Director Michael Cuesta Talks KILL THE MESSENGER, Balancing Fact and Fiction, the Alternate Opening, Future Projects, and More

     October 10, 2014

Michael Cuesta-Kill-the-Messenger-interview

Opening this weekend is director Michael Cuesta’s (Homeland, Dexter) dramatic thriller Kill the Messenger.  Based on the true story of Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner), whose life was ruined when he linked the CIA to a scheme to arm Contra rebels in Nicaragua and import cocaine into California.  His investigation not only threatened to ruin his career, but also his life and the life of his family.  The film also stars Rosemarie DeWitt, Ray Liotta, Barry Pepper, Michael Sheen, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Oliver Platt, Andy Garcia, Tim Blake Nelson, Robert Patrick, Michael Kenneth Williams, and Paz Vega.  For more on Kill the Messenger (which I thought was really well done), watch the trailer.

Last week I sat down with Michael Cuesta for an extended video interview.  He talked about balancing fact and fiction while bringing this story to the screen, his first cut, deleted scenes, working with Renner, his alternate opening, two possible future projects (one centers on CIA policy during the Beirut bombings that he compares to Catch-22 and Three Kings, and the other is an action-thriller about an American terrorist) and more.  Hit the jump to watch.

Michael Cuesta:

  • Cuesta compares his TV experience to movie experience.
  • 2:00 – Discusses how to balance telling a real story with moviemaking.
  • 5:40 – The first cut was only about 10 minutes longer than 112-minute theatrical cut.  Talks about deleted scenes.
  • 7:20 – Talks about working with Renner on 12 and Holding and a pilot before Kill the Messenger.
  • 9:30 – Discusses a scene in the middle of the film that was difficult to edit.
  • 10:30 – Cuesta moved the original opening shot because it took the audience too away from the version of the story he wanted to tell.
  • 12:55 – Talks two possible projects.  One centers on CIA policy during the Beirut bombings, which he compares to Catch-22 and Three Kings.  The other is an action-thriller about an American terrorist.


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