Director Duncan Jones Talks Source Code and Why He Passed on Superman
Posted 01.22.11 by Ryan
Director Duncan Jones impressed critics and a cult audience with his 2009 debut sci-fi movie, Moon, which saw Sam Rockwell alone in a space station with nothing but a computer to talk to, and decided to stay in the genre for his follow-up, Source Code, which follows Jake Gyllenhaal as a soldier that wakes up in another man's body and tries to stop a train explosion. So far, one trailer for the movie exists, which wouldn't be that unusual if the movie wasn't coming out in April. Several new interviews with Jones have been released online, with Jones telling ComingSoon why he's choosing to keep most of the plot details for Source Code a secret.
Well, I had what I thought was a horrible experience on Moon in that what I thought was a really fundamental reveal was given away in the trailer. But there seems to be something really weird about trailers these days and what they're able to do. I, for one, tend to avoid trailers as much as I can. They seem to reveal a lot more than I would want them to. But with this film, there's a lot that is not revealed in the trailer. You may think there's more revealed in the trailer than there is, actually. It's tricky. Trailers have a job to do. You have to excite an audience and get them to want to come see a film. At the same time, you want to hold back as much as you can for the actual film. You want to give them a new experience rather than just an elongated version of the trailer. So you just have to find that balance.
Jones admitted he prefers the "openness" of science fiction that "let you, as a storyteller, bend the rules and try ideas out on them that, in the real world, might seem too manipulative" which seems about right with a movie that features technology that allows a person to wake up in another's body. Jones says the story works on a level somewhat akin to Groundhog Day.
...yes, there is a repetition of events surrounding this explosion on a train and this character, Stevens, the guy that Jake plays, has to figure out why this is happening and if there's a way he can stop it from happening. That's the nature of it. Who it is he interacts with that's sending him on this mission, I think that's better to wait and see. But there is an interesting logic to it... It starts off Tabula rasa with Stevens not knowing anything. Over the course of events, he discovers more and more each time. It's by learning more and more each time that he acquires the information he needs to do something about it... It's like getting puzzle pieces and then each time getting more and more puzzle pieces.
As for what he will direct next, Jones doesn't seem to know. Earlier this month, Jones admitted that his Blade Runner-inspired thriller Mute was "in limbo". For a time, Jones was also on a shortlist of directors for the upcoming reboot of Superman that Christopher Nolan is producing. Jones admits he was "intimidated" by the scope of the project.
I was thrilled to be on that short list. For me, that was enough. I don't know if I would be ready for that leap yet. I did have a meeting with Chris and he's a fantastic guy and seemed to have really enjoyed Moon, so there was some legitimate interest in me. I think, maybe, I'm not quite ready for that scale of project and that scale of expectation from an audience that is already existing and is waiting to see the next generation of Superman film. I don't know. It's a hard one. I'm a huge Superman fan and Bizarro Superman fan. And also a big Judge Dredd fan, which was another one that came my way. Those are two very different scales of projects. Superman was so big that I think I was a little intimidated by it and sort of backed out. Judge Dredd I really thought about and it ended up not being right for me because I had such strong feelings and opinions on what I wanted that film to be. Although I really like what they're going to do with it, it's not the film that I was going to make. So that one wasn't going to work out.
Instead of working on Mute, which Jones says he may turn into a graphic novel, he has another, secret, sci-fi project in the works that Jones told Slashfilm will be "based on something that a few hardcore geeks will be excited about." As usual, Jones wouldn't reveal much more.
Next Showing: Source Code
opens April 1