Magazine article Screen International

Duncan Jones on Netflix Thriller 'Mute': "I Was Unwilling to Let It Go"

Magazine article Screen International

Duncan Jones on Netflix Thriller 'Mute': "I Was Unwilling to Let It Go"

Article excerpt

Moon director’s project was 16 years in the making.

Alexander Skarsgård in ‘Mute’

Duncan Jones has been working on Mute for 16 years, a labour of love that began before the UK-born writer-director made his feature debut with 2009 BAFTA-winner Moon and continued through his work on independent sci-fi thriller Source Code and game-based studio hit Warcraft: The Beginning.

Written with Michael Robert Johnson and financed by Netflix, Mute was shot in the autumn of 2016. The sci-fi drama follows Amish bartender Leo (played by Alexander Skarsgård), unable to speak since childhood, whose search for a missing lover (Seyneb Saleh) leads him through the underbelly of a near-future Berlin and entangles him with two irreverent US army surgeons (Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux).

What was it about this story that made you stick with the project for so long?

It had a couple of ideas that were close to my heart, but the underlying subtext of the film is about parenting: what makes a good parent and how do you best fulfill your obligations as a parent, and that goes for a number of characters in the film.

When Dad [David Bowie] died and the woman who raised me [Jones’ childhood nanny Marion Skene, to whom, together with Bowie, the film is dedicated] died and I started having kids of my own I started to see that in all of these different characters there are different aspects of parenthood. And that’s probably why I’ve found myself so unwilling to let the thing go.

How much did the project change over all that time?

In heart and tone it probably stayed the same, on some cosmetic levels it changed. When I originally wrote it British gangster movies were all the rage and it was going to be London-based and a very small budget movie. Over 16 years of evolution I realised that the central conceit of a protagonist who couldn’t talk actually lent itself to a sci-fi setting even more than a contemporary one. …

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