I was fortunate enough to watch a Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2014 Australian film called Predestination. This science fiction story is about time travel and it was written and directed by Spierig brothers, Michael and Peter. The film is based on a short story called “All You Zombies” written by Robert A. Heinlein and stars Ethan Hawke, as a Temporal Agent (time cop) on the search for a terrorist known as the Fizzle Bomber. Noah Taylor plays Mr. Robertson, the head of the Temporal Bureau and, the fabulous Sarah Snook plays a male writer named John. Using the pen name of “Unmarried Mother”, John is famous for writing confessional testimonials in a magazine. Sarah Snook gets to play two different versions of her character, starting out as female and ending up as a male. Sound confusing? Thanks to the wonderful acting of the two main stars, I was able to keep up to all the time jumps and gender switches. I was very excited to speak with Sarah Snook about her role in Predestination.
Marie Gilbert: Hi Sarah. I watched the film and thought it was amazing. You were absolutely wonderful in the film. What made you decide to do this film?
Sarah Snook: First of all, the script. It is just an amazing story and it was something that I was excited about doing. It’s a time travel story that I had never seen before.
Marie Gilbert: Did you ever do science fictions movies before this film?
Sarah Snook: No, it was my first.
Marie Gilbert: What was really interesting about this film is that you had to play both a female and male part. Was that hard to do because you were playing the same person?
Sarah Snook: You actually hit the nail on the head. She eventually becomes a male, but she never wasn’t a male or wasn’t a female. The thing is that it’s still Jane and when she’s John, she still feels like she doesn’t fit in and, that’s exactly how Jane felt. She never fit in and never knew why. Later she finds out why but in this instance it doesn’t give any salvable elucidation.
Marie Gilbert: It was very surprising what happens in the story because I’m feeling so sorry for Jane and what happens to her, then she has to adjust to becoming John, but the tie in with Ethan Hawke’s character really blew my mind. His character was you. What was the hardest part of doing your character? Both of us are laughing.
Sarah Snook: The hardest part was getting the tone right and to make sure that I wasn’t making fun of anyone. I didn’t want to be disrespectful to people who have gender positive identities or they’re not sure of their gender or they’re searching for their gender. I was making sure I wasn’t being offensive and I’m grateful for that. I also wanted to be true to what the character’s journey was and, as you noticed, that was a hard journey to match because you can’t give away too much in the beginning that you are going to be Ethan Hawke in the end. So, I believe that was the hardest part, not giving away too much too early in the film.
Marie Gilbert: When you were doing the script, did you catch yourself saying, “Oh, wait, I’m not Jane, I am John now?” (both of us laughing)
Sarah Snook: A little bit. I mean, I did have to map it out very stringently. I had to make sure I knew what gender I was and which era I was in and what had happened before in terms of direct chronology, time chronology, because that can change, but you yourself are the only thing that is constant so, what has happened to you and your memory up to that point. It is kind of interesting when you find out what happens to John afterwards. John is the only constant, but he’s also the only one that’s been moved around so much.
Marie Gilbert: John has to remember what’s going on with the time travel.
Sarah Snook: Yeah, he’s the only one that has the full memory of what’s he has done or what he is going to do. In the bar, when Ethan is asking all those questions, he knows the answers because it was him. Part of that is finding the reason that he asked and, in the end, each of those characters is in love with their pre manifestation of themselves.
Marie Gilbert: That was the startling part, the time travel and the fact that John makes love to himself (Jane) and he knows it.
Sarah Snook: Right and, he can’t help it.
Marie Gilbert: I watched the film twice because it was so good. What was it like working with Ethan Hawke?
Sarah Snook: It was great. He’s really great and he’s such a generous and enthusiastic person. He was absolutely gung ho about everything and he wanted to make everything better in the film and his part. Coming in, there was none of those pretensions of a superstar or anything like that. He treated everyone like a normal human being.
Marie Gilbert: I really enjoyed Predestination because of how you portrayed both your characters, Jane and as John. What are your plans for the future?
Sarah Snook: Well, thank you. I’m in a film that should be out this year called The Dressmaker with Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth and Judy Davis. I’m also shooting something called Steve Jobs with Danny Boyle in San Francisco. Things are moving like they do and I’m getting used to it all.
Marie Gilbert: The people here in the states are going to be paying attention to you after this interview. I’m not sure if Predestination had premiered over here.
Sarah Snook: It came out to a limited screening and on video demand, but they didn’t push it as much as some people thought they should have. That’s okay. These things happen.
Marie Gilbert: I’m sure that after I post this interview, lots of people will want to watch it and especially watch you. Thank you so much for taking the time for this interview.
Sarah Snook: Thank you and I’m glad that you enjoyed the film.
Predestination is a smartly written film with a twist on time travel and you should rent it.