Wes Craven--Red Eye

He shouldn’t have this kind of trouble.

It may come as a surprise to the common movie fan, but even Wes Craven, the hugely successful creator of the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Scream” franchises, has difficulty making the projects of his choice.  Even when he does get a green light, battles with studio execs are at times more troublesome than the production itself.

“They want to know you’re passionate and believe in what you’re doing,” Craven said during a recent press day at the Mandarin Oriental.  “And you have to listen, but you also can’t listen too much or you won’t make your movie.”

It is perhaps serendipitous, then, that Craven liked Carl Ellsworth’s script for “Red Eye” so much that he only offered the first-time screenwriter minor suggestions for revisions.  More importantly, the producing studio, DreamWorks, was strongly behind the project, and largely supportive of Craven’s creative decisions.  This lies in stark contrast to his last film, “Cursed,” which was just that from the start of production and was his last picture for Dimension Films, the horror genre arm of Miramax for which he had completed five movies dating back to “Scream” in 1996.

In “Red Eye,” Rachel McAdams (“The Notebook”) plays the manager of a posh Miami Hotel who is returning home from Dallas, where her grandmother recently died.  On the plane she is seated next to Jackson, played by Cillian Murphy (“Batman Begins”) as an ominous, but at first charming man who is both flirtatious and respectful.  Things change, however, when he tells her that her father will be killed if she doesn’t switch the room at her hotel in which the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security will be staying.

“I’m very proud of the movie, and very happy I was able to pull it off,” Craven said, adding that in the very short span of four-and-a-half months he was able to shoot the movie and hand in a director’s cut to the studio, something that is virtually unheard of in such a brief period of time. 

Craven’s proudest accomplishment, however, are the performances given by his two young stars, particularly Murphy, who struggled at first to find the right tone for his character.  “The best advice I can give an actor is to just trust me,” Craven said he told Murphy.  “I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve never made anybody look bad, so just trust me, because otherwise we’re going to be here all year, and we don’t have all year.”  

While the box office take will ultimately be the barometer of success for “Red Eye,” Craven continues to press forward and look for other non-horror projects.  Aside from developing a period piece and a romantic comedy, Craven is also craving for some time off.  “I need to restock the batteries and become human again,” he said while laughing, suggesting a recognition that his chosen career is never going to be easy, but he also can’t wait for the challenges that lay ahead.

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