Home Movies

Exclusive Interview With Steven Knight On Locke

Locke is the latest film from writer/director Steven Knight, who is perhaps best known for his screenplays for Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises. Starring Tom Hardy, the thriller is also a prime example of minimalist filmmaking, as it takes place almost completely inside a car as Ivan Locke (Hardy) steps away from his job and takes a long drive into London. The reason for this drive becomes clear as the movie goes on, and the ramifications it has on his personal and professional life will be immense.

Locke Tom Hardy 3

When it came to casting the actors who play the people that Locke talks to on the phone, was it any different from casting the actors who appear on screen?

Steven Knight: There was no sense of let’s get the best radio person, because I don’t think there is that distinction. We just naïvely went for the best actors that there are in the UK and because of Tom and because they bought into the concept, all our first choices said yes, which was so unusual. I don’t think they quite knew what they were getting into, but we did five days of rehearsal around a table and then we set off on the road. We put some of Britain’s leading actors into a room with some red wine and biscuits and that was it, and they were there from 9 PM to 4 AM every night just doing their stuff. But they were brilliant. They were really fantastic performances.

Locke has a speakerphone in his car and doesn’t have to hold a cell phone to his ear, and as a California resident I’m so glad to see that because I’m sick of people using their cell phones while driving. But what I find fascinating is how the movie reminds you that while technology can bring us closer together, it can also keep us further apart.

Steven Knight: That’s so true. Part of the reason for making this is just a reflection on the fact that we are now all available to all parts of our life at all times. We don’t know who’s calling next. It could be the kids, it could be the boss and we have to do those gear changes, all of us. When you see who’s calling, you become the person they expect you to be and we all do that. We all act and we all perform. It’s just a feature of modern life which, for me, is a gift because the great thing about people talking on the phone is that their voice says one thing and their face often says something totally different.

How did the idea of this movie come to you? You said that after doing your first film that you want to do something simpler.

Steven Knight: After making a movie in the conventional way, the job at hand here is to get a load of people, put them into the room, turn the lights off and get them to engage with the screen for 90 minutes. That’s what we got to do. Are there other ways of doing that? And I also, in making the first film, had seen beautiful footage from which was basically testing the cameras of lights and motorways from a moving vehicle and I thought that it was lovely. It’s hypnotic. I thought, could that be a theater and then, could we put a play into there? And then I put that to Tom and then I had to think of something that would be very ordinary and every day but, which for ordinary people, would be the end of the world.

In terms of the way you filmed the movie, you used RED cameras. Was there an advantage in using those?

Steven Knight: Yeah, they are small, which is great. They are very light sensitive, too, so you can shoot stars effectively. So that means the road environment looks really good. My only quarrel is every now and then they make a noise, but apart from that they were fine.

About the author

Ben Kenber