Earlier this month, writer/director Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) saw the release of his latest film, Captive State. In it, Earth is taken over by an alien race that become known as Legislators, and humanity is divided between those who see the invaders as saviours and those who seek to free the world from their perceived oppressors. I had the chance to talk to Wyatt about his film, its inspirations and timeliness, and his leading man, John Goodman, who plays the character of worldweary law enforcement office, Mulligan.
On the inspiration for Captive State:
It was never intended to about the current political climate in America. I never set out to to do that. Obviously, populism and the notion of totalitarianism, the reduction of civil liberties in our society, those are all very relevant questions that we are and should be asking, both in great democracies like the United States, also in areas of the world where people do not have the liberties we have. I was really interested by that. I referenced, primarily in the beginning of the writing of this film, the second World War, specifically France and the occupation of the Nazis and the resistance that rose up.
Why Chicago was the setting for Captive State:
Originally we were thinking Boston, I know Boston relatively well. I hadn’t been back for a couple of years, and I went back to scout and I realized how gentrified Boston had become. I was looking for a city that had a little bit more age and history to it, that could represent a little more the global aspect of this invasion. I shot a tv pilot in Chicago and fell in love with it, the people, and it became clear to me when making this tv pilot that to use what to me is thee great American city, and the representation of the alien invasion as a whole that plays out in the microcosms of these particular districts would give it a scale, it wouldn’t feel parochial.
On working with John Goodman:
I worked with him once before on a film called The Gambler and we really hit it off. I liked him a lot, and I like to think he felt the same. When I was writing this, I trying to find an actor that would embody both sides of the character of Mulligan. He’s a man full of contradictions, John Goodman. As an actor you can see that. He’s bombastic, larger than life. Then he can play subtly and nuanced, his timing is extraordinary. He’s an actor’s actor. He’s a character actor. I think he’s a shy man. Maybe shy’s not the right word. He’s reserved. It’s really wonderful to then try and pull that out of the character of Mulligan, who is a grey man. He’s quite invisible. You don’t see him coming. He’s the Trojan Horse.
On any similarities between Captive State and the NBC mini-series V:
I was obsessed with V, but I don’t remember anything about it other than the (mouse being eaten). It was in the days of VHS and I remember burning my VHS tapes to record that show in the UK, but I don’t remember anything particularly other than the gimlet eyes and the rat, for some reason. I didn’t actively go back and watch it for this, because I did a little Google search on it, and I remember the tone of it being quite different. It was very much Reagan’s America, it had more of a network quality to it. I thought, this is not tonally where I’m looking to go with (Captive State), so I didn’t rewatch. It may well be in my subconscious, for sure.
Captive State is currently in theatres. Thanks to Rupert Wyatt for his time.