Last year’s Tom Cruise actioner “Jack Reacher” held a trifecta of curious elements: The controversial casting of its star, Werner Herzog‘s brief villainous turn, and, most importantly, the return of Christopher McQuarrie to the director’s chair. After helming “The Way Of The Gun” in 2000, McQuarrie shunned the spotlight to serve as script doctor to Hollywood’s elite, but after his latest film experience, he’s re-emerged to comment on his career in his typically candid manner.
In an extensive interview with Empire promoting the “Jack Reacher” DVD release, McQuarrie spoke on a wide variety of topics, from Oren Peli‘s creative freedom with “Paranormal Activity,” to contrasting it with struggles to get his unproduced screenplays “Booth” and “The Last Mission” made in the Hollywood system (both are movies “I have to ask permission” to make). Indeed, the industry has been a mixed blessing for the director — McQuarrie learned while making “Valkyrie” with Cruise that he’d alienated himself from the business, citing “holding grudges” as a main reason.
“People are gonna fuck me in this business,” he said. “There’s no two ways about it. And the first thing you have to realize is that they’re very rarely doing it because it’s personal… They probably don’t even know that they did anything wrong to you. People will screw you over and, next day, if they need you, they’ll pick up the phone and call you and you’re best friends.”
He also pointed to his attempts to elbow his own directorial perspective in on mainstream studio material, a losing battle that led McQuarrie to a realization: “I stopped being a person who looked at them as if they were people who were not giving me a chance, and started looking at them as people who were terribly lost and desperately in need of help. And I had a certain set of skills that could be used for that.”
With the first two “X-Men” films, “Valkyrie,” and now the upcoming “All You Need is Kill” under his screenwriting belt, McQuarrie has obviously utilized those talents well, but when it comes to regrets, it seems the most prominent comes with his start: “The Way of the Gun.” “It’s the movie I wish I could do over again,” he explained. “I wish I could take that basic concept and make that as a film again with everything that I’ve learned… If only because it was the last truly original idea that I worked with.”
He continues, “ ‘The Way of the Gun’ I wrote in five days. It didn’t change very much. But I shot it in a very stark way and didn’t leave myself room to manipulate. I would never shoot a movie like that again. I would shoot for that: I like masters and I like when a scene plays out. But you have to be able to control the rhythm and the tempo of the movie.”
While a bit rough around the edges, the Ryan Phillippe/Benicio del Toro cult crime drama is still a witty, fun time from McQuarrie, and one can see why he’s yearning for that type of material again. Hopefully it won’t be too long before that happens, but in the meantime, head over the interview to read his thoughts on much more.