New York Comic Con 2018: Drew Goddard and Cailee Spaeny on Bad Times at the El Royale, by Andrew Benjamin
For Drew Goddard, director of the film Bad Times at the El Royale, the film was an opportunity to make a throwback film to old school noir thrillers. Talking to reporters at New York Comic Con this past weekend, he and actress Cailee Spaeny dished out details of the ensemble thriller, which also stars Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, and Chris Hemsworth.
Goddard, who has one other film directing credit on his resume, the meta horror comedy Cabin in the Woods, calls his newest movie his “love letter to the crime thriller.”
In his own words, he said the film is “about one night in a mysterious hotel in 1969 where seven nefarious people check into a hotel and very quickly start trying to murder each other.”
Goddard said he started working on this film after writing The Martian, explaining, “I wanted to do something different than I had done so I dove into this and out came this sort of crazy crime thriller. I really like when movies surprise you and take you to places you don’t expect.”
He said specific inspirations came from books. “I’ve loved crime fiction growing up,” Goddard stated. He cited among his inspirations for the film were authors Dashiell Hammett, who wrote the novel The Maltese Falcon, Flannery O’Connor, Graham Greene, and James Ellroy.
He also said the film came about due to his “lifelong affair with film noir.” He mentioned that films such as Chinatown, The Conversation and Blow-Up all played an inspiration for this film. When asked if such films like John Carpenter’s The Thing also inspired the film, Goddard said “It’s not an obvious inspiration” but that “Carpenter is in my DNA.”
“I like movies where you don’t know who the protagonist is,” he said. “It gives the movie a real energy when you don’t know who the protagonist is and that was one of my goals of this movie was to get these heavyweight actors and let them all come to the forefront and guess whose story this is.”
When casting the film, Goddard said, “I needed someone special… who had the technical skill and who was unafraid of putting herself into the role… I cannot wait for the world to see what Cailee does in this film.”
Spaeny is a 21-year-old actress from Missouri who starred in the sci-fi giant robot film Pacific Rim: Uprising and is also in the upcoming Vice. She said taking the role of Ruth Summerspring was an opportunity to “not only to prove to the people watching these movies but also to myself that I can pull these things off.”
Spaeny also said the character “was a fun challenge for me.”
In the movie, “every character has to pour their heart and that is a scary vulnerable place to be in,” she said. “To be cast in this movie was incredible and such and an honor.”
As for what Goddard hopes the audience gets out of the film, he said he hopes the audience gets “to have a good time.”
“I think there’s something special about a film when you don’t know where the story is going to take you. It’s a very fun movie to watch with an audience because there is a lot of great surprises. I like my films to be a party. I want my films to be type of films you can watch again and again.”