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Interview: Writer & Director Steven Knight On 'Locke,' Tom Hardy & Future Projects Including 'Eastern Promises 2'

Photo of Jessica Kiang By Jessica Kiang | The Playlist February 3, 2014 at 3:25PM

One of the chief pleasures of the Göteborg International Film Festival, aside from the charming Swedishness of it all (particularly fond of the helper whose novel take on the “switch off your f*cking phone” message was to implore us not to forget to turn our phones “back on, the second you leave”), is the quality time we get to spend with our interview subjects. One of or most enjoyable meetings this time out was with screenwriter Steven Knight, whose fascinating sophomore directorial outing “Locke,” (our review from Venice is here) played the festival. Here are the fruits of our wide-ranging conversation with the “Eastern Promises,” “Dirty Pretty Things” and “Peaky Blinders” writer (who also—random trivia—devised and originally pitched “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”), including his thoughts on writing for TV vs. film, his crowded upcoming slate and lots about “Locke” we should probably give a little background.
Rebecca Steven Knight

And you’re also writing a remake of “Rebecca.” How do you tackle a property that casts such a long shadow?
That's written, actually. You know, you just have to think so what, it's a great story, and I went back to the Du Maurier book,and rediscovered how wonderful she is. She was such an interesting person it's a wonder nobody has made the story of her life. In her letters she described lesbian experiences as "a trip to Venice" and heterosexual experiences as "a trip to Cairo." And “Rebecca” is a really modern book about women. But remaking a Hitchcock/Olivier film? You have to think “Ah, so what?”

And are you altering it, updating the setting or anything?
No, no it’s set back in the same period.

Eastern Promises

And for the one that’s closest to my heart, the much-mooted but seemingly not hugely active “Eastern Promises 2”?
Oh, I know, I'm trying, it's written. And it works, so watch this space.

And is it possible that it would be Cronenberg again, or will it go to somebody else?
We don't know yet, but I can say the script for the second one is much better that the first. Honestly it's one of the things I've written that I most like and it's driving me mad... so I've got to get it made.

Would you consider directing it yourself?
Hmm. Trucks, a lot of trucks.

Heh, OK, too many trucks. So do you have another directing project lined up that might not be so truck-heavy?
I'm possibly doing something else with Tom [Hardy] at the end of the year, there's a few thoughts I've had, which again will be different ways of doing something. And one in particular which I think could be really good which I’m going to start writing soon. But I have other things like... it seems ridiculous but what else have I got on?

"Remaking a Hitchcock/Olivier film? You have to think 'Ah, so what?' "

There’s an RFK project?
That's in the pipeline. The thing is that whenever I like something I go, “Yeah yeah! I’ll do it!” and then they’re like “Great, we’ll wait!” and it’s a bit “Fuck…“

That you have to then actually do it?
Well, I like doing it, when I have the time. It takes forever but I love the process of writing, I can't stop writing, it's something I would do anyway.

And finally, I think you were at one stage attached the adaptation of Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol”?
Well Dan took that back and worked on it himself but I did a draft. That was the good old Hollywood system of, "come in, write a draft, and someone rewrites that." I just think that's that job and then there's the other job of doing smaller scale things you're in control of, but Hollywood is great. Good people, unionized, you get paid. I find in Britain people are both more arty and more willing to rip you off.

With all this work on, do you ever get to see any films?
No, not really. And I used to say... it didn't use to be deliberate but now it is. I just don't like cinemas very much. And when I do see a film it depresses me.

Because it’s bad or good?
Good! I always think "this is really good" and it depresses me, I see something work so simply and I think “Why can't I do that?”

"Locke" will be released stateside on April 25th.

This article is related to: Göteborg International Film Festival, Interviews, Interview, Steven Knight, Locke, Tom Hardy, Redemption, Hummingbird, Eastern Promises 2, Rebecca, November Criminals, Chef

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