It’s time to get to know The Stranger director, Veena Sud! While on an episode of Collider Ladies Night, Sud went into detail on crafting a story for the Quibi platform, using the Turnstyle technology and developing an antagonist who’s an especially smart and troubled psychopath with Dane DeHaan. In the series, DeHaan plays Carl E., a guy who becomes obsessed with playing god in a sense by using algorithms to predict behavior. The target of Carl E.’s latest experiment? Maika Monroe’s Clare, an aspiring writer who’s new to Los Angeles.
In addition to talking The Stranger, we also spent a good deal of time going back to the very beginning when Sud was first introduced to one of her greatest influences, Alfred Hitchcock.
“You know, it was my parents. They had no filter in terms of what we were allowed to watch at any age, and so at a very young age, I was watching probably material a four-year-old should not be watching. And Hitchcock was really my first influence. My parents were huge fans of Hitchcock, watched everything and so four-year-old me got to as well! I was a little bit older when I watched Psycho – not that much older – and it was traumatizing. [Laughs] But it also instilled in me a great love of story, cinematography. You know the shot of Janet Leigh’s eye and the drain, I’ll never forget. It was seared into my brain. The whole idea that a picture says 1,000 words was so clear to me as a young child. That started a whole journey of collecting photographs, of looking at photography, of watching film.”
Given the fact that Sud has such a strong connection to Hitchcock and that this is an industry that loves rebooting and remaking the classics, I had to ask Sud if she’d have any interest remaking a Hitchcock film. Here’s what she said:
“I think the classic Hitchcock I would love to take a whack at, and Gus Van Sant did that in I think it was 2000, Psycho. And it was very interesting in how he reshot it using I think every single frame that Hitchcock shot. Thinking about male toxicity in the film, thinking about misogyny in the film, thinking about killing off a female character in the way she was killed off, the female hero, etc. It would be really interesting to do a feminist take.”
Again, that right there is only the very beginning of Sud’s journey to film, television and The Stranger on Quibi. For more on her experience directing episodes of The Real World, getting to serve as showrunner for the first time on Cold Case, collaborating with Regina King on Seven Seconds, and more, check out the full chat in the video interview at the top of this article. Or, if you’d prefer, we also have the full conversation in podcast form for you below.
- 00:53 – Hitchcock was an early influence; watching Hitchcock movies at a very young age.
- 03:28 – If Sud could put her own spin on a Hitchcock film, what would she choose?
- 04:30 – Why she walked out of her first film class at college; her journey from journalism back to film.
- 06:41 – Sud is well versed in the history of cinema; does she think that’s a necessity for all filmmakers?
- 08:43 – Sud discusses adhering to the curriculum in film school while also finding her own voice.
- 11:20 – Sud looks back on her experience working on The Real World: Back to New York and discusses how that show wound up influencing a key scene in The Killing.
- 16:32 – Getting the opportunity to serve as showrunner for the very first time on Cold Case.
- 18:12 – The importance of casting for a specific quality that’s true for that character.
- 20:10 – Sud looks back on her experience working with Regina King on Seven Seconds.
- 21:40 – What was it about Dane DeHaan that made Sud think he’d be perfect for the role of Carl E. in The Stranger?
- 23:38 – What was it about The Stranger that made it the right story for Sud to tackle next?
- 25:28 – How does Quibi’s Turnstyle technology affect Sud’s visual prep process?
- 28:50 – Sud talks about shooting most of The Stranger on location.
- 31:00 – Sud usually doesn’t use music; why that had to change for The Stranger.
- 32:44 – The choice to have the song “California Dreamin” bookend the series.
- 33:40 – Sud’s draw to really smart psychopaths on screen, like Hannibal Lector.
- 34:40 – How much backstory did Sud develop for Carl E.?
- 36:25 – Has Sud had the opportunity to discuss the finished product with any of her cast?
- 38:04 – Random questions begin! Find out if Sud collects anything, what her on-set vice is, and what movie she’d pick if she could only watch one over and over for the rest of her life.