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Exclusive Interview with Director Robert Luketic for “Paranoia”

Paranoia-posterIn the corporate espionage thriller, Adam Cassidy is a pawn between two corporate bigwigs of opposing telecommunication companies.

The story is based off of Joseph Finder’s best-selling novel “Paranoia.” In this film, director Robert Luketic assembled a very good cast that comprised of Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Amber Heard and Liam Hemsworth as the lead character, Adam Cassidy.

Latino-Review sat down with Luketic for an exclusive interview on press day earlier this month. We talked a lot of about the current events with privacy laws, Internet oversharing and biometrics. There were also movie discussions about the cast, location and certain production challenges such as re-starting the film production of Hemsworth needed to work on “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”

“Paranoia” is in theaters today.

Read or listen to the full interview below.

Latino-Review: What attracted you to this project?

Robert Luketic: I fell in love with the script. My producer sent it to me. It was very topical [and] very relevant. I was starting to wonder at the time where all of our information was going. We were telling everybody what we’re eating and going. That became very interesting to me and that technology was valuable. It was power to start owning that information.

I waswondering on who could play the role of Adam. Someone mentioned Liam Hemsworth and within five minutes of sitting down to talk with him—it became apparent since our minds were both in the same place.

Latino-Review:  Now the book itself, like the one I have here, is a lot different from the script. Was the script similar to the book in the first place or totally changed?

Robert Luketic: The book was written ten years ago. It was essentially about Verizon and AT&T. It was more about telecommunications and its actual devices. The challenge for the writer and the filmmakers was dating it. We kept the essence of the characters were. The characters were essentially in the same structure somewhat. It was what they were dealing with is what we have to wave into the story.

And we made some dramatic licenses to it. A novel is very dense. It was hard to adapt. We showed the move to the author and he’s very happy. So that’s all it matters.

Latino-Review: I mean like even with the beginning scene in the movie where he goes to a night club and spends a lot of money—the book was about the character playing a prank on a job that he hated. And there’s also a [moment] in the book that the father technically died or something?

Robert Luketic: And Emma was one of the bad guys. Well, she turns out to be. Yes, there’s a quite a bit of…’re very good. You picked up on all of that.

Latino-Review: I try to do my homework.

Robert Luketic: We like Latino-Review journalists. They do their homework. [Laughter]

Latino-Review: So fans of the book of “Paranoia” when they watch this movie it will be totally different.

Robert Luketic: It is significantly different, yes. You’ll understand who Jock Goddard is. You’ll understand who the characters are. The characters are essentially the same. It’s the plot that we’ve taken some licenses with. I don’t think it’ll be a completely different experience. But, it will be a more updated and more relevant version if you would.

Latino-Review: Let’s talk about technology, because technology is the prime focus in this movie. I noticed there are two types of technology you tried to portray. One of them is over the issues of privacy with sharing information with Facebook, with Instragram, with Twitter and everything else. There’s nothing a secret anymore. Could you talk a little bit about that especially on how that is so relevant in the world today?

Robert Luketic: There some breaking news on CNN with these companies that will buy these information. Everything you Tweet on whether you’re a male; you’re a female; where you like to eat; or what you like to buy. Some large department store recently invented a system in which it tracks your phone and draws lines around the store on where you walked. Women will walk mostly to the left and stop at this counter. This is all the information that people willing to pay money for to understand us.

What I worry about is if this information gets into the wrong hands. You don’t want to tell people that you’re away on a holiday. You don’t want to publicly Tweet that out to the world. “Hey! I’m going on vacation for the next month.” And then you put it on Facebook so everyone knows that no one is at your house.

I think we overshare. We are a culture of sharing. I think that’s the direct result of the technology. We’re addicted to information. Right away. I need to know what you just ate for lunch. I don’t care really. Stop cluttering up the feed with all that nonsense.

Latino-Review: It’s kind of ironic since technology is a blessing and a curse at the same time. For you to promote “Paranoia,” they gave me a card saying, “Don’t forget to be friends with us on Twitter, on Facebook, and on YouTube.”

Robert Luketic: That’s for marketing purposes. I think that’s fine. We need it.

I don’t think the systems are developed to cope with the issues of privacy yet. The technologies are coming so fast and so rapidly. There are so many choices to make now. You don’t think twice about Tweeting and Facebooking. With credit card companies and their billions of dollars invested [into technologies] can still be bypassed. Governments can still be bypassed.

I don’t think we spent enough time protecting that. If I knew that my data is protected, then I’ll put everything out there. I’ll put it all up in the Cloud and leave it there. I can access it all the time. I know deep down since we have consultants on this movie tell us—that someone could turn on my phone anytime using a security weakness with blue tooth. That’s the biggest security weakness we have. They can take all of my photos, my contact lists and anything else they decide that they want to take. I think that’s a very scary thought.

Everything we did in the movie is to try to make everything as real as possible. All the technologies you’ve seen in the movie exist, on the drawing or it’s possible. Some of them are being used today by hackers, spies or whoever you want to call them.

Latino-Review: Speaking of that, we’re talking about the paranoia of oversharing. Now we’re talking about the security. I remembered 15 years ago when I was a business journalist, I used to talk to security companies about biometrics. They talked about eye scanners, handprints and thumbprints. This week tech reports claimed that the next iPhone will have biometrics. The new iPhone will do a thumb scanner instead of a pass code. The new iPad will have an eye scanner. That’s the rumor right now. Is this how we should push ourselves to? Either oversharing or completely protect ourselves?

