HERE BE MONSTERS
JODIE FOSTER DIRECTING A NEW THRILLER? IT’S ENOUGH TO MAKE GEORGE CLOONEY DANCE
THERE’S A B-MOVIE PRODUCER SITTING in an office somewhere, surrounded by posters for schlocky films called Swamp Freak and The Asteroid Beast, fuming because he didn’t secure rights to the title Money Monster. Well, he’s missed his chance. And his loss is Jodie Foster’s gain — it’s the title of her next film as director.
Foster’s Money Monster is a thriller told not quite in real-time, but close enough that it’d be churlish to quibble with the description. George Clooney plays Lee Gates, a TV presenter who gives stocks advice on his TV show. After one catastrophically incorrect tip, is held hostage by a viewer who lost all his money.
That viewer is played by Brit-boy-done-good Jack O’connell. And while Foster is pleased Clooney signed on (“That was a crazy happy day,” she said. “A happy dance day.”
Okay, so she’s very pleased), she reserves her greatest praise for O’connell.
“He’s amazing. I’m so proud of him,” she tells us. “It’s an extraordinary performance. He is playing a parcel driver from Queens, and you just believe every second of it. It’s very difficult for anyone to completely transform into a totally different character, one that’s so specific, and it certainly would be for me. But he just is a New Yorker.”
Foster, who doesn’t appear in the film herself, first read the screenplay in 2012, when it was a very different monster. “The original script was much more satirical and tongue-in-cheek, more of a black comedy,” she says. “And once we brought the reality to it, and all the relevance of what’s happening now in the financial markets, it changed the tone.” Think Network meets The Big Short meets Inside Man (in which Foster starred), and you should be on the right path.
This is the fourth film Foster’s directed (a point for each if you remembered Little Man Tate, Home For The Holidays and Mel Gibson puppet dramedy The Beaver), and it’s certainly been the most complicated to pull off.
“Having everything happen in real time, and having a live broadcast with four cameras running, and also having our film cameras, and having all that happening simultaneously. And then having people seeing it all over the world [as the action escalates]?” she says. “The puppet strings of this movie were far more complex than any of the films I’ve been involved in before. Including Contact or any big science-fiction movie. It’s still burning my brain now.”
It’s certainly a far cry from a low-key drama about a man and a hand-puppet. Or a swamp freak and an asteroid beast.
MONEY MONSTER IS OUT ON MAY 27.
1 Clooney as TV tipster Lee Gates, before it all kicks off. 2 And on set with director Jodie Foster. 3 Julia Roberts as Nancy Fenn, director of Lee Gates’ show. 4 Jack O’connell as Kyle Budwell.