Todd Haynes on Why ‘Dark Waters’ Is Vital Viewing & the ‘Erin Brockovich’ Comparison

     November 19, 2019

We’ve got a new film from Todd Haynes hitting theaters nationwide on November 22nd. Dark Waters is inspired by a true story and stars Mark Ruffalo as Rob Bilott, an attorney responsible for exposing a devastating secret being covered up by a mega corporation. Bilott actually worked as an attorney defending Big Chem companies, so when he’s approached by two farmers who suspect DuPont is dumping toxic waste in the area, Bilott’s decision to dig into these allegations becomes an extremely isolating experience that would ultimately consume decades of his life and uncover an epic scandal involving the use of unregulated toxic chemicals.

If you think the story sounds a bit like Erin Brockovich, you’re not wrong, but who could argue with another big screen adaptation of an incredible true David vs. Goliath tale of someone taking on a business behemoth in effort to make the world a better place? In honor of the film’s release, Haynes swung by the Collider Studio to discuss the Erin Brockovich comparison, why Dark Waters got off the ground much faster than most films, the key to creating an exhilarating boardroom scene and loads more.

You can give the full conversation a watch using the video player at the top of this article or a listen using the podcast embed below:

Todd Haynes:

  • 00:35 – There was actually a very quick turnaround on this film; why did this project get off the ground quicker than others?
  • 03:00 – What would Haynes say to someone who’s thinking, “I saw Erin Brockovich; why watch Dark Waters, too?”
  • 05:55 – Was it always the plan for Ruffalo to play Rob Bilott?
  • 06:45 – They surrounded themselves with the real people while making the movie, including the real Rob Bilott.
  • 09:26 – Why it’s perfect timing for Dark Waters.
  • dark-waters-mark-ruffalo

    Image via Focus Features

    11:19 – Condensing decades worth of research into one movie.

  • 12:41 – How they crafted the centerpiece of the film; Ruffalo had to recite pages of dialogue.
  • 15:37 – How to make rifling through papers and boardroom scenes visually stimulating.
  • 17:03 – Haynes discusses a particularly powerful boardroom scene and his choice to move to a wide shot when many might have gone closer.
  • 19:05 – Haynes on working with Participant Media and the good they’re doing for the film industry.
  • 20:47 – If Haynes could observe any director while they work, who would it be and why?

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