Don’t let the delayed release date fool you into thinking the horror flick All the Boys Love Mandy Lane isn’t a movie worth seeing. It’s gruesome, it’s fun and it’s unexpected, in so many ways, and it’s finally hitting theaters on October 11th. When teenage beauty Mandy Lane (Amber Heard) accepts an invite to a classmate’s weekend getaway on a Texas ranch, everyone thinks they’re in for a wild time, but as things heat up, the body count starts to climb, and very quickly, no one is safe.
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, director Jonathan Levine talked about how it feels to finally have the movie out in the world for people to actually be able to see (it’s been on a journey since it first sold back in 2006), how different he is as a filmmaker now, what made actress Amber Heard his leading lady, and his hope that the film has a timeless feel. He also talked about the pilot he wrote and is directing for USA, called Rush, and the Christmas movie for stoners that he’s written for Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg to produce. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
JONATHAN LEVINE: It’s incredibly exciting! When we made it, our expectations were modest. We just wanted to finish it and hopefully take it to a festival. And then, at the very first festival, we sold it, so we were very, very happy about that. Strangely enough, here we are, six years later. It’s exciting, and it’s kind of weird, at the same time. But, I’m thrilled that people are finally going to be able to see it.
Does it feel like you made this film a lifetime ago? Do you feel like a different filmmaker, at this point?
LEVINE: I don’t feel like a different person. Now, I look at it and I think I’m more sophisticated than the person who made that movie, as far as my technical knowledge of film. But at the same time, there’s a freshness to it. It’s something I strive for in every movie, but it’s something that was so organic there because it just was fresh. You’re on this continuum where, the more experience you have, the better you get, but the more afraid you get because you learn the rules and you’re afraid to violate them. This film was made by someone who didn’t know the rules well enough to be afraid of them, and I think that’s pretty cool. So, I can look at it and be like, “I can’t believe I shot it that way,” but then, there are certain things where I go, “Wow, I can’t believe I was imaginative enough to do it that way.” It’s a double-edged sword.
Do you think this would be a very different film, if you made it at this point in your career?
LEVINE: Yeah, absolutely! It would be fun to see what that would be like. I’ve fantasized about doing a remake of it. But, I think it’s pretty cool that it’s going to see the light of day now. I’m quite proud of it. And I’m immensely proud of the work of the cast and crew. It’s cool!
LEVINE: Right. There’s two sides of it. They’re either going to think it’s a bad movie, or it’s going to take on this urban legend status of this amazing cult thing that has never seen the light of day. The burden of expectations, good and bad, are placed upon it, and that’s slightly strange. There’s a tendency to think, “Oh, what would it have been like, if it actually came out in 2006?” I indulge myself in that fantasy, a little bit, but when we made the film, we tried to give it a timeless feel. It was a throwback to ‘70s slasher films, which allows it to transcend. Hopefully, it doesn’t feel like it’s this old thing. It’s supposed to follow in the footsteps of classic horror films. Hopefully, it transcends feeling dated.
So, I don’t know what the hardest thing is about having it come out now. I certainly don’t feel like people think it hasn’t come out in a long time because it’s bad. I’m trying to resist second-guessing the whole path it took, not that myself and the producers had much agency in its path to the screen. More than anything, it’s a very interesting story about how it ended up finally being released by the Weinstein Company. It’s a very interesting trial by fire. Especially as someone who cut their teeth on independent films and as someone who continues to make those, I feel like I’ve had five different film experiences in one experience, and I know a lot more about what it takes to make an independent movie and have it see proper distribution. For me, it’s been a really fascinating experience and I’m just happy that, at the end of the day, it’s coming out. There are a lot of other filmmakers who don’t have that same experience.
LEVINE: Except there’s one cell phone that really bothers me.
She’s only risen in visibility since you’ve made this film. What was it about her, back then, that made her the actress you wanted to embody this character?
LEVINE: It certainly had nothing to do with her star status. Certain people walk into a room and you just know it, especially the fit between her and this role. There are not that many people who are as gorgeous as she is and who are as technically talented, and also able to show that there’s something more going on beneath all that beauty. She’s a very, very smart person, in real life. I think that comes across in the movie, as well. I don’t think she puts up with a lot of bullshit, either. She calls you on stuff, and she’s definitely really smart and cynical and funny. She’s great!
When you’re casting a movie like this, is it more challenging to cast for specific types, or is it more challenging to cast someone for a character like the ranch hand, where you don’t really know what to make of him?
LEVINE: The great thing about Jacob Forman’s script is that everyone is not quite what they seem. Even the types are a little more complicated than that. So, when we were casting, we were looking at mostly young, unknown, up-and-coming actors. A couple of my roles were to find people who were intelligent, and intelligent enough, not just as actors, but as storytellers, to know their place in the story and to know what the story needed. Also, we wanted to find people who could play against type. I’m very, very proud of all the actors in the film. The one common ground that they all have is that they’re all intelligent people and they all have good senses of humor, which was something that I learned, in casting that first movie, that I’ve continued to use throughout the next three movies I made.
Do you have any idea what you’re going to be doing next?
LEVINE: Yes. I’m about to direct a pilot that I wrote for USA. They just announced that, and it’s called Rush. And I’m just finishing a script that I’m hoping to shoot in the next few months. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are producing it, and that’s a Christmas party movie, or a Christmas movie for stoners. I probably shouldn’t even be talking about it. It doesn’t have a name. It may never happen, so we’ll see.
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane opens in theaters on October 11th.