Luke Scott talks ‘Morgan,’ casting choices, and his father’s inspiration.

MorganMovieReview

On August 23, 2016, I attended a special screening of the film, Morgan at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. The screening was part of a live broadcast to all the Alamo theaters and featured a post-screening Q&A with Luke Scott, Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Ridley Scott. While I didn’t get to ask anyone a question at the event, I did get to sit down the next day and talk with Luke Scott about his directorial debut. 

If you are interested in reading my thoughts on the film, please check out my review: https://weliveentertainment.com/welivefilm/morgan-review-hanna-meets-ex-machina/

Please note that this interview does contain spoilers especially near the end of the interview where we discuss the ending in great detail. If you are someone who is interested in seeing the film and don’t want the ending to be spoiled, I would highly advise that once you see the question about the ending that you stop reading and watch the film before continuing to read the article. With that being said, here is my delightful interview with Ridley Scott’s son, Luke.

Were you in the theater last night when the film played?

No, I didn’t – I couldn’t bear to go in there. I’ve seen it so many times now. And I just thought, “Guys, enjoy it.”

So in my review,  my headline is going to be Morgan is Hanna meets Ex Machina. Because I feel like that’s a good combination and a good summary of how I felt about your film.

That’s good company to have for sure.

So, this is your first feature length film. Can you talk a little bit about going from a short film to a major release like this? 

Well there were a few other experiences in between. So I worked a lot of second unit on big movies. So I was familiar with the territory so to speak. But obviously, doing it – where you’re answerable only to yourself, is a slightly different and isolating experience. So that was interesting. And obviously 33 days, you’re in that kind of isolation. But I enjoy that. It’s kind of a nice place to be. The focus, the kind of – almost obsessive, monastic life that I tend to lead, really kicked in then. So, yeah.

Growing up, you lived in a film lovers household and a lot of passion for filmmaking. And specifically, I’ve noticed a lot of trends with the sci-fi and action genres. So what’s that about? Like is there a reason why your family and yourself are drawn to like the action sci-fi thing? 

Yeah, I love a fight. I love action. Going to the cinema, or going to the movies is for me about excitement and having a ride. I mean that’s not to say that I don’t enjoy more cerebral kinds of movies. Youth and The Great Beauty were two of my favorite movies over the last few years from Paolo Sorrentino.

Yeah, he’s a great Director. 

So I love that kind of thing. But at the same time, I like the action. I like the kind of fantasy, the new world of science fiction. And I like what that offers. And it gives you license to really blur the lines – you know, create worlds.

What was it like working with your father on the film, and how much creative control did he have with the final product? 

We made the film through Scott Free Productions. My dad read the script and loved it. And just said, “That’s great. You do what you need to do–” What he calls it, “Had a great engine.” So he didn’t say, “Oh, you need to work on this, and you need to work on that.” He just said, “Go and fucking make it.” I said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. But I–” He said, “Just go and make it.” “Yeah, but I need to know.” “Just go and do it.” So I made adjustments to suit my own personal tastes. And he really just called me weekly, on the weekend just to find out. After my welfare, “How you doing, son?” “I’m doing good.” “Yeah, yeah, yeah, anything?” “No, no nothing to worry about.” So yeah, that was great. And then he really came into his own at the end of the project, through the editorial. Where he gave his – his opinion on how to best – get the best cut out of it. And was very constructive, and really was a huge help in that area.

I’ve got to say, thank you for not making the film feel bloated. I think there is something to be said when a movie is about 90 minutes long nowadays. Because I feel like every film is well over 2 hours long nowadays. So, it was a nice change of pace to have a movie in the sci-fi and action genre that wasn’t overly long. Was that always the intent to keep it short and sweet?

I think so. I mean, initially, we ended up with a pretty good 2-hour cut. But after looking at it, you kind of go, “Some of it’s repetitive. Why do we need to say this again? We’re saying it again, the same thing again but in a slightly different way.” And so, a lot of the scenes were cut. It’s a movie that takes place over only a 24-hour period, pretty much. So there’s only so much you can cram into that. If we’d added in anymore, I think we would’ve had problems.

Right. 

So I think – yeah – 90 minutes is a pretty good length to tell that kind of story. Because it is almost a real time event in a way. We didn’t get too much into backstory, I suppose – which is fine.

Sometimes less is more. 

Less is more, that’s true.

And I felt like that was the case with this one. 

Great.

I want to bring up the Paul Giamatti scene, but first, I need to talk about Kate and Anya being in the film. What was it about those two that stood out? I just felt like both of them were so different, but they both nailed their roles so perfectly. What was it about their personalities that stood out to you?

I met Kate on the set of the Martian.

