If you haven’t seen “10 Cloverfield Lane,” you’re missing out on a pretty nifty contained thriller that, while a sideways companion to “Cloverfield,” is really a movie all its own. And it’s an entertaining one at that, a brisk genre piece that has a go for broke third act you can’t help but admire. However, the project all started from a spec script called “The Cellar” by Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken. Once in the offices of Bad Robot, producer J.J. Abrams got the brainwave to connect it to the “Cloverfield” universe, and Damien Chazelle, pre-“Whiplash,” came in and rewrote the screenplay into the movie we know now. And as a matter of fact, he almost got behind the camera too.
READ MORE: Review: ‘10 Cloverfield Lane’ Starring John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, And John Gallagher Jr.
“Damien was originally going to direct it as well, and then ‘Whiplash’ came up, so I have so many things to thank him for. He made an awesome movie that I love, and because he went and made that awesome movie, I got a chance to make a movie, and he did a great job with the script. He really gifted me with so many things,” “10 Cloverfield Lane” director Dan Trachtenberg
recently revealed on The Q&A Podcast
“I actually never even read that original draft. I only know of it from when we were auditioning, some actors would come in to read for parts, and their agents, thinking they were being savvy, would slip them the actual script, as opposed to our sides, and the characters were completely different,” he added. “The Emmett character was the bad guy in that version of the script, so [the actors auditioning] were all a mess, it was a real shame. But Damien came in and gave it the ending that it has and a lot of the character dynamics are all [his].”
READ MORE: Interview: ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ Director Dan Trachtenberg On That Title, Hitchcock’s ’Notorious,’ And Video Game Influences
As for the finished film, it’s hard to imagine there’s anything left on the cutting room floor, given how tight the story and pacing turned out. But Trachtenberg reveals there are a couple moments that got snipped, including one big action beat during the climax, before she decides to head to Texas.
“There’s really only one in the body of the movie, where in the montage of them gathering supplies, there was one bit where they’re getting stuff in the hallway, and the shelving unit tips over. It was setting up that she could toss that shelving unit on Howard in the end… it was not necessary,” the director said. “And in the end of the movie, the biggie is — which hopefully we can finish for the Blu-ray or something — after she drives off, she smashes into the creature, and the creature is on the hood of the car, and bursts through her dash, and sends its teeth tentacles [into the car] strangling her, and then she turns and kills it by driving it into the fire of the downed spaceship.”
Sounds like an intense moment, but Trachtenberg explains why it didn’t make the grade. “We did one test screening for the movie, and they felt like, [the audience] was exhausted [and] it was too cheesy, and a very horror movie thing to do. It was just too much, and we had been through enough, and it was fine. It allowed us to save on effects, and finish all the shots that we really needed to finish,” he said, though he’s hoping to finish the scene for home video.
READ MORE: Podcast: Adjust Your Tracking Talks ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ And ‘Creative Control’
Meanwhile, if you stuck around for the credits, you likely noticed Bradley Cooper‘s name in there for the role of Ben, the voice of Michelle’s fiancé on the phone at the beginning of the movie. And you can thank the power of J.J. Abrams and his relationship to the actor forged on “Alias” for that.
“For a while it while it was just my editor [as a place holder voice], and we were getting nearer and nearer the release, and a lot of people in the office would swing by and see if [their voice] would work. And then eventually J.J. was like, ‘I wonder if Bradley would want to do this?’ And we’re like, ‘Who’s Bradley?’ ‘I was thinking Bradley Cooper,’ and we’re like, ’Yeah, go ahead!’ And he was totally down to help us out,” Trachtenberg said.
With a strong opening bow and showing some decent legs, “10 Cloverfield Lane” is a success and as for more adventures in that world? Maybe. “We definitely — even before we shot — would fantasize about what the next [movie] would be for sure. It would definitely follow in that Ripley/Sarah Connor model, but who knows,” the director said cautiously.
Thoughts? Do you need to see an “11 Cloverfield Lane” about Michelle’s adventures fighting aliens in Texas, or is this film enough? Let us know in the comments section. Listen to the full talk with Trachtenberg below.