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Paycheck - John Woo Q&A



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. Were you, prior to this film, a fan of the works of Philip K Dick? Was that the catalyst that got you going?
A.
To be honest, I haven't read any of his books before Paycheck, but I had seen a lot of movies that were made from his books, like Blade Runner, Minority Report and Total Recall. I was so amazed by all those movies, I remember when I watched Blade Runner, I cried. I cried for the robot. I think his writing is very human. He also has a lot of good ideas and a lot of philosophy in his books.
The script, for Paycheck, was a really clever script, and a very clever book. It had a lot of good ideas and a very good love story. When I read the script, I didn't see it as a sci-fi movie, because it was so human. I also thought it had a good theme; of a man being in control of his own destiny. I thought that was exciting.
I had never really intended to make a sci-fi movie, because most of the time, they are always dark, especially when they talk about the future.
The future seems to be pretty cold and there's not much hope. It's always grey, or blue, and there's a lot of steel.
So, I tried to make it different, to make it more human, warmer. But one of the most important things was the script, which I really liked.

Q. I noticed that you limited yourself to just the one dove. Was that a nod to your fans?
A.
I didn't want to use it again, at the beginning, but when we shot the scene where he sees his own death, I all of a sudden got this idea of getting the dove and flying it through the door, as it would make a moment that was sort of spiritual. I just couldn't help myself, I guess, as it's hard to change my own character [laughs].

Q. It was on the internet that Matt Damon was originally offered the role?
A.
That's true, but unfortunately, he was already committed to another movie, and he didn't want to do the same role, but he highly recommended Ben Affleck. He said Ben would probably do it better than him.
But I love Ben, and I love all of his work, especially Good Will Hunting and Changing Lanes. I find that Ben has great charisma and actually reminds me of a young Cary Grant.
Actually, I had a great time working with Ben, and I think that he's a real person, and really right for the role. He was very humble and always happy to work with anybody. He would never say 'no'.
The other great thing about working with Ben is that he is just a great film-maker. He knows about movies. He's always on the set and willing to help out, with dialogue. He helped me a lot, especially during the ending sequence.

Q. What was it like working with Uma Thurman?
A.
She's a real actress. A really hard-working and professional actress. Sometimes when I tried to explain how the angle of the camera would work for her, she never cared. She never cared whether the camera would see her face or not. And sometimes I would move her hair, if it got messy, I would try and fix it, she would push away my hand.
She just wants to act naturally, or act whatever she feels. Some actors are really conscious about camera angles, so that it can see their face and they look beautiful, but she's just not that kind.
And sometimes on the set she came up with good ideas, with dialogue, and she doesn't like using stunt doubles, because she wants to do them all herself. I think Ben and her worked together so well, and they're both very charming, they really could help make the love story more romantic.
The only problem with them is that I had to look up all the time, my neck hurt, cos they're so tall [laughs]. But they are very sweet people and extremely professional.

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