Robert Luketic: I love the idea of that. Then you have an option. For me, it’s important for a person who’s buying the damn thing—an option! You could be a big sharer and put it all [out there]. But, what about us who want to keep it private? There is something that we want to keep to ourselves. And you should have that right.

For fingerprints, there are no two alike in the world. That’s a great idea. There’s nothing more identifying or more definite than a fingerprint or retina scanner. That’s exciting. I will certainly signing up for that.

Latino-Review: I think that’s actually funny. I just see Apple products all over your movie. And we’re talking about the biometrics from Apple.

Robert Luketic: Right. These companies [in the movie] are making cell phones and not making computers. We didn’t just want to cover the Apple and make it generic computer. I’m sure there are Apple computers at Microsoft or vice versa. I’m sure people will use on what they want to use. Whatever works for you.

Latino-Review: That’s true. Let’s talk about the cast. You have a very powerful cast. You have Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman and you spoke a little bit about Liam. What made you decide to bring all these guys together in this one powerful movie?

Robert Luketic: We wanted to know who would be the best. First piece of the puzzle was Liam. We wanted somebody who wasn’t too overexposed yet. [Someone] who has innocence about him. And someone who didn’t grew up with all these fancy cars and trappings. It’s someone who’s still connected to normalcy. [He is] still connected to be a normal kid. He is that. He’s very fresh. He’s very talented. He had that initial thing we were looking for.

Once that piece is put together, we started talking to Harrison. Once Harrison was starting to engage in the script, then it was Gary Oldman. It was interesting, because the last time they saw each other was twenty years ago when Harrison pushed him out of an airplane.

Latino-Review: Yeah. And that was an action film.

Robert Luketic: That was an action film. There was a thought of bringing them back together. These are two iconic adversaries were interesting.

Richard Dreyfuss [came on board], because I watched “The Graduate” a week before I was going to cast that role. I remembered seeing him with two lines with a walk-on role. It’s probably the first thing he ever done in Hollywood. He said his two lines and then I said, “Let’s rewind that. Is that Richard Dreyfuss?” He was a young fresh face kid. So he was kind of in my mind. I wanted someone to be Liam’s father and be warm. [He should] be able to convey the Brooklyn working class kind of man. He’s a good person. He wants to do the right thing. He brought his son up the right way.

This cast came together very fast. It wasn’t one of those casting that takes so long. This was just boom and boom. People pretty much were targeted and came on right away. It was a dream. And plus for Harrison, I was a fan since I was this high. I grew up on Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. I adored Steven Spielberg. It was it was great to have both Harrison Ford and Richard Dreyfuss working with me. In between shots while setting up, I could ask them questions. It was pretty cool.

Latino-Review: I liked the fact that you had the veterans of Hollywood alongside with the up-and-coming stars.

Robert Luketic: Yeah, like Amber [Heard] and Liam. Harrison was pretty much a mentor on set. Harrison said on the first day of shooting, “You know what? I like this kid. He can do it.” That’s cool. It’s great to watch them work. They’re very generous to each other.

None of the cast was selfish. They were all really into the movie. They wanted to be there.

Latino-Review: What was the greatest challenge in the production since so much has changed?

Robert Luketic: The biggest challenge for the production was that we had a limited budget. We had limited time. For Liam, we had to stop filming in the middle of the shoot. Liam had to go away and film “The Hunger Games 2.” And we had to restart again. We started in the summer and then restarted again in the winter.

It was a weird production in that way. Everything was shut down. And then we all come back. That was very challenging to get everything back and running. [It was hard to] locate things like a prop especially one that was in storage for three months such as the characters’ phones. That was very challenging.

And we had to find a lot of locations. We didn’t really build anything. Everything had to be pre-existing or close to being a finished set.

Latino-Review: So try to make it look like on what and how the other side lived?

Robert Luketic: Exactly. We had to get going to real places in Philadelphia, because the movie was shot there. We got one day in New York, which was Harrison Ford’s office with the great view in the back. And I did some helicopter stuff. That’s how we sell it as New York. That’s a challenge.

As much as downtown Philly looks like New York, there are still little differences. There are cabs, street signs, and things you still have to change.

Latino-Review: Out of all the cities, why Philadelphia?

Robert Luketic: Very practical. It’s the honest answer. We got an incredible tax rebate on every dollar we spent. It’s twenty or thirty percent back…..whatever that is. That allows the budget to be a little bit bigger.

I wonder what it would be like to be one of these filmmakers who would have no limits. I wonder what it would be like to be incredibly free like that and I wonder what kind of movie I would make.

Latino-Review: That’s true. What kind of future projects will you be working for and will you ever return to those romantic comedies?

Robert Luketic: No. [Laughter] Not for right now. I’m going to be workingon a movie with Brett Ratner, who is producing and set in Moscow. It’s an espionage thriller. It’s really cool.

And there are a couple of other movies in development, but right now…..nothing romantic on the horizon. Just for a while, this is my phase I’m going through. I refuse to be doing the same things for the rest of my life. I know that people in Hollywood don’t like that, but that’s what I want to do.

Latino-Review: Okay, thank you very much.

Robert Luketic: Thanks, man.

“Paranioa” is out in theaters today.

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