Berlin: 'Midnight Special' Director Reveals Movie's Traumatic Inspiration

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Jeff Nichols

"I rushed him to the hospital, and I was afraid he was dying," Jeff Nichols told a festival news conference of how his 1-year-old child's febrile seizure sparked the idea for the sci-fi thriller.

The Warner Bros. sci-fi flick Midnight Special, about a father on the run with his 8-year-old son after discovering his child has special powers, was inspired by Jeff Nichols true-life crisis of his child's illness, the director revealed Friday.

Nichols recalled during a press conference at the Berlin Film Festival that his own 1-year-old son faced a sudden febrile seizure that left him in shock.

"It was a very scary moment for my wife and I. I rushed him to the hospital, and I was afraid he was dying," the director recounted.

Fortunately, Nichols' young boy recovered to full health. "But it made me realize in this moment that anything could happen to him and I would have no control over that," he added.

And the idea for Midnight Special then appeared, as the Mud and Cannes-winning Take Shelter director set about processing his new-dad fears. "I think the reason we love our children so much is because of this fear," Nichols told the festival presser.

Midnight Special, which stars Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, Jaedan Lieberher and Sam Shepard, is having its world premiere in Berlin after Warner Bros. pushed the release to March 18. But don't expect Nichols' true-life inspiration for Midnight Special to show up in the film.

The director said his latest movie deliberately removes as much exposition by characters onscreen "to the point of possibly endangering the story itself. ... Some people out there will agree with it [the experiment] and some people won't."

Starting with 2007's Shotgun Stories, each of the Arkansas native's films have been shot in the U.S. south, with Midnight Special shot in New Orleans. Nichols' friend Shannon was also featured in Mud and Take Shelter.

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