After a somewhat lukewarm reception at the Toronto Film Festival, Dan Gilroy stepped back into the editing room to reshape his sophomore feature Roman J. Israel Esq., cutting out nearly fifteen minutes and reordering many scenes. The resulting film, though, shows no signs of last minute tinkering. In many ways, Roman J. Israel Esq. feels like a companion piece to Gilroy’s first feature Nightcrawler. Where Nightcrawler followed the rise of Louis Bloom, an unscrupulous immoral shark, Roman J. Israel Esq., charts the fall of the titular Roman, a principled moral beacon. Each man represents opposite extremes of the moral code – and both films detail how each strive to achieve success and the effects (or lack thereof) it has on their character.
Roman (Denzel Washington), a brilliant but socially maladroit lawyer, suddenly finds himself out of work when his charismatic partner dies from a heart attack. Left with no job and no money, Roman struggles with whether he can hang onto his ideals especially when offered a position at a commercially driven law firm.
In the following interview with Dan Gilroy, he discusses re-editing Roman J. Israel Esq. after the Toronto screening, the moral message behind the film, and settling on the name Roman J. Israel. For the full interview, watch above.
And here’s a full list of what’s discussed:
- How did Gilroy come up with the name Roman J Israel Esq.?
- What did he learn after the Toronto premiere and how did Roman J. Israel Esq. change afterwards?
- Was it a conscious choice to make a film with a character on the opposite moral spectrum as Louis Bloom (Nightcrawler)?
- Can a person be both moral and successful?
- Does Gilroy have an optimistic view of society and people at large?
- Is there a difference for Gilroy between writing something he’s directing vs. a film he’s not?
- How much did the finished Kong: Skull Island change from his initial draft?