These days, Christopher Nolan is known for his big-budget, tentpole spectacles. “The Dark Knight” trilogy. “Inception.” “Interstellar.” But we can’t forget the director’s much smaller, more indie pedigree. While Nolan’s first film, “Following” didn’t do much business at all, it put him on the map, and he seized the opportunity with “Memento.”
Told “backwards,” the film stars Guy Pearce as Leonard, a man with no short-term memory on a quest to find his wife’s murderer. To keep track of the clues he unearths, he tattoos vital information on his body. The film bucked convention, jumping chronologically, alternating black and white with color, and depicting many scenes in reverse, so that audiences saw the end first, and then watched events unfold that led there. If you’re a fan of the film, this Sundance Channel “Anatomy Of A Scene” documentary on the making of the movie is worth a watch.
One of the more interesting segments of the talk revolves around casting the film. As Nolan points out in the behind the scenes featurette, “on the page, the character (of Leonard) is quite ambiguous in terms of a lot of things. He doesn’t know how long it’s been since the incident, so you don’t quite know how old he is, what’s happened to him in the intervening years.” The script, then, didn’t offer much guidance for finding the leading man. So how did they land on the chameleonic Pearce?
More curiously, how did “Memento’ reunite costars Joe Pantoliano and Carrie-Anne Moss just a year after they appeared in “The Matrix” together? Turns out it was Moss’ idea. She was cast first and suggested Pantoliano for the role of Teddy, but the story didn’t end there. Nolan wasn’t actually keen on the idea of casting Pantoliano. Why not? He was afraid audiences would too readily associate the actor, who betrayed Neo and Morpheus, as a bad guy.
Watch the full short below for other little-known facts about Nolan’s second feature, and more on the making of the director’s sophomore effort. [via Eyes On Cinema]