Bruce A. Evans (Director - 'Mr. Brooks')
'Just Killing Time!'
Consider Mr. Brooks. A successful businessman. A generous philanthropist. A loving father and devoted husband. Seemingly, he's perfect. But Mr. Brooks has a secret... he is also the notorious Thumbprint Killer and no one has ever suspected it... until now.
WARNING! Plot spoilers ahead!!
Chatting recently to the film's writer and director Bruce A. Evans I first wondered why after an amazing 15 year directing hiatus - ever since 1992’s ‘Kuffs’ - he had decided to now come out of nowhere to return to the director's chair with this dramatic movie, ‘Mr Brooks.’ So, what had made him do such a thing and where indeed had he been for those past 15 years?!
Bruce A. Evans - "I've been in a Witness Protection program for years," he laughs. "After 'Kuffs' I was offered some things that I turned down and became invisible. My writing partner and I continued to write and we would write things for hire and other directors would go on and use them. And then we just decided we were getting hired to write the 'Stand By Me,' 'Jungle 2 Jungle' kind of things. They were sweet, nice things so we sat down and said let's write something dark to show people that we can do that. And let's write it on spec so we can can control it and do it like we want it done."
Being that this film kinda glorifies the getting-away-with-it aspect of a serial killer, didn’t you find the subject matter very taboo, very forbidden? And if so, did it get tamed down along the way, perhaps? "No, what happened was that we wrote it on spec with Kevin Costner in mind and through a friend named Kevin Reynolds we were able to get it to him. He read it, liked it and through a process of wooing said yes ... on the condition that we did it independently and that we did it exactly as written. So what you see, for better or for worse, is exactly what we had in mind."
You say you always had Kevin Costner in mind, but who was always going to be your second choice? "We thought, and you'll kind if go 'What?!' ... but we thought of Hugh Grant. Because we really wanted to make him somebody that you liked. Because our conceit is that Mr. Brooks is a very, very good man with a horrible addiction."
With regard the plot of 'Mr. Brooks,' unless you know of a serial killer in real life that tells you the ins and outs you can basically play God with what this guy can get away with! "Well, we read all of the things about serial killers ... and the thing was that we said if we made this an addiction that he's trying to self-medicate then we have a story. Subsequently, at the time the BTK killer had not been unmasked. All the profiles stated that all serial killers are loners and that they had bad childhoods and that kind of stuff. And then the BTK killer comes out and he's a family man, a Deacon in the church. Totally involved in the community."
"And then there's the Russian guy that's come out since then, the most notorious of the Russian serial killers and he's supposedly killed 60 to 120 people. And he admits that it's an addiction. So, we didn't know it at the time, but we made the assumption that if you really enjoyed something forbidden and couldn't stop you could classify it as an addiction. And we just started running from there."
Being that Costner’s character is obviously troubled, was William Hurt’s buddy-buddy / double act persona always meant to be so visual … or did that part grow as filming began? "Oh yes, it was always 'Harvey'," he gently laughs. "With James Stewart he's an alcoholic and has a giant rabbit he communicates with when he's drunk. And so Harvey is his companion. He sees him and we see him, but no one else does."
Although the public obviously fears, loathes and despises any real life serial killer, they flock to see someone like Costner take on the role. Why is our society so attracted to such a screen phenomenon? "If you look at The Godfather those people did horrible things but they were the best of the horrible people. So, Michael and Brando they were gangsters who killed people in various ways and lived a violent, brutish life. But they were the most noble among that tribe of brutish people."
"And so, with Mr. Brooks we tried to make it very obvious he was a good man: he loves his wife, he's good at his job, he's involved in his community, he loves his daughter, and he also has this horrible addiction. It's not something that he can readily control. It overtakes him. He just can't control it."
I have to say that Dane Cook was a really unexpected yet inspired choice! "Totally. The interesting thing with Dane was that we had tried to get him in to read but he was always on tour. And we knew he liked the script, but we were ready to go with someone else. Originally Zach Braff had said he would play it, but then he got a go-picture of his to direct and so he backed out."
"And so we spread our net and were looking at a bunch of people and one day got a DVD that was shot by a bedside lamp. And it was Dane doing the part while his manager - who was also manning the camera - off screen was reading the other part. And Dane read for us in that way. And so we saw this DVD and said 'Wow, this is great.' And then when he came on the set the wardrobe and appearance that we had talked about ... he came on ready to go. I think he has the chance to be an amazing dramatic actor if he wants to be. He has all of the great instincts of just letting himself go and being in the moment."
And Demi Moore also has some incredible depth to her troubled performance! "Well, there's a deleted scene on the DVD that shows you that she has more issues than we showed in the movie. She is a woman who's been damaged by life. Our conceit was that whenever Mr. Brooks was in the room he was the smartest person in the room; and whenever Detective Atwood was in the room she was the smartest person in the room."
The dream ending of Costner getting his neck slashed was kinda expected - I’m guessing only by us cynical guys in the media - but it also felt like it could have been thought of as filming progressed i.e.: shock value? "No, as I say, what you see is the first draft of what we wrote. It has only happened twice. Once with 'Stand By Me' where we did a re-write for Rob Reiner and within six lines it was what we wrote. And this within six lines or so was what we wrote."
"I'm glad that you enjoyed the end even though you could see it coming. Some people felt that they didn't see it coming and were disturbed by it. But our conceit was that this man who has done horrible things is now being tortured by the thing that he loves the most; his daughter. And it is our way of the serial killer getting his just deserts at the end. It's not that the cops come and blow him away but now the mental torture of his daughter possibly being him ... and the fear that he has from that is torture enough."
Costner has gone on record as saying that this will be a trilogy of ‘Mr. Brooks’ movies … does this mean that you’re already signed in the Director’s chair also, perhaps? "Well, what that means is that if the DVD and the worldwide grosses justify it there will be another one."
Come on now, you must have started work on 'Mr. Brooks 2'?! "No, actually not. We're on to something else that we would like to do."
OK, so let's discuss that! "There's nothing that I can reveal at the moment."
Well, that's bloody useless information! Come one, just give me a tidbit of info! "Let's say it's a pirate story set in space," he laughs. "It is a puppet presentation,' he adds jokingly.
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
'Mr. Brooks' DVD Purchase Link
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