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National Treasure - Jon Turteltaub Q&A



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. Was it helpful for you when it came to directing this being a schoolfriend of Nic? Did it ease the nerves that you knew him already?
A.
I actually think it was a help because I’ve done films with big movie stars and it can be a little intimidating at first. But it was a little less intimidating having known someone since we were both losers, basically, at school.
Bruckheimer: Speak for yourself.
Cage: The truth is that originally he didn’t want to cast me because he thought I was going to make fun of him.
Turteltaub: That’s true, because you sort of never get over being the person you were when you were 17. And Nic was much cooler than I was at high school, so I just assumed he’d make fun of me and steal my girlfriend.
Kruger: Which he did.
Turteltaub: He didn’t steal my girlfriend.
Cage: Neither one, he was more popular. He was always the one who had all the girls surrounding him as he talked about drama – we were in the drama department together. I was in the corner somewhere trying to figure out how to talk.

Q. How did you go about getting this plot so right, when these films can go so wrong?
A:
It’s listening to other people. One of the things you do is you watch other movies and try to learn as much as you can from the people who came before you. Watching treasure hunt movies, action movies, adventure movies. Listening to Jerry Bruckheimer helped a lot, helping to shape the movie and make sure it was pleasant for the audience.
And then you let the actors create the characters that they’ve seen. It’ll be more realistic [that way].
We wanted a movie that was grand and fun but also very believable and genuine. That just took a lot of trust in the writers and the research and making sure, as Jerry kept telling me, to make it funny.

Q. Is this is a film that speaks to the times we live in now? And is it likely to stimulate an interest at home in American history?
A:
I can’t pretend to know what other people are going to be stimulated in or not, but I think one of the things that comes to mind immediately is that this is a world treasure. My character says it belongs in the Cairo Museum, the Louvre, it belongs to the world. So it is an international treasure, and that’s something people have picked up on when I’ve done interviews in Spain and Rome and now in London.
There are clues in the movie which are based on American history, which are fascinating in themselves. I like to think that people around the world will be interested in that. Like what is the all seeing eye doing on the dollar bill? And what are these mysterious symbolic images?
I certainly think that people have responded to it in such a way that it certainly does work in these times we live in.
Turteltaub: Also, what made this film different from other treasure map films is that it takes place in our times. Most adventure films take place in the past, looking for treasure from the past. The Da Vinci Code is present day I think, so maybe it’s more about the fact that we are looking to history and finding answers from history to the problems we’re facing today.

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