeed, The Laughing Duke, the very[br]fancy, eccentric toy we saw earlier.
Another moment that got[br]a great reaction.
As I read it, I had the same reaction[br]of really admiring the cleverness
of Scott's construction[br]of this whole plot,
and the surprise and enjoyment[br]of how you got caught up in it.
And by this stage of the game,
there's a real sense-and Pat's[br]music picks it up-of internal pace.
The rhythm of the movie[br]is firing away.
We know we're getting so near the[br]dénouement in relation of the story
and that possibly, we're going to[br]have a physical climax to the film.
I don't know whether anybody[br]spotted it at the time,
but in retrospect - I didn't spot it,[br]such is my piercing intelligence -
that of course, the character played[br]by Derek Jacobi is Franklyn Madson.
Or, if you look at his surname[br]in more detail,
Franklyn mad son.
And so from the very moment[br]you hear his name, there's a clue.
Here you see the visual possibilities[br]of the High Tower House.
It looks like a set[br]made for a film noir movie.
We shot once again on prosthetic[br]make-up with Hanna Schygulla.
There are difficulties-the[br]application process takes a long time
and it's difficult for the actors.
They have to come in very early,[br]and sometimes it doesn't work.
Their skin dries out,[br]they get cranky.
With Andy and Hanna[br]we were very lucky.
And we were lucky that,[br]given the noir-ish look that we had,
that the make-up[br]wasn't under phenomenal pressure
in terms of what we saw -[br]people were mostly in shadow.
but the maintenance of[br]that kind of make-up takes some time.
So it does require patience and you[br]often end up working long hours.
Having gone through all trouble of[br]getting them into the prosthetics -
especially if[br]they've been applied well -
you try and exploit that time[br]so they end up being long days
and prosthetic make-up days[br]usually were.
By this stage, we're trying to[br]tie up so many loose ends at once,
and it was many previews[br]before we did begin
to be able to know how economic we[br]could be about tying up loose ends.
There were many variations on this.
Our initial previews for this film[br]were disastrous.
All the kinds of combinations of tone[br]that I've talked about up to now
were not firmly enough[br]and clearly enough mixed together.
So this section of the movie,[br]where we explain the past
without it being too heavy-handedly[br]expositional, took a long time.
So the movie previewed[br]six or seven times,
the first couple of times[br]absolutely disastrously.
Then after preview four or five,[br]we decided to help clarify things
with the past sequences[br]being printed for black and white.
We made a huge step forward.
Once this process of[br]trying to break up the information
so it wasn't just "this happened,[br]he went there, she did this".
Once we found the way to do that,
always thinking the film[br]should be under two hours,
we began to make real progress, and[br]from a disastrous opening preview,
the scores, for what they're worth,[br]turned around
and the balance was struck between[br]not patronising the audience
but at the same time doing our best[br]to make the story clear.
This scene was immensely helpful.[br]Originally played in one,
but eventually used[br]with lots of intercut material
that previously had been[br]part of long, narrative sections.
Most of the black-and-white stuff[br]ended up being internally cut
to work in a much briefer way,
and this was one scene[br]where it was immensely helpful.
Where we had the chance,[br]I like just what's about to come up,
because it's a real thriller moment.
He leaves, and were going to have a[br]bit of screeching rubber in a moment.
She goes to put the television on.
The audience are thinking, "We[br]haven't seen Derek Jacobi for a bit.
"Is she going to get away with it? "
It's a simple shot. She puts the TV[br]on, we stay on the television,
and fiddle-dee-dee, Pat Doyle[br]gives us a lovely drum roll.
And again, it may seem like[br]a corny old thing,
but the audience were very thrown[br]by that and they also are terrified
by what they know is bound to happen.
No longer do we see the charming,[br]mellifluous voice
of the rather light[br]and camp Mr Madson,
but we see the rather more dead-eyed,[br]rather sinister son,
who loves not wisely, but too well.
We take the music out here,[br]for all this time,
because we know something awful[br]is about to occur.
Derek Jacobi plays it with surprising[br]and very effective emotion.
Quote from Hamlet, by the way.
Leave the camera on her.[br]Little glimpse of the cushion.
Has he gone?
Of course he hasn't.
Using the sound and music -[br]pulling sound out, putting music in,
and playing with the orchestration[br]of the scares.
Scares to be had here were something[br]we had great fun with.
And because it's the last sequence,
you've got to provide a problem[br]for the hero, which is the car.
It would be much too easy[br]if he got there at the right time.
Just in case you hadn't seen a pair[br]of scissors before, at this point,
let's produce the famous pair that[br]killed Margaret in the first place.
Specially designed and a bugger[br]to focus on there,
because they were held loosely[br]by Derek Jacobi,
and you have to be so close[br]to the object.
Things like that suddenly[br]take two hours to shoot
in order to read Die Schere[br]on the blade.
We had lots of fun getting the angles[br]on this elevator shaft
and lots of fun in post-production[br]with sounds and crunches and wheels.
They were part of our soundtrack[br]at this point.
Not just the music, but the actual[br]mechanics of the elevator.
We're playing with the audience.[br]"Is it him? Is it her? Is it Madson?
"Is it Pete? Who's coming through[br]that door? Will someone get there?
