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Safe House - Daniel Espinosa interview

Safe House, Daniel Espinosa

Interview by Rob Carnevale

DANIEL Espinosa talks about some of the challenges of directing Safe House and why he didn’t set out to make an action movie. He was speaking at a UK press conference for the film.

Q. The film seems to be so contemporary, what with the WikiLeaks angle and also the elements of water-boarding… was all that there in the screenplay you saw initially, or was that added through further research that you all did?
Daniel Espinosa: No that was in the script, that was part of the whole vibe when I read it, it had like a real base in our reality, we also used different experts that had actually worked in safe houses and operatives to be able to base this in some kind of reality, something that’s close to our society and our world right now.

Q. Given that these guys are in a world of secrecy, was it quite straight-forward finding out some of the stuff you found out, and getting people to talk to you – such as the consultant on set?
Daniel Espinosa: What moved me about our consultant was not so much the practical expertise, but when shooting certain scenes I could see that he was emotionally moved sometimes and when we started talking we talked a lot about how this work that he had done had affected his personal life and how it affects you as a human-being. Because these people that get into this line of business, they go there out of ethical reasons as the beginning, but what they are supposed to do for their country or what they believe in, is sometimes unethical acts and how does that affect you as a human-being? That’s nothing political, that’s something that’s human. How do we live without compromising our own ethics? For me, that is the core of the movie.

Q. Action movies nowadays are very big and very loud and certainly there’s a major action element here, but there’s also some wonderful quieter moments, a lot more internalised. I wondered which were the most challenging and fun to do?
Daniel Espinosa: I don’t think you can direct a movie like an action movie, you can make a movie, and when it comes to the fighting I never saw it as fighting, I saw it as struggling. So, I think that’s how you should perceive something if you’re trying to do another set-piece scene. I think that all scenes in the movie move the character and if you perceive that as an action movie maybe that’s a testament that you think it’s intense, and I’m happy. But I did everything I could to get the right people around it. We had the fight co-ordinator that did A Prophet, which also had very intense, struggling fight scenes, and he also did Taken. So, I tried to gather around us people that were striving to do a movie, not an action piece.

Safe House opens in UK cinemas on Friday, February 24, 2012.