'Source Code' director inherited love of sci-fi from dad David Bowie
By Gene Triplett
Duncan Jones came by his affinity for science fiction almost naturally, having had it instilled in him by the man who portrayed “The Man Who Fell to Earth” and recorded “Space Oddity” and “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars.”
Jones’ father, David Bowie, is a huge sci-fi aficionado, which doesn’t seem too surprising.
“He was always a warm, supportive guy who was always introducing me to things that he felt passionate and interested in,” Jones said of the man who named him Duncan Zowie Hayward Jones — aka “Zowie Bowie.”
“He was the one who sort of introduced me to a lot of the sci-fi literature that kind of got me started in my love of sci-fi.”
So it’s also not surprising that when Jones became a film director, he launched his career with 2009′s “Moon,” the critically praised story of an astronaut (Sam Rockwell) suffering the dire hallucinatory effects of three years of isolation on the lunar surface.
Sticking with sci-fi
His sophomore effort, “Source Code,” is just as out-of-this-world, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as decorated soldier Capt. Colter Stevens, who finds himself part of a government time-travel experiment that allows him to cross over to an alternate reality and into the identity of another man living the last eight minutes of his life.
The other man, Sean Fentriss, is about to die in a Chicago commuter train explosion that’s already occurred a few hours in the past, and Stevens, in Fentriss’, body has eight minutes to gather clues to the bomber’s identity and help prevent a second terrorist attack in the heart of the city.
In “Groundhog Day” fashion, Colter is forced to relive the incident repeatedly, gathering more clues each time he is zapped into the past, in a race to prevent a second bombing from taking place in the present. In the process, Colter makes a connection with the doomed man’s girlfriend (Michelle Monaghan), who also is fated to die in the explosion.
“I had the opportunity to meet up with Jake Gyllenhaal because he had seen ‘Moon’ and really liked it, and I wanted to find a way to work with him,” Jones told The Oklahoman in a phone interview from Los Angeles last week.
“I had a project I was hoping he’d be interested in and he said, ‘You know what, I have this script I’ve already seen. I think you’d be great for it.’ And he basically gave me ‘Source Code’ to read, and I read it, and I was, like, ‘This is actually really good. And if I can sort of sink my teeth in this, I think between myself and getting the chance to work with Jake, this could be a really fun thing to do.’”
Bringing the humor
Jones found the script by Ben Ripley to be structurally sound, framing a brilliant piece of speculative fiction that followed an intriguing and unpredictable nonlinear course. But he and Gyllenhaal thought it needed something more.
“What Jake and I both wanted to bring to it was a slightly different tone,” he said. “I think the script was quite serious when we read it, and we wanted to find a way to lighten the tone and inject some humor into it. And I think that was really important. … And obviously the ending of the film is something where I kind of added an element, a sort of ‘Twilight Zone’ vibe to the ending of it that wasn’t there in the draft that I read.”
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