Interview with The Voices director Marjane Satrapi

After having watched The Voices I had the pleasure of interviewing the woman behind the scenes. A report of that conversation:

Jade: Seeing as you wrote your previous directorial works yourself, what makes a script great for you, in this case: is there anything specifically that convinced you to direct The Voices? Did you have any doubts about taking on the project?

Marjane: When reading a story one has to imagine the script. If I cannot imagine it straight away something is wrong. With The Voices images came to me immediately. I started to wonder have I ever seen a movie like this, from this perspective. And actually no, I hadn’t. So the script was original and that is very important.

J: Talking about images coming to you, I was impressed with the locations like the abandoned Bowling Alley and the factory. Were there certain scenes or locations you immediately envisioned whilst reading the script?

M: Yes, actually I did. You know you have to imagine rural America and in the middle of America everything is not really high-tech, it is not technologically advanced. In fact, it is old fashioned. You know the buses and trains they use in America, here in Europe those would never be used any more. And then like factories in the middle of America are also very old-fashioned and that’s what we needed for this movie. So we copied that look, because we shot it all in Berlin and kind of recreated this feeling there, while also taking into account the funds as those are not unlimited. You mention the Bowling Alley and that also was something we thought about carefully, because if it was abandoned it hadn’t been used since at least the early 90s probably, so we had to make sure that it looked as if it was build way before that.

J: Films evolve through the creative process – sometimes most dramatically in the editing process. It’s often really hard to reconcile the difference between what we desired and what we achieved. Have you encountered this during the creation of The Voices and if so, how did you move through it?

M: Oh my god! Yes, yes! You know, really you write a movie three times, first you write the script, then shoot the film, and then you rewrite in the editing process. For me the biggest struggle was getting the memories in. Nowadays movies are often too long and too fast. Lots of action and they are often 2,5 hours long. A movie has to be the length of the time a person can go without having to pee. It was really challenging to get some memories in but not make the movie be too long. Because we need a basis to understand the character and gain empathy. Personally I need the time to understand a movie, but the editors said that information was given already. But in the end I am happy with the result.

J: You are talking about empathy. I was amazed that while watching this movie I could gain so much empathy for a person who is in essence a serial killer.

M: Yes, and I think Ryan Reynolds did a great job in that. Jerry is just someone who wants to be accepted in the end.

J: Was working with an internationally well-known cast different from your earlier directorial work? If so, how?

M: Of course when making a movie you want the best team possible. And only if that’s not possible you move to the second best, that’s how it is. In this case I wanted the best, and they wanted to work with me. I wanted a dream cast and that is what I got, because they were convinced immediately. I guess I am just likeable. I am blessed to have been able to work with them.

J: I didn’t expect Ryan Reynolds in a role like this and yet he does an amazing job at it.

M: I came into the project and they told me that Ryan Reynolds was interested in joining. Even though Ryan Reynolds is not the first that comes to mind for this role, the moment I met him in New York I knew he was the right guy. We shared the same vision for the project. And that is really important, because if you have a different vision there’s no way to work together. He was just perfect in every aspect, he is talented as we can see in works like Buried and Safe House but he also had the perfect look. With his kind of creepy, deep eyes yet juvenile boyish look and smile he fit the character. He can look creepy and friendly at the same time and that was really important.

J: After turning your own graphic novels into movies, and now the step towards directing English movies but stepping away from writing. Where does your passion lie most, within writing or within directing or does one fuel the other?

M: Directing is what I prefer in life, without a doubt. I love that. I love writing too, but when you write it you are sometimes too close to it. I can adopt someone else’s script completely, and imagine it completely. I mean who comes up with the idea of a factory worker who has a talking dog and a talking cat that make him kill people, who thinks like that! When they give the script to me it becomes really mine and I like to imagine the stories and see the images before me. Whereas with my own writings I already start biased and perhaps cannot imagine them the way I do with someone else’s writings.

February 5th, 2015
  • Leave a Reply