'Closed Circuit's' Surveillance Issues More Relevant in Light of NSA Scandal, Stars Say
Focus Features CEO James Schamus also talks about casting "Fifty Shades of Grey."
Secrets were the theme of the evening at Monday's screening of Focus Features' Closed Circuit at the Tribeca Grand hotel in Manhattan.
The legal thriller, which centers around the trial of a suspected terrorist in London and deals with issues of government secrets and surveillance, may be especially relevant to U.S. audiences in light of recent revelations about the NSA.
But the film, starring Eric Bana and The Town's Rebecca Hall, initially grew out of a change in British law in which a defendant could have two lawyers who were forbidden to speak to each other -- something screenwriter Steven Knight thought seemed ripe for drama, if the two attorneys were having an affair, like Bana and Hall's characters in the film.
Similarly, director John Crowley was just looking for a smart, adult, contemporary thriller to direct, and a legal drama set in London felt even more fresh.
But since filming wrapped, the movie's issues related to what the government is doing to protect security, which may involving veering across legal and ethical lines, have become hot topics.
"I think [these issues have] been relevant since 9/11, but I think the NSA, the Edward Snowden situation, has thrown it into such relief," Crowley told The Hollywood Reporter. "It's such a clear story that one, and the scale of it seems inconceivably large, and also, it feels like it's sort of confirming what everyone suspects is going on and the fact that he's actually given evidence of it and that reaction to it has been quite draconian is fascinating. I think this is a real debate that's going to rage for awhile."
Crowley hopes current events won't "burden" the film, which was merely "conceived as a first-rate adult thriller," he said. But co-star Bana hopes real-life events will help their fictional tale.
"The events over the past 12 months have definitely made the film a lot more relevant and hopefully that's a benefit for us," the actor told THR.
Similarly, Hall feels the film fits in nicely with current topics of debate.
"I think the film, in a fictional way that's very close to how we live now, deals with the tension for what we need for civil liberties and what we demand to stay in a secure state," she said. "And this is something that we're all talking about now in light of surveillance and Snowden and all of the rest of it."
But more secrets were left unrevealed when we asked Hall, Bana and Focus Features CEO James Schamus for details on their hot upcoming projects. Hall said she could tell us "nothing" about her upcoming film Transcendence, with Johnny Depp. And although Bana characterized Lone Survivor as an "interesting piece of work," he hasn't yet seen the finished project.
As for Schamus, he seems to be relishing Focus' involvement in one of the most hotly-anticipated and secretive films of the moment, the movie adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey. Well aware of the intense interest in who's going to be cast in the lead roles, Schamus teased us by saying "And I can actually tell you who we've cast …" before breaking into a smile and saying, "No … sorry."
Indeed, when asked what timetable Focus and Universal had for casting the leads, all he would reveal is that they need to have someone cast in time for them to finish post-production before the scheduled Aug.1, 2014 release date.
Schamus did shoot down rumors that the title might get a dual release on-demand and in theaters, something Universal has long wanted to try, saying "Probably in an alternate universe somewhere that would be considered, but no. The film we're making with Samantha Taylor-Johnson, it's a movie. Big-screen."
Or was he merely covering up another secret? Only time will tell.
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