Drew Goddard talks ‘Bad Times At The El Royale’ - ‘Every movie I have ever made has felt like a bad idea at the time’
The writer and director of the 1960s set crime epic talks us through his creative process
Over the last decade, Drew Goddard has been one of the few filmmakers to avoid superheroes and sequels and still get mainstream movies made.
He has written “Cloverfield,” “World War Z” and “The Martian,” as well as writing and directing “The Cabin In The Woods,” all of which have made over $1.4 billion combined while costing just over $353 million to make.
So it is little surprise that, considering his seemingly innate ability to recognize and make what moviegoers want to see, 20th Century Fox greenlit the 1969 set crime noir “Bad Times At The El Royale,” which revolves around a priest (Jeff Bridges), a vacuum cleaner salesman (Jon Hamm), a mysterious hippie (Dakota Johnson) and a singer (Cynthia Erivo) checking into a novelty hotel, all with their own ulterior motives.
But rather than admitting to possessing some sort of cinematic clairvoyance, Goddard instead recently told me over the phone, “Every movie I have ever made has felt like a bad idea at the time.”
“I remember when we tried to make ‘Cloverfield’ people thought it was insane. Same with ‘The Martian.’ I have always tried to write and make something I wanted to watch.”
“I have always been lucky in that regard. With this, I just wanted to make a big ensemble movie about the 60s and have some fun with it. I just trusted that if I wanted to do it other people would want to do it and all of the studios were excited by it.”
But how did Goddard get started on and develop “Bad Times At The El Royale”?
“It started with the very simple attitude, ‘Make the movie you would want to watch.’ I love crime cinema and fiction. I have intoxicated with film noir all of my life and I just wanted to play around with it. It started with that.”
“It started with the simple concept of a hotel on the border of California and Nevada on one night in 1969 and what if a whole bunch of disreputable characters checked in at the same time. What kind of chaos would then unfold and then I just let the characters guide the story.”
“I don’t try to be bold or not be bold. It is all instinct I suppose. It is important when you are being an artist to be fearless and not be afraid to fail.”
“I just want to make a story that I haven’t seen before and then see where the characters take me. That tends to lead to good results.”
“A lot of the big surprises and twists and turns from this film are actually because I thought what the character would actually do oppose what the plot wanted to be. We just trusted that if we followed instincts like that it would take us to interesting places and it did.”
“Bad Times At The El Royale” is in cinemas on October 12.