Karyn Kusama on Helming ‘Destoyer’ and Watching Nicole Kidman Disappear in the Role

     January 2, 2019

With Destroyer now playing in limited release, I recently sat down with director Karyn Kusama’s to talk about making the film. During the wide-ranging interview, she talked about why she didn’t want to use soundstages, Nicole Kidman’s amazing performance, the challenges of filming the bank heist in camera and on a very limited schedule, what she learned from early screenings, what her three-hour version of the film would have been like, how she works with screenwriters Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, and more. In addition, she talked about the resurgence of Jennifer’s Body and why she loved working on Halt and Catch Fire.

destroyer-posterIf you haven’t seen the trailers for Destroyer, the neo-noir crime thriller is led by an incredible Nicole Kidman performance (one of the best of the year), which sees her playing a LAPD detective Erin Bell who is haunted by her undercover past. When her old gang leader resurfaces, we follow Bell as she tries to figure out where he is. As she pursues him, we see flashbacks that slowly reveal how her undercover operation years ago went so wrong. Scripted by The Invitation writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, the film also stars Sebastian Stan, Toby KebbellBradley Whitford, Tatiana Maslany, Jade Pettyjohn, and Scoot McNairy.

Check out what Karyn Kusama had to say in the player above and below is exactly what we talked about followed by the official synopsis. You can also read Adam Chitwood’s Destroyer review here.

Karyn Kusama:

  • Has she noticed more people talking about Jennifer’s Body the past few years?
  • How she works with screenwriters Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi.
  • Other projects she is developing right now.
  • Talks about Nicole Kidman’s amazing performance and the amazing collaboration.
  • On not using soundstages and only on location.
  • On what you gain when you are actually driving in L.A. traffic.
  • destroyer-nicole-kidman-sebastian-stan

    Image via Annapurna Pictures

    The challenges of filming the bank heist in camera and on a very limited schedule.

  • What did she learn from early screenings of the film?
  • How her first cut was closer to 3 hours and what that version would have showed.
  • What was it like working on Halt and Catch Fire?

Here’s the official synopsis for Destroyer:

Destroyer follows the moral and existential odyssey of LAPD detective Erin Bell who, as a young cop, was placed undercover with a gang in the California desert with tragic results. When the leader of that gang re-emerges many years later, she must work her way back through the remaining members and into her own history with them to finally reckon with the demons that destroyed her past.

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