When I sat down to talk with Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, and Jason Clarke, it was a few days after Oldman's appearance on Jimmy Kimmel's show to try to put to rest the controversy over comments he made during his recent Playboy interview.
I'm glad it had already fizzled out. I've met Oldman before, in a very odd circumstance involving a film directed by a mutual friend, and I really enjoyed chatting with him then. He's a smart guy with a very specific background during an era of British independent film that I find wildly interesting. I could spend hours talking to him about his early work and the filmmakers he's worked with if he'd indulge me, and it would never occur to me to delve into politically correct language.
When discussing “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes,” the exceptional new film by Matt Reeves, one of the things I found interesting is just how spare the film is in terms of typical exposition. The film works with an efficiency that's very similar to the storytelling in the last film Reeves made, “Let Me In,” and it's one of the many things that makes “Dawn” feel special among typical summer movie blockbusters.
“Matt had the guts to sort of say 'You know what? We could lose that. We could lose that and keep it a little more ambiguous…'” Oldman elaborated, saying, “In the first speech that I have from the scaffold, when I try to quell the madness, there was one section in there that was a little bit expositional… I want to sound like a human being, and not someone who's coming up with the plot.” I loved it when he finally got blunt. “What I'm saying is I'd rather do it with two lines and a look, you know what I mean?”
When I explained to the three of them that I was really moved by the idea of an action movie where I didn't want the action to start because I was afraid of what it would mean, they all visibly reacted to that idea.
“That was there from the beginning, but Matt definitely sculpted it and chiseled it away through the entire course of the film,” Jason Clarke offered. “When you put the image of the apes… there's so much empathy and understanding and intelligence there… I think Fox and Matt have done something extraordinary here in terms of what a blockbuster and can be and where a big sequel can go to.”
If you haven't, check out my review for the film, and I'll have more interviews with the people who brought this amazing vision to life, including director Matt Reeves, star Andy Serkis, and the remarkable team behind the unforgettable apes.
And before you say anything about my hair, we were sitting outside at Crissy Field, in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge, and the wind was insane. Wait till you see the interview where I'm standing at the end of a dock.
“Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes” opens this Friday.