Between 2011 and 2014, J.C. Chandor wrote and directed three movies – the always rewatchable meditation on the financial collapse, Margin Call; the almost dialogue-free meditation on death, All is Lost; and the slow-burning meditation on crime, A Most Violent Year – and then, during the last five years, there’s been nothing.
Well, that’s not exactly true. There was his high profile, very public departure from Deepwater Horizon, a movie that would wind up starring Mark Wahlberg and directed by Peter Berg that would go on to gain decent reviews, but lost money at the box office. Chandor, for his part, still thinks parting ways was the best outcome for him – and he explains ahead why, specifically, that happened.
And Chandor very much disagrees with Steven Spielberg’s new crusade to block, or at least limit, streaming movies from Oscar contention. Chandor’s latest film, Triple Frontier – about five military veterans (Oscar Isaac, Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Pedro Pascal, Garrett Hedlund) who reunite to pull off a heist against a Brazilian drug lord — is exactly the kind of film that big studios have forgotten: The mid-range budget movie that isn’t connected to any previous work. Triple Frontier has been in production in some form since 2010 and, sadly, the kind of movie that really only gets made via something like Netflix these days. (In fact, you can watch Triple Frontier on Netflix right now as you’re reading this.) And that’s why Chandor hopes Spielberg, who Chandor respects immensely, will change his mind.
I haven’t talked to you in five years, since A Most Violent Year.
I’ve been off in the hinterland so…
Where is the hinterland for you?
I mean, it was one of those things, I live far up in Westchester, so way outside of New York City, and I’ve got young, young kids. Or had young, young kids. They’re not young, young anymore. And I did three movies in four years, basically. Write, direct, and promote. I’d been as good of a father as I could have been and I needed to secure our future so that we could lock it in. I basically signed on right to go onto Deepwater Horizon, so it would have been four movies in five years. And then when that blew up, I realized, “You know what? This is a sign. I should just chill out here for a year.”
I remember the last time we spoke that story had just come out. It was the week you were doing promotion for A Most Violent Year.
I mean, that was a nightmare. It was a total nightmare. Because I really believed in that movie. You know, the good thing is Pete [Berg] actually got to make sort of a version [of what Chandor was going to make]. I never saw it, but I know the script they used was the version that I kind of quit slash got fired over. And then it was one of those things where, once you leave the room, everyone’s sort of like, “Wow, he felt really strongly about that. Maybe he had a point.” You know? And so they kind of got to make the version that, frankly, I wouldn’t have gotten to make.
The saddest part of that was really at the end, which was the line in the sand that I drew. Which is I did not want to combine real people, who had done real things. So that you were essentially assigning blame to someone that had nothing to do with that particular issue.
So basically condensing the number of characters?
Yeah. I was like, “Leave it to me, guys. I can figure out the dramatic pause of it all. I’ll make it tense.”