In terms of the fan campaign to get the film a wide release, were you all surprised by the outpouring of passion and support?
EVANS: I’ve been surprised about everything about this movie. I mean, every movie you make, you hope people will enjoy it. But this movie has kind of surpassed all of my expectations across the board. Every single day I have people emailing me and texting me and just saying the most wonderful things about this. But in terms of the way it was released, like I’ve said; I’m a little green. But it has been a constant surprise and a constant satisfaction, in terms of the way people are receiving it. Whether it be in a theater or whether it’s on VOD, it has been phenomenal. But, like I said, I’m still learning. So I don’t really know if I have an opinion, in terms of how it could have or should have been released.
Other than learning details of the modern multi-platform distribution game, are there any other lessons you learned from this film that you have taken into your career as a director?
EVANS: I mean, Bong does things very differently as a director. I don’t know if he, it’s amazing, it’s unbelievable. This is one of the things that I would see on set that would blow my mind. Typically, when you’re shooting a scene, you shoot— if we were having a scene, you would shoot in a master; you would get us together in a two shot; you’d do the whole scene; you’d get my single and your single and we would have a lot of options in the editing room to cut the scene together as you so choose. Bong will shoot the edit in his mind. So, you have storyboards and if I saw the scene between you and I, if the first three lines he saw in a two shot and the next two lines were on you and the next two lines were on me; that’s what he shoots. So we’d literally, ‘Shoot! Cut!’ [Snaps]. There were days when, there is plenty of dialogue that I had in the movie that are not on film. There is no footage of me saying certain dialogue. He shoots the movie according to what he sees in his brain. It’s the most bold, terrifying thing I’ve ever seen any director do. But it obviously worked out. I would never be that confident. But it worked out. It’s one of those amazing things that you can do when you’re that powerful of a filmmaker.
Can you talk about working with Tilda Swinton and what she brings out of you as an actor?
EVANS: Sure. We are lucky to be witnessing her as an actress, we are all better people for witnessing her performances. The best thing about Tilda is – I’ve worked with some actors – the best thing to do as an actor is to work with the director and to be willing to collaborate, you know? It’s a collaboration. Tilda is a good enough actress to be confident enough in her ability so that if Bong gives her any note any note, she’s like, ‘Sure. Let’s try it.’ She’s up for anything because she know it’s going to be phenomenal. So there is a beautiful collaboration, so there is a wonderful, bold willingness. So you find yourself as an actor watching, not listening anymore, just spectating and— ‘Oh shit I have a line?’ She’s so good, it’s just easy to get lost in what she does. It’s just so real and so present.
Did you guys shoot anything that didn’t make it to the finished film?
CHOI: He has an on set editor who is on the set, cutting as we’re shooting. So at the end of the day we watch the scene—
EVANS: You watch the scene! You film a scene, and at the end of the day, you watch the scene! That’s unbelievable! That doesn’t happen in movies! That doesn’t happen. It’s unbelievable. I’ve never been part of a movie that…
CHOI: Yeah, Ed [Harris] came in the last week of production. They day before, we all sat downy together and showed him what we’d been doing.
EVANS: Yeah, we showed him a movie!
CHOI: The next day is the next scene. Let’s do it. This is what we’ve shot so far.
EVANS: It’s amazing.
On set did you feel a divide between those who were in the front and those who were in the tail? Did Director Bong encourage you to stay apart?
EVANS: No, no. Not really. I’ll actually say, on this movie there was a real deep sense of unity, regardless of whether you were in the front or the tail. I mean, it’s such a unique film, again. It was a different way of shooting, a different script. You’re filming in a foreign location where nobody really knows each other. So the sense of camaraderie was very strong on this movie. So no, I never felt the need to avoid the front sectioners.
So, reason the movie had this multi platform release is—and Indiewire did a pretty extensive article that showed the movie will likely make about as much profit as it ever could have—was that, the Weinsteins wanted a different cut. They probably wanted it to be under two hours and to lose some of the subtitled portions of it, but can you go into any detail as to what changes they wanted to make and what portions that might have wanted to lose from the film?
CHOI: I think they just wanted to make a shorter film and to make it, more of a commercial type of film. And I think at one point, they just kind of realized, what makes this film unique is all of the things that Bong is great at. And so finally we decided, all of us, that it was best to just keep the film intact.
Was there ever another cut actually made with a voice over, or a…?
CHOI: No. There was some tests that we have done. There was one version that tested that was 20 minutes shorter. Director Bong has talked about that. And it didn’t test as well as [Bong’s] version.
Is there any truth to the reports that the Weinsteins were especially uncomfortable with the scene that involved a shooting inside the school train?
CHOI: I think there was some concern initially because the shooting in Connecticut had happened a short time ago. But by the time we released the movie, it wasn’t really an issue because, I think the people who saw the film realized that this was not a contemporary setting. It was in its’ own unique world and future. So it went away and wasn’t an issue.
You talked a little bit before about the background for the story for you, when you were getting on board. Can you talk a little bit about why that is important for you as an actor and getting into character and how that may have changed since you became a director?
EVANS: Sure. I mean, you always try and take as much time as you can and work on your collaboration with the director is enormously important. But every actor is different and as a direction, you kind of realize— even as an actor I realized that ever actor approaches things differently. And as a director, you have to – it’s not just organizing things, it’s not just setting shots, it’s not just communicating with every department – it’s about being able to know your actor and know what they need and what they want. Some actors, to get them where you need them to go, you may need to pull them aside and have a 20 minute discussion about whether their mom hugged them enough. And other actors, you just need to get out of their way. It’s an art unto itself, how to engage the actor and get what you need.
I couldn’t have asked for a better experience with Bong. Bong gave me everything I could have wanted and needed. Especially on the more emotional days, he is just among the better directors I have ever worked with, in terms of acting and helping me get what I need. Even with, when there were days when I would struggle. He had, even with the slight language barrier. He knew how to kind of pick very unique words. I feel like it’s such an awful thing to say. He could give you such a simple note and you would be like, ‘I got it. I got it. I know exactly what you want.’ And that’s a trait unique unto him. But in terms of directing myself or other actors, you have to approach every actor with kid gloves because you never know what they’re going to need or how they’re going to approach their own craft.
Does the film have a hopeful view of humanity, or a bleak view of humanity? What do you think?
EVANS: It’s a good question, I get asked that a lot actually.
CHOI: I think it’s a bleak journey to a happy ending.
EVANS: I’d say that as well. Thanks.
Your big emotional speech at the end is so good, but when you read that and you know how you have to do that, is that as an actor, is that terrifying or exciting?
EVANS: It’s terrifying. It’s terrifying because – again, movies are a collaboration – so you hand your performance over and I’ve seen a lot of times where, you do certain things in movies and you see the final product and, it may not be what you want it to be. So it’s only scary if you don’t know what you want it to be. If you trust your director, its beyond exciting. I wish I could think of a clever analogy. But, there is a beautiful cradle that a good director can provide to help you explore and take risks. If you don’t trust your director, it really handicaps your risk. You really try to stick to what is safe. If you feel confident that your director is going to massage the performance into something that works in the final product, you feel a lot more willing to take chances and to roll the dice. And with Bong, there were a lot of different takes where you try a lot of different things. And you just feel confident that it’s going to work out in the end.