George Nolfi's "The Adjustment Bureau" hits today, a very loose adaptation of a Philip K. Dick short story. In the film, Matt Damon plays a politician who learns that there are forces conspiring to keep him on a political path distinctly severing his relationship with a beautiful dancer played by Emily Blunt; forces that aren't to be reckoned with and can erase his life entirely if he doesn't play ball.
We've already reviewed the movie, but earlier, we sat down with Matt Damon, Emily Blunt and director George Nolfi to discuss the making of the film, how it differs from Dick's original story and the collaborative process of "The Adjustment Bureau" and this is what we learned.
"This is the least Philip K. Dick of Philip K. Dick adaptations."
So says Matt Damon, describing the source material. "This story is really only seven or eight pages long. The idea from ‘The Adjustment Team’ is basically what George took form it. He invented this whole love story. This is the least Philip K. Dick of the Philip K. Dick adaptations.”
For once, action hero Matt Damon can take a knee this time.
“It’s nice to be in one of those movies when I’m not training my ass off. I was sitting in the corner, eating donuts," says People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive.
Oscar nominee Shoreh Agadashloo was cut from the film (we think).
Just our theory, of course. But much of the film is spent discussing The Chairman, the ostensible head of the adjustment bureau. We are told the character takes many shapes and forms, though The Chairman never shows up in "The Adjustment Bureau."
Says director George Nolfi, "Initially I was going to show the chairman at the end and have the chairman be in female form. I wanted that to be a surprise. I shot the scene, and I was worried because it’s complex territory. But I cut it together and showed it to people, and some people liked it, but enough people were really bothered that I had showed the character in such detail. It didn't work." We asked Nolfi as to who played this role, and he was tight-lipped, but the cast list originally included Agadashloo, a captivating presence from films like "House of Sand And Fog" and "X-Men: The Last Stand," so it certainly makes sense. However, her name does not appear in the final credits for the film.
"The Adjustment Bureau" is not "The Matrix."
Both Matt Damon and Emily Blunt often struggled with what would be the appropriate tone for the film. “That was the tricky part for me," says Ms. Blunt. "I had those questions of tonality, you know, what the movie was, what are we doing. George encouraged us to submarine everything and just be naturalistic. The adjustment bureau are not that ‘Matrix’-esque flying around on wires types. They are pretty accessible sci-fi characters. They wear hats and they go through doors. It should really require any declamatory performance."
Damon himself seemed unconvinced the film didn't share DNA from a number of different films. "That was my question to George. Is it dark? Is it ‘Heaven Can Wait’? And he said, No no no no no, it’s not ‘Heaven Can Wait.’ Is it ‘The Matrix’? No, it’s not ‘The Matrix’ Wait, what the fuck is it?
There are still a lot of "Team America" fans out there.
"The Adjustment Bureau" uses a lot of real New York City locations, which was exciting for the cast and crew, but also brought a level of difficulty given the familiarity of certain cast members. “It was so exciting to be able to shoot at the Statue of Liberty," says Ms. Blunt. "But the downfall of that is that you have 400 random strangers watching you do a very emotional scene, which is very embarrassing."
Agrees Mr. Damon, "Yeah, we did that scene at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. And obviously you can’t shut down the Statue of Liberty. So there are like 400 people going to see the statue, and they’re like, oh hey, a movie’s being filmed."
Blunt added, "This one time, we managed to get it together, it was such a hard day, and then some dickhead screams
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck still consult each other on their respective work.
While we're hesitant to credit Damon on contributing to the Oscar-nominated "The Town," we do acknowledge that there's a possibility he brought a lot of perspective to Ben Affleck's directorial effort. “If I have a cut of a movie I’m in, I show my wife, my friends, I show Ben," says Damon. "I saw probably six different versions of ‘The Town’ as he was working on it, I read the script. It’s always good to have another set of eyes on something."
"Our deal was always, on a movie set you see a lot of time wasted on diplomacy, because you don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. With that relationship, it’s completely understood that there’s respect for the other person. So I can say, yeah, that’s a terrible fucking idea. There are times when you’re writing and you excited and your writing partner goes, that’s terrible. And you can abandon it right away. The quicker you can cut to chase is better. The alliegance is just to the idea. What I’ve noticed with all the great directors is that they’re open to the ideas of all those people around them. Ultimately directors are dictators, the arbiter of taste, so why not listen to every idea?"
"The Adjustment Bureau" is now in theaters.