Oscar winning screenwriter and director, Stefan Ruzowitzky‘s latest film, the action thriller, Deadfall is all set for home release in the UK next week. Penned by Zach Dean, the film features an all star cast headed up by the likes of Eric Bana, Olivia Wilde, Charlie Hunnam, Kris Kristofferson, Sissy Spacek and Kate Mara.
Deadfall follows a brother and sister on the run after having botched a casino heist. Following a major car accident they are left stranded out in the cold with nowhere to run. With the only option to split up and fend for themselves, everything culminates at an unlikely reunion at a small town family’s Thanksgiving celebration.
Speaking with Stefan in celebration of the release he told us all about his partiality to dominant female players and his hatred of witless action flicks…
So how did you make the jump to directing in the US? Were you contacted to direct a script or did you try and reach out yourself, eager to film something over in the United States?
Basically it was my own personal challenge to try my hand at something different. I truly love the content of commercial cinema and pop culture because in Austria and Germany it is just so limited due to the current lack of government subsidies that enable us to actually make the movies we would like to see get made.
Coming to the film in question, did you actually receive many script offers before you went with Deadfall?
Oh yes, I got so many scripts but you learn pretty quickly that most of them will never come to fruition. This is mainly down to the fact that they just wouldn’t get the stars that are needed to get the backing money required. As a result it is a seriously tricky process to find just the right project. I came across a lot of really interesting things but, unfortunately for those scripts, it was pretty easy to guess early on that they would come to nothing.
So eventually you opted for the script penned by virtual newcomer Zach Dean. What was it about this script that pulled you in?
What I liked about the project from the start was its combination of a no-nonsense thriller, chase sequences, violent blood but at the same time it had the most interesting characters, particularly all these dysfunctional families. That is exactly what I like to see when I go to see a film myself. I can’t stand all these brainless action movies. I much prefer movies that combined drama and genre.
Talking of dysfunctional families, many of the characters have a lot of chemistry going on between them. This is particularly the case of the brother/sister relationship between Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde. It must tricky, to say the least, when trying to get all these sentiments across to the audience.
Oh absolutely! We discussed everything and, as much as I am aware, both Olivia and Eric had different ideas about, for example, if these two characters really did have an incestuous relationship. In the end we decided that it would probably work better if we left a bit of ambiguity in there. It certainly brings additional tension if there are different concepts at play.
As the film is all about these relationships, the film was first going to be called Kin rather than Deadfall. I hear you weren’t altogether happy with the name change.
Well I mean the whole film is all about family. Charlie Hunnam’s character is trying to reconcile with his family and then there’s the brother/sister part of the story and also Kate Mara plays a young police officer fighting to gain her father’s favour. I really liked this whole concept so I was a bit unhappy with the name change but this is just another example of how little a director has to say once a movie is completed.
Although it is predominantly an action movie, it is clear that the leading ladies in the film are proudly wearing the trousers. You certainly seem to have a bit of a soft spot when it comes to dominant women in your films.
Well yes, I mean in Deadfall all the men are fighting, killing and getting killed but it is certainly the women who make all the important and astute decisions in the end. Sissy Spacek’s character is certainly the dominant character in her relationship. I’ve always loved dominant women in my films so this was something I really wanted to preserve here.
Whilst the ladies play dominant roles, even though Eric Bana’s character is a psycho killer, he has probably the most tender moments in the film. That’s something that must have been really difficult to find the right balance for too.
Well of course we have to give most of the credit to Eric there for striking the perfect balance to be this really bad-ass, violent guy who is just as fascinating and people love him and are able to laugh with him. People watching the film just can’t wait to see what he does next, even if that means he kills even more cops.
Finally, Deadfall is certainly one of those films that leaves everything up in the air. Whilst I’m a bit on the fence when it comes to those your ending certainly leaves you chomping on the film for a long time afterwards, which is always a good thing. Having said that, I have heard that you did have an alternate ending in the works. What happened with that?
Yes we did have a couple of extra minutes filmed that basically tied up a lot of details but we decided against using them as we just felt they were redundant to the film’s plot. At the end of the day no one really cares how Charlie Hunnam’s legal problems pan out so we did away with that. Basically, the film would have ended with everyone hugging and that was stuff that we really wanted to steer well clear from.
We’d like to thank Stefan and remind you that you can get your hands on a copy of Deadfall in the UK on Monday, October 7th which features exclusive featurette videos and interviews.
We’ll leave you with a trailer to entice you into heading down to your retailer this Monday:
You can also read our review of the film over here.