About two years ago, I caught director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s The Current War when it world premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Even though the performances were great, and the production design and cinematography were fantastic, it just didn’t all come together for me. And I was not alone. Most people had some issues with the film while praising parts of it.
While The Current War had a scheduled release date of late 2017, it was owned by the The Weinstein Company and they were having issues, as we all know, stemming from the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Soon after, the film found itself without a home. Earlier this year, 101 Studios got a hold of the distribution rights and since that TIFF premiere, Gomez-Rejon recut the film and also filmed new scenes for what he’s calling The Current War: Director’s Cut. I’m not entirely sure what he did, but I can tell you it absolutely changed the film for the better. Whatever issues I had in the past with The Current War have been solved and the film flows so much better. You can even read Collider’s own Matt Goldberg singing the praises of this new cut.
If you’re not familiar with The Current War, the film is about the race to provide electricity to the world in the late 1800s and follows the biggest inventors and entrepreneurs of the era: George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon), Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch), and Nikolai Tesla (Nicholas Hoult). When electricity was first created, there was a lot of debate between AC and DC currents and which one was the safer option and easier to install. The cutthroat competition between the biggest companies of the time was one of the greatest corporate feuds in American history. For his part, Gomez-Rejon does a great job showcasing the behind-the-scenes drama by weaving the personal costs for all involved with their desire to win the race. The film also stars Katherine Waterston, Tom Holland, Tuppence Middleton, and Matthew Macfadyen.
With The Current War: Director’s Cut now playing in theaters, I recently sat down with Alfonso Gomez-Rejon for an extended interview at the Collider studio. He talked about the difficult process of getting the re-cut film into theaters, shooting the spectacular opening scene of Edison’s field of lights, how this new version of the film is different, landing this spectacular cast, his journey from an intern to a second unit director and working with some very big names, the production design and how he captured the spirit of the time, and a lot more. In addition, he talked about helming the pilot of Amazon’s new Nazi-hunting series.
Check out what he had to say in the player above and below is exactly what we talked about.
- The difficult process of getting the re-cut film into theaters.
- What it’s really about—its characters and themes, and its relevance as it relates to modern day technological advancements.
- How did he get this cast together?
As a relatively new filmmaker, what’s it like to sit down with someone like Michael Shannon, knowing you want him to say ‘yes’ to your movie?
- The production design and how he captured the spirit of the time.
- Shooting the spectacular opening scene of Edison’s field of lights.
- The rush to show the film at the Toronto International Film Festival, what was different/worse about that version, and the editing process.
- What new scenes did he shoot for the re-cut version?
- Was there a scene that he was sad to have to cut?
- His journey from an intern to a second unit director, and working with some very big names.
- Is there a trait that he gleaned from some of the great filmmakers he worked with and admired?
- How he got involved in directing the pilot of Amazon’s new Nazi-hunting series.
- What’s he been working on since wrapping that series?
- The urge to tweak a movie all the way up to its release.