"How's it going to work out? "
It was so wonderful,[br]when it started to work,
to be in the audience when they were[br]on the edge of their seat.
As you'll see, as I mentioned[br]earlier, this huge translight -
which was fantastically expensive -[br]this full-length view from the house
on a very clear night in Hollywood.
But we're very much,[br]and firmly, inside the room.
We're in a sound stage at Paramount
and outside the door we're up on[br]that hill at the High Tower House.
So now he goes round[br]the outside of the real house.
And now, we're inside the studio,[br]with the translight behind us.
And, thank God, just in case it comes[br]under more scrutiny than it can bear,
all the blinds come down.
So for the rest of this extended[br]sequence we're not thinking,
"Is that really outside?[br]I think it's a painting."
We're really trying to confuse[br]the audience's expectations.
Scott Frank, very cleverly, decided[br]that he would push it to the limit,
because the last thing[br]you would expect,
now that we know that Mike Church[br]cannot have killed her
because he was she -[br]he was the one who got killed -
and the last thing that could happen[br]is that he gets shot.
And we immediately throw ourselves[br]into slow motion
and into the more lyrical elements[br]of the operatic theme
that spring from Roman Strauss'[br]being a composer and which,
alongside the fast-moving,[br]pulsating thriller themes
that accompany this end of the movie,
we punctuated with,[br]some would say grandiloquent,
operatic motifs[br]that go through the sequence.
Oh, hello. That'll be the villain.[br]Right on cue.
Many people thought[br]that Derek Jacobi,
who had famously played[br]the stuttering Roman emperor Claudius
in the hugely successful TV series[br]l, Claudius,
was doing a sort of in-joke here, in[br]the stutter that's about to come up.
I'll talk a little about this shot.
What you're about to see -[br]the recreation of the murder -
was originally not the series[br]of intercut sequences you'll see,
but was one long Steadicam shot[br]that involved the entire studio.
In this sequence, we travel round,[br]we moved a wall,
the bed was lifted up,[br]every member of the studio staff
was involved in making this[br]one uninterrupted sequence.
Which, put together, turned out[br]to be too long and too involved.
So it became intercut both with Roman[br]composing at the piano
and with the modern sequence[br]in the flat.
You can imagine the blood was rather[br]more vivid in the colour sequence.
It looks like Frankie[br]will get away with it.
All of this was part of the same[br]Steadicam shot that ended up cut.
And in the end we thought[br]that mirroring in the present
what was going on in the past[br]in this much briefer version
was more effective and allowed us[br]to maintain the tension.
But of course it's a thriller,[br]so the hero can't possibly be dead.
And we hope that the audience are[br]enjoying that rather than hating it.
I knew those scissors[br]would come in handy one time.
Serves him right.
During the rehearsal of this fight,[br]which was myself and Derek Jacobi,
I instructed Derek, terrifically[br]committed to all of this -
that was a shot that took forever,[br]by the way -
I told Derek Jacobi whatever he does,[br]you must always cheat it.
So when I smash his head[br]on the shelf,
he must put his hands there[br]in order to soften the blow.
Derek was absolutely certain[br]this would be the case
until we shot the sequence, and he[br]hit his real head on the real shelf
and was concussed for the next hour.
A lesson to actors out there -[br]do what the stunt director tells you.
Although this sequence is only a few[br]minutes long, it took days to build,
including building in[br]this piece of comedy.
Although it's very tense,[br]on the day we did this,
we all found it amusing[br]to be staring at each other -
someone's got scissors covered in[br]blood and someone else has got a gun,
who's about to stutter.
Very good line from Scott Frank.
I insisted Derek Jacobi[br]should wear a toga,
just to absolutely make[br]the connection with l, Claudius.
Now the full operatic works[br]of Patrick Doyle come in.
There are lyrics to the choral work[br]going on here,
lyrics we drew[br]from Shakespeare's play Othello,
one that deals very significantly[br]with jealousy.
And here's where we wrap up,[br]in this montagey way,
all of the pictorial ends[br]of the plot.
And where I had to spend[br]half an afternoon
coaxing Derek Jacobi to make the leap[br]that he would have to make
in order to fulfil Scott Frank's[br]desired end for the villain here,
which is either massively[br]and camply over the top
or as we thought,[br]entirely appropriate.
A very brave Derek Jacobi did that[br]as I moved the scissors into place,
and you'll be relieved to know[br]that it wasn't him doing that.
For your interest,[br]we had a stunt guy on the scissors
and pulled him back on spring wires[br]and then reversed the film,
so that we could make sure[br]he hit the scissors each time.
With a film like this[br]there were many different endings.
Romance is shot through the film and[br]being a rabid old romantic myself,
we wanted to find a way[br]to finish off this theme
of love lasting successfully forever,[br]in the context of the movies, anyway.
So we came up[br]with this series of shots
that took us back through the house[br]that more or less began the film.
And then back through[br]Roman and Margaret,
and we wanted to dissolve[br]to Mike and Grace.
In order to match the characters,[br]we had to flip the negative,
so that Roman dissolved into Grace
and Margaret into Mike Church.
Previously,[br]we'd lined them up the same way
because we thought that made sense.
In the end, we thought this did.
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