Wonderful film, by the way. Tell your dad that for me, please. 

It’s a terrific film and I worked the second unit on that. And so, I had contact with her, and I heard she was great. But for me, what it was her personality is so professional, focused and like, “You know what? I need somebody like that.” She’s got a great look. That wasn’t the overriding sort of reason. But she’s got a terrific face. It’s like really fantastic, great structure. And she had the ability to play it really fucking ice cold.

Yeah. 

And I’ll mention this, is that it’s important that her togetherness in real life, she exudes that. It is something that she brought to the role itself. It’s very focused. And I needed somebody who could maintain that focus for 33 days. She was that. And so it’s there on the screen. It’s like she is unwavering. And I love that. Terrific. And Anya was again, a real godsend, actually. Because I didn’t want to create a monster movie. I wanted to make something that was familiar and was vulnerable. That had all these issues kind of like a teenager, hence the hoodie.

Yeah, yeah. 

And so I was shown some great actors. But they were very feminine. And I’m not saying that Anya’s not feminine. But they were kind of like a feminine ideal of beauty.

I like that. I know what you’re saying. It wasn’t the standard, typical like, “Oh this is a gorgeous woman, like Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina where It’s like, “Oh my God, she’s gorgeous.”

And you meet Anya, and she’s otherworldly. She’s a beautiful human being on the one hand but strange and ethereal on the other. She’s like an Angel in a way. Or a demon – I don’t know which. But she’s the witch. So she’s got tremendous vulnerability, but there’s a kind of darkness in there, which I really like. Also, she’s got the skills to carry that forward. She had a really tough job to kind of keep playing this character that was vulnerable but angry, vulnerable but angry – all the way through. Must have been a nightmare for her. But she was great. And like I said, the real strength was what I found in her personality, which was this kind of really enchanting otherworldly-ness.

For my last question which is kind of two questions in one. In terms of the ending, what would you like people to take away from that? And if you don’t mind just for my own curiosity could you also talk a little bit about that Paul Giamatti scene, because I thought that scene was such a stand out moment.

What audiences should take away from it? You mean the ending, ending?

Yeah, the ending, ending. There seemed like there was this statement that you’re trying to make at the end of the movie. And it’s funny, because someone asked you at the Q&A last night about it and you said, “Hush, hush, I’m not going to talk about it.” But I’m just wondering about that voice that you hear early on and finally see in the end.

I like the fact that we pull the rug out. I mean to me, it’s immaterial whether you figure out at the beginning or at the end. I think it doesn’t detract from the scene at the end, where you go– It really is what you thought it was. “Oh cool, I knew it, I knew it.” Or that you get the audience members who go, “Oh fucking hell, I didn’t see that coming.”

I totally agree.

So I don’t mind either way about how the ending plays out, but I think what it is, is that there’s this level of harshness to it. It’s a very dark note on a fundamental level– So you wonder, is the movie about Anya, or is it about Kate?

Right.

I love this. I think it’s a real sudden table turn. Like, “Oh wait, wait, wait, who is that – what?” Because it makes that sad scene of Anya at the end more complicated. It’s like, “Hang on a minute, oh–” That makes it so much more tragic. Because you suddenly realize it’s not about her, it’s about Kate, and it was always was about Kate. And it’s subtle. It’s a real subtle energy. But you realize, “Ah it’s 2, 2–”

It’s like 2 things competing against one another.

Yeah, it’s just the test. It’s awful. And the company was prepared to test the 2 projects in real time. That’s harsh. And the one that was better evolved, that was less human – wins.

Wow, very interesting. 

And then the Paul Giamatti scene – that’s why I did the movie. Because I thought, “That’s a great scene and he’s terrific. And Paul is an amazing actor. And he was a masterclass. And I wasn’t lying when I said they did it in one take. We made them redo it many, many times – but – from soup to nuts, And they were game, but I think it really made it quite an emotional sequence, because it’s consistent all the way through.

I think the most interesting part about that scene is that if it was you and me doing that scene and you were pushing me that hard, I’m sure I would’ve snapped on you. Because it just got to the point where there was so much emotion. And he was just like, “Go ahead, hit me. Hit me” “Show me what you want to do. Show me what you want to do. “

He’s really got into it.

It’s the powerfulness of Paul Giamatti’s performance, he simply terrific. 

Yeah, he’s one of my favorite actors.

Thank you so much.

Pleasure.

It was a pleasure. I think the marketing campaign on this movie was great. So I’m really hoping that the critics are nice to it, and that they take it and appreciate what it for what it is and the effort that you’ve made too.

Me too. But that’s very kind of you. So thank you very much.

Thank you very much.

Great questions by the way.

Thank you so much. Have a great one, okay.

Thanks.

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