If there is one thing that has continually distinguished Universal Pictures it is its monster legacy, a genre of films the studio has done since its beginnings with classics featuring Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy and The Invisible Man. The latter is the latest to attempt a reboot as Universal continues efforts to revive its prized franchises, albeit with mixed results in recent years. But with this critically acclaimed effort, it has succeeded beyond all expectations.
Director-writer Leigh Whannell explains just how when he joined his star Elisabeth Moss in conversation during Universal’s panel at Deadline’s Contenders Film award-season presentation.
“The trick was not to think about that legacy,” he says. “With this I felt a bit more freedom because the original is a much older film shot in black and white and only with effects available at that time. I felt that if I approached this as the first version that ever existed it would be easier.”
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For Moss, who has never done a role with this kind of demanding physicality, it was an entirely new experience. “The physical part was difficult,” she says about a plot that required the abused girlfriend of a man who has found a way to make himself unseen and who must fight that which is invisible to her. “But most challenging was just the level of fear that I had to keep reaching for and keep pushing. I am used to doing things very small, and this required a different muscle.”
To get that level of fear Moss said she just kept thinking about another star turn. “I kept thinking I should be like Sandy Bullock in Bird Box,” she says, laughing. “ So Leigh just kept reminding me, ‘Sandy Bullock! Sandy Bullock!’ ”
Whannell also considered the camera itself to be another character, and he consulted his cinematographer Stefan Duscio even as he was still writing the script about ways to move the camera around as if it had its own mind. “I really think of this as a chamber piece and a collaboration between Stefan and I, and Elisabeth and I as a group effort,” he says.
Check back for the panel video.
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