The longtime rivalry between brilliant and eccentric inventors Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison remains one of history’s fiercest, with their developments of AC and DC currents, respectively, sparking a bitter feud that rocked the late 19th century. Their complex head-to-head is now the subject of director Michael Almereyda’s latest film “Tesla,” which stars Ethan Hawke in the title role opposite Kyle MacLachlan as Edison. The film also unpacks other wild aspects of Tesla’s life, both personal and professional. Ahead of the film’s release from IFC on August 21, and in celebration of Tesla’s 164th birthday on July 10, a new trailer for the film has dropped. Check it out below.
Written by Almereyda, who won the Alfred P. Sloan Prize for the film at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, “Tesla” also stars Eve Hewson, Jim Gaffigan, Hannah Gross, Josh Hamilton, and Ebon Moss-Bachrach. Here’s the official synopsis: “Brilliant, visionary Nikola Tesla (Hawke) fights an uphill battle to bring his revolutionary electrical system to fruition, then faces thornier challenges with his new system for worldwide wireless energy.”
“The film tracks Tesla’s uneasy interactions with his fellow inventor Thomas Edison (MacLachlan) and his patron George Westinghouse (Gaffigan),” the synopsis continues. “Another thread traces Tesla’s sidewinding courtship of financial titan J.P. Morgan (Donnie Keshawarz), whose daughter Anne (Hewson) takes a more than casual interest in the inventor. Anne analyzes and presents the story as it unfolds, offering a modern voice to this scientific period drama which, like its subject, defies convention.”
Out of the Sundance Film Festival, IndieWire’s David Ehrlich wrote, “Before the lights went down at the world premiere of ‘Tesla,’ writer-director Michael Almereyda said that his unconventional biopic of the famously enigmatic futurist was inspired by Derek Jarman, Henry James, and certain episodes of ‘Drunk History.’ He wasn’t kidding. What starts as an earnest (if lyrical) profile of the man who invented Elon Musk soon explodes into something more appropriately postmodern when Nikola Tesla (Ethan Hawke) and Thomas Edison (Kyle MacLachlan) get into a heated ice cream fight, and a woman’s voice comes over the soundtrack to inform us that it probably didn’t happen this way.”
Almereyda’s previous films include “Marjorie Prime,” “Experimenter,” “Cymbeline,” and “Hamlet,” a modern-day Shakespeare adaptation that also starred Hawke and MacLachlan.