How ‘Drunk History’ Influenced the Ethan Hawke ‘Tesla’ Movie

     February 6, 2020

Twenty years after premiering Hamlet together at Sundance, Kyle MacLachlan and writer-director Michael Almereyda return to the festival with their new movie, Tesla. Ethan Hawke leads this one as the title character, Nikola Tesla. This interpretation of Tesla’s story is narrated by Eve Hewson’s character Anne Morgan, J.P. Morgan’s daughter. As described in the film’s official Sundance synopsis, Tesla “fights an uphill battle to bring his revolutionary electrical system to fruition. Increasingly displeased by the greed of fellow inventor Thomas Edison (Kyle MacLachlan), Tesla forges his own virtuous but arduous path toward creating the innovative alternate-current motor.”

While in Park City for Tesla’s world premiere, Almereyda, MacLachlan, Hewson and Jim Gaffigan who plays captain of industry George Westinghouse all swung by the Collider Studio at the Kia Supper Suite to talk about their experience making the film. We covered the big difference between the script that was first optioned in the 80s and the final film, what it was like for Hewson to serve as the narrator, the team’s experience working with Hawke on the project, and so much more. You can catch the full conversation in the video interview at the top of this article. 

kia-supper-suite-marbl-toronto-logo-sundance-2020Finally, I’d like to give special thanks to our Collider Studio Presenting Partner, the Kia Telluride SUV, the 2020 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year. Additional thanks to support sponsors Glenfiddich Scotch, Peroni Beer, Marbl Toronto, mou footwear, ic! berlin sunglasses and clothing lines, Laundry by Sheli Segal and Orginal Penguin.

Jim Gaffigan, Michael Almereyda, Eve Hewson, Kyle MacLachlan:

  • 00:20 – Having a history at the Sundance Film Festival and why it was important to return to the festival with Tesla.
  • 01:27 – Why this interpretation of Nikola Tesla’s story is different from anything we’ve seen before.
  • 02:10 – What’s the biggest difference between the version of the script that was optioned in the 80s and what we’ll see on screen now?
  • 02:30 – Hewson’s role in the film and why it was so instrumental to telling this story.
  • 03:50 – How Hewson serves as a narrator for the film; the challenge of talking to camera.

    tesla-ethan-hawke

    Image via Sundance

  • 04:53 – Is it nerve-racking for Gaffigan and MacLachlan to play titans in this movie?
  • 05:50 – As part of a big ensemble, what are they looking forward to seeing in the finished film that they didn’t get to experience on set?
  • 06:21 – Is there anything about Hawke’s approach to his role that surprised them?
  • 07:28 – Did they stick to the script?
  • 08:15 – The benefit of making an independent film; everyone is there for the right reason.
  • 09:13 – Who’s the unsung hero of Tesla?

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