‘Predestination’ directors on Ethan Hawke and their gender-bending time travel trip

Ethan Hawke had a pretty great experience at SXSW this year. It marked the hometown premiere of Richard Linklater's “Boyhood,” and he was also there with a new film from Michael and Peter Spierig. He starred in their last film, “Daybreakers,” back in 2009, and having him onboard for “Predestination” was what allowed them to get it made.

The Spierigs fascinate me. Their first film, “Undead,” was stylish and lovely, but I thought it was also dramatically inert, miscast in a critical role. Hollywood's been flirting with them since the moment they made that film, and “Daybreakers” looked like a big step forward, with recognizable movie stars like Hawke, Willem Dafoe, and Sam Neill. It didn't connect, though, and now five years later, they're back with a much smaller film, although no less ambitious than anything they've done so far.

When I sat down with them at SXSW, there was a fair amount of ground I wanted to cover. The film, based on Robert Heinlein's story, “All You Zombies,” is a brain-bender, a puzzle designed around time travel, and what I found most interesting about the way they adapted it is how the film ends up being an almost one-of-a-kind look at gender politics. That's one of the subjects we dug into, and I also wanted to talk to them about the way they created their retro-flavored future for the movie.

One of my biggest fetishes in film is when there's a movie that is set in the future when it was made, but which is set in what is now our past. If there's a science-fiction film that opens with “THE YEAR IS 1987. IT IS A TIME OF ROBOTS.”, then I am all-in, and “Predestination” makes some really fascinating choices about how its future looks, using Heinlein's story as the jumping-off point.

This is a little longer than the interviews you typically get to do at press days, and I really enjoyed catching up with the Spierigs, who I hope have many more films in them.

“Predestination” opens in theaters today.