ByJack Reneau, writer at Creators.co
Writer, film addict, and world-class sandwich chef. Follow @Errant_Venture
Jack Reneau

The entertainment business is a vast, competitive, ever-growing society. Day after day people spend sweat and tears to "make it big" and enjoy the company of the world's elite stars. Every once in a while a humble, sincere person worthy of fame but content in their artistry rises to the top. One of these people is Rupert Wyatt.

Wyatt and crew on set
Wyatt and crew on set

When it comes to movie-making, Wyatt has his hands in all parts of the process. Since 1999 he's garnered credit for writing, directing, producing, and cinematography. His directorial credits include Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Gambler, and The Escapist. He co-founded Picture Farm, a production collective based in New York and London that, among other projects, teamed up with Marvel and Netflix to make "motion posters" for season one of Daredevil.

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Wyatt about his work, and he was kind enough to take a few minutes out of his busy schedule to answer some questions.

If you could pick one word to describe working on The Gambler, what would it be?

Rupert: Pleasurable. [laughs] Is that strong enough? Yeah, pleasurable.
Anthony Kelley, Stephan Levinson, Rupert Wyatt, John Goodman, Mark Wahlberg and Irwin Winkler
Anthony Kelley, Stephan Levinson, Rupert Wyatt, John Goodman, Mark Wahlberg and Irwin Winkler

Wyatt recently directed the 2014 thriller The Gambler. The film stars Mark Wahlberg as a college literature professor alongside Brie Larson as one of his students. The supporting cast includes an impressive list of stars, namely John Goodman, Jessica Lange, and Wesley Snipes.

How involved would you say you were with other areas of the film, for example editing and cinematography?

Rupert: I was across all of it. The process I think when you're making a film as a director is twofold. You're either coming on to a pre-existing project and finding your way into it, and that's been my experience for the last two movies I've done. There is the other version which is building something from the ground up, from inception, being very much the creator and filmmaker, which is more time-consuming. The Gambler is the latter of the two scenarios.
Brie Larson and Rupert Wyatt
Brie Larson and Rupert Wyatt

The Gambler is based off of a short story by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and a film based off the same story was made in the 70's. Did you take any influence from it when you made your version of the story?

Rupert: No I didn't, and there's a simple reason for that. I have great admiration for the work of {writer} James Toback and also Karel Reisz, the director, but I never set out to remake a film; I had no desire to do that, really. What I was attracted to was the script that Bill Monahan had written. I'd seen the original film so when I read the script I realized very quickly that his take on the notion of what it means to be a gambler was radically different from the '74 movie. That was a story about a spiral of decline and addiction; Bill had written a story which was much more about a man who's really looking to deconstruct himself because he's unhappy and trapped in his life; the material gains in his life were either dropped on him or inherited, and are not really of his making, and he's looking to break free of it. Gambling is a way to blow himself up, and that's not an addict. That's a guy who is looking for means of escape.
You know, casual breakfast talk
You know, casual breakfast talk

You're currently working on a project, a series called Echo Chamber. From what I've been able to find on it, the series is about a British soldier who infiltrates the IRA in the 1980's. Can you tell me how this project started?

Rupert: It's a fascinating true story about a man who was recruited for a specific reason: to go undercover in the IRA and ultimately turn the IRA inside out, but it becomes so much more than that. What we've developed this into is something that takes it out of the historical context of Northern Ireland in the early 80's, and it's now more of a, without giving too much away, well, the foundations of the world are more science-fiction.

Jack: I'm very much looking forward to it. Would you mind if I asked you about Rise of the Planet of the Apes?

Rupert: Of course

I'm a huge fan of Andy Serkis and his work in films like The Lord of the Rings series and The Prestige. He's considered one of the premier authorities on motion-capture, and I was wondering what it was like to work with him as he played Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Rupert: It was incredible. The way the process started was very early on when I came onto that film, we were thankfully, for many reasons including moral, able to cut the use of live apes. So the producers and I decided to partner with Weta {Digital}, because we realized the only way to achieve what we wanted was through motion capture. With their experience, specifically on Avatar, we thought it was our best option. There were cost considerations of course but very early on in the process Joe Leterri insisted I consider Andy and that he could help from a technical standpoint: Andy is not only a terrific character actor but also really understands the process and understands that motion capture starts from the performance. No matter what you do in a digital realm, everything comes from the performance. So you can't take, say, a stuntman for example and have them create the character. You really need a phenomenal actor to do that, because whatever the animators and the guys at Weta do after that is based on the performance, so Andy was our guy and we were lucky he wanted to do it.
Serkis filming "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes"
Serkis filming "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes"

Serkis has received critical acclaim for his performances both motion-captured and live action. His performance as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films won awards across many different platforms, and his performance as Caesar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes garnered Oscar buzz this past year.

One last question: if you could have any on superpower, what would it be?

Rupert: One superpower?

Yes, one superhuman ability. What do you think that would be?

Rupert: ...Oh my God [laughs] let's see, one super power. I think it'd have to be...augh there's so many of them but they have downsides. The ability to...no, not that one, I was going to say read minds but that's a bad thing, you don't want that. You don't want to live forever, that's for sure. I think it's a crap answer to be honest so do with it what you will, but I think the ability to fix this planet would be a pretty phenomenal superpower.

It was certainly a unique answer! Until Wyatt fixes the planet he's got quite a bit on his plate: he's currently lined up to direct 10 episodes of Echo Chamber and is rumored to be in the running to direct Charlize Theron in an upcoming project titled Agent 13. Be sure to check out The Gambler, which is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD, and don't forget to catch up on the Planet of the Apes movies before the next installment hits theaters in 2017!

Thanks for reading!

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