Exclusive Interview: Ethan Hawke And Andrew Niccol Talk Good Kill

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Good Kill

And Ethan, your character is very much about how one deals with this psychologically. How did you prepare for something that demanding?

EH: You’re seeking an emotional truth. Andrew, his preparation was meticulous. He introduced me to two former-drone pilots, it was fun to talk to them. I’ve spent a bunch of time in my life, in other aspects, on military bases and this arena is not entirely foreign to me, although, obviously this part of the air force is totally different. But really, what I was excited by was getting to do a portrait of a soldier that I hadn’t seen before.

You know, we’ve seen tons of World War II movies and stuff, but this is really the forefront of where technology is putting war today. And so people are having to go through these situations right now. They’re involved in mortal combat and yet they’re not in danger. It’s a very particular form of PTSD when you’re not even under attack. But [Egan] has to go fight the Taliban for 12 hours a day and then pick up his kid from school, help him with his math homework, try to be understanding of his wife missing her yoga class, and it’s a particularly new psychological situation to be in. I found it really interesting.

Andrew, when you were writing, was it important to maintain that contrast between being on U.S. soil while still an active combatant?

AN: Oh sure, I love that schizophrenia. That’s what drew me to the story. Because, [for] these guys, it’s just impossible. I mean, some of them do things that you can’t imagine. Some of these younger drone pilots, they’ll sit there with a joystick flying over Yemen, or Waziristan for 12 hours, and they’ll go back to their apartment in Vegas and play video games. I couldn’t even put that in the movie because it’s too outrageous, you know?

EH: It seems like a concept.

AN: It seems like, yeah, something a writer would do.

EH: There’s so many things like that. Like even the way you juxtapose Afghanistan, and the desert of Nevada, it’s so beautiful, because it seems like, “I am there.” And yet, you didn’t make that up.

AN: Exactly, it’s not like it was some sort of writer-ly thing [that] I just chose Vegas. It’s there!

EH: That’s where it’s based.

Once people have seen the film, what are you hoping they’ll take away from it?

AN: I hope they talk about it and they won’t forget it by the time they get to their car. You know, to provoke some sort of thought and discussion, that’s a good thing. I think it will hopefully shed some light on what we’re doing, because it’s very easy to say “yeah, drones, they’re protecting the West,” but you don’t really know.

EH: You don’t really know what you’re talking about. I didn’t know, when I would read about a drone strike, here, there, I didn’t have any context for what that meant, or what it looked like. And I think, hopefully now, people will.

Andrew, as the writer and director, do you think it’s your job to educate people, or capture their interest enough that they go out and educate themselves?

AN: Mostly I’m hoping to tell a good story, first of all. But yeah, if I can shed some light on what’s being done in our name, then that’s a very good thing.

To wrap back around, is there anything coming up in the future you’d like us to know about?

AN: I haven’t decided. When you spend two years of your life devoting yourself to one of these things, it better be worthwhile [laughs].

EH: We’re excited about sharing it with people.

AN: It’ll be interesting to see what the response is.

That concludes our interview, but we’d like to thank both Andrew and Ethan for speaking with us. Be sure to catch Good Kill when it hits theatres this Friday.

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