Movie PictureIt's a role many people find harder than expected - acting as a ghost. When a brutal beating on Nick Powell left him for dead, his only hope to find the people who did the crime is through Annie, one of his former classmates.
David Goyer directs The Invisible; Justin Chatwin stars as Nick, with newcomer Margarita Levieva as Annie.
Movieweb.com was lucky enough to be invited to Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California to talk to David about his newest film. We were also taken into the editing room and shown some scenes from The Invisible.
The first thing we saw was the opening scene in the movie - a one shot that spanned about three minutes. Nick's mother, Marcia Gay Harden, is giving him a graduation speech during a family party; but it's not where he wants to be. Nick leaves the table, walks by his cake, and cuts the eyes out of the picture of him on that cake. Nick then walks down to his basement, pulls a shotgun from the rack - and wakes up. It was all a dream; that's when Nick realizes he needs to change his life.
Movie PictureDavid told us how hard that scene was to shoot. "The shot lasts about three minutes long, and it took us a whole day to do; we did about seven takes - we got it right three times. Basically what happens is we had, he's at the party and we have a pulley system - and I thought because it's a dream, it'd be interesting, it's basically my DP (Gabriel Beristain) and I thought, 'Let's see if we can pull this off.' But I thought it would be kind of ethereal and give a sense of the dream, and so we had the cameraman in a kind of gondola on a pulley system, over the house; he was on the stedicam and he was, when we're drifting in towards that party, he's being pulled. He reaches a point and he steps off, and he gets off and moves around the table as Marcia Gay Harden is talking, and then he's just regular stedicam; and then he's pulling back as Nick comes back, and goes around the cake. And then what he did was backed into the bucket of a crane, and we were on the outside because we picked a house with all glass, and so as Nick goes down those stairs, the crane lowers him, and he steps out and he follows him again."
He also showed us a few more clips that really defined what the movie was about. When Nick is beaten, his spirit lives on; and it's up to Annie to help him. Throughout the film, Justin appears as a life-like ghost; he can see others, but no one can see him.
David describes the film as 'a total teen melodrama.' The Invisible is really different than the other films David has been a part of; from the Blade series to Batman Begins, he's always chosen the comic genre route. Even though this movie is dark, he wanted to go in a new direction. "To be honest what happened was I think my agent might have talked to the Spyglass guys and said, 'Goyer for Invisible.' In fact, Jon Glickman, who is one of the producers, I remember originally called and said, 'I heard this crazy call that you'd be interested in this and I can't believe you could possibly be interested in this because it's like a melodrama.' And I said, 'No, I love that movie; I would do it.' We set up this meeting and they thought I was putting them on or doing a bait and switch and I said, 'No I really, really like the Swedish film.'"
Movie PictureThe casting of The Invisible is really the key to the film; finding Justin and Margarita was a true gift. "Well the good news is Spyglass and Disney just wanted the best actors, and frankly there aren't a lot of young people, young actors that drive sales anyway. There's a few, but there aren't a lot and everyone realized that this project was going to live and die on the performance and kind of the integrity of what it was about. Based on what you've seen, you can like it or not like it, but it's definitely not your standard studio programmer. It's kind of more morally complicated than that; it's got to live and die on these performances and so everyone was cool with just finding the best actors - it was nice."
David says he found the chemistry in the audition process for both actors. "For the audition process, we just did a couple of different scenes; there's a couple of big crowd scenes in the film where he's interacting and not interacting with hundreds of people. There's this one scene where he follows Annie into a club; there's hundreds of people there who are just bumping into him. I said to all of the extras, 'He doesn't exist; spill your drinks on him.' We had to do this all night and he got knocked down a couple of times. He doesn't exist and it's lonely and hard, but he did a really good job."
From the footage we were shown, Justin proves how valuable a commodity he's going to become in Hollywood. "He had to do an incredibly difficult thing is this movie because for most of the movie, nobody can acknowledge him," David notes. "He can't play off anyone, they just brush past him; that's really hard for any actor much less a kind of young actor that's just starting out. There's no question he had a hard time; he practically had a nervous breakdown a couple of times. It was great because he really wanted the part and I said, 'This is going to be really hard and you know that right?' He said, 'Yeah I'm up for it.' He was great."
As far as Margarita, she's a relative unknown, only just starting to appear on Fox's Vanished (before it was cancelled). "She's very hardcore; I genuinely believe she's going to be a big star," David says of his female lead. "This performance reminded me a little like Angelina Jolie in Gia; she's just an amazing actress. She just came in on a cold audition; she was a complete unknown, she's never been cast in anything before. We were seeing every young actress in Hollywood - I mean everyone; she came in and just blew everyone away."
David hides Annie most of the film with a black cap; we really don't get to know who she is until she is ready to come out. "The first time you meet her, she's got this cap and she's got her hair all pulled up and we sort of progressively open her up and she's got this crazy lion's mane head of hair."
What really stands out in The Invisible is the music - nothing too familiar to American audiences, but just good hearty rock music; in that opening scene, an Oceansize song plays in the background. Snow Patrol has two songs, Sparta has another; it's a great mix of tunes.
Just before we spoke to him, David was wrapping up a music video for the film with Snow Patrol. "I didn't want to do the traditional inter cut, the cliché 'band, cut to movie footage. So I got Margarita and Justin to shoot in the video, and I got Justin to also lip sync the song with Gary, the lead singer of the band. So that whole set, we rebuilt that whole set, they're singing - it was fun."
Movie PictureThe Invisible is more than just a teen drama, it's got depth. David pointed out this film is as much Nick's story as it is Annie's story. "It starts off as Nick's story and then becomes Annie's story for the second half of the film, which I love. It's very subtle, and one of the things I love when people see the whole film is that they didn't expect to be taken to the place where it ends; they didn't expect to feel the things they do at the end of the movie. This movie sort of changes genres; it starts off this supernatural thriller and sort of becomes in the end quite a love story, but it never really requited. But that's one of the reasons why I was drawn to it; I have to credit Disney for making it and for backing all of the creative decisions."
There are some good twists and turns in The Invisible - most are too good to even tell you. Just know you're in for a good ride.
The Invisible opens in theaters April 13th; it's rated PG-13.