Interview: Tze Chun from "Cold Comes the Night"
Director Tze Chun is releasing his new film “Cold Comes the Night” on January 10th in theaters and on VOD. Audiences across the world will be thrilled to watch this new thriller as Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston plays the role of a near blind criminal named Topo who kidnaps and forces a young mother, played by Alice Eve from Star Trek, into collecting his lost money. Tze was gracious enough to tell us here at Movie Room Reviews about his new film and working with Bryan and Alice.
Nick Leyland From Movie Room Reviews: Hi Tze your new movie, "Cold Comes the Night", comes out on January 10th and the title is very fitting for us here in the Midwest.
Tze Chun: It opens in about 20 theaters in I think about 12 cities. And it opens on VOD at the same time, so it'll be on all the major cable providers, and then I should be able to get it on like iTunes and Amazon Instant at the same time.
MRR: So our LA audience and our New York audience should be able to see it in the theaters then, right? I'm guessing.
Tze Chun: Yeah.
MRR: Let's talk about the film a little bit. How would you describe this film for our audience?
Tze Chun: I would describe it as a crime thriller. I would describe it as almost like a throwback, early "Coen Brothers", bag of money thriller. That's how I kinda have been talking about it.
MRR: Now that you say that, I totally agree with you on that because I'm a fan of the Coen brothers as are many people, and this does remind me of that. There's two reasons because one, a lot is left to the imagination, I felt like. Like with Bryan Cranston's character, is Topo... Why was he going blind? What's his back story? He's got this accent and you don't know where he comes from. And also with Alice Eve's character Chloe, how did she get where she is and why? Because the story's basically like a 24-hour period right?
Tze Chun: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
MRR: Why did you choose to do it that way?
Tze Chun: When you're telling a thriller story, I think it helps to have a compressed timeline. Just so that it's a real pressure cooker. And the fact that we had all the events unfolding in the motel and in the surrounding area, we just wanted it to feel like, from the second that Topo shows up, you know that something bad is going to happen. And just horrible things happen to this woman for the next 24 hours.
MRR: Can you talk about the way that you shot the film because there's no explosions or crazy chase scenes. What did you have to do as a director to keep the audience intrigued?
Tze Chun: Well, one of the things that we always talked about with all the departments and including talking to the actors... One of the things that I wanted to make sure that we were all doing was making the same movie. And that movie to me, was a movie that was a genre movie, a crime thriller, it never lost its link with reality and was still motivated by the characters' decisions. And so, in terms of a scale, we're really focused on those three main characters and the way that they conceive each other or align themselves with each other or back-stab each other. And I think that that's one of the things I love so much about the genre of crime noir or crime thrillers, is a lot of them, you don't necessarily need giant explosions or huge action set pieces. A single bullet can change someone's life forever.
MRR: What I found really great about the film is the fact that it was very, very realistic in a lot of ways.
Tze Chun: Yeah, we talked a lot about that. When Alice and Bryan and Logan and I talked about, the type of movie we were making, we wanted to make sure that all of their performances were as kind of naturalistic as possible, as gritty as possible. And then we also made a decision to shoot on location and to use the actual location as well as kind of dressed locations in as realistic a way as possible. Cinematography also, a lot of thrillers have a very stylized look, and we wanted to make sure that, yes, this is going to be scary and it's gonna be thrilling, I guess, but we also wanted to make sure that it didn't lose its link with reality. So in terms of the lighting, there is some stylization to it, but we wanted to make sure it was motivated by real world light sources.
MRR: Well, you wrote and directed the film.
Tze Chun: I actually co-wrote it with a couple guys.
MRR: Oh, you co-wrote the film? That is such a huge part of the film, but another big part of the film, obviously, is the actors, and you've got some good ones. You've got Bryan Cranston who's pretty much on top of his game right now in a lot ways, and this role is similar to the later years of "Breaking Bad" in a way.
Tze Chun: Mm-hmm. When we cast Bryan, I think that it was kind of in the middle of season three of "Breaking Bad". So, as you know, movies take a little bit of time to get made and to come out. And so at the time actually he was kind of in the middle of that transition between Walter White and Heisenberg. But we had talked about him from the very beginning because we've all been fans of "Breaking Bad", of him, and of Vince Gilligan, and the writing, and it was the show that my writing partners and I talked about a lot. So, yeah, when he decided to sign on, it sounded like science fiction to us; we couldn't believe it was happening.
MRR: Do you think he'll ever go back to comedy since he's such an amazing villain?
Tze Chun: I don't know. The thing about it is, he's such a serious character in the movie, but on set, he's one of the funniest people I know, and between takes, he would be cracking up the crew in between every single take.
Tze Chun: And the funny thing is Bryan can slip back into a character in a heartbeat, but the crew had to kind of like get their s&%* together after he'd been making us laugh for like five minutes that they were setting up the next shot.
MRR: Now, the other star of the film, Alice Eve, was a great actress for this role. What made her perfect for this role, and is she as beautiful in real life as she is on the screen?
Tze Chun: Our casting director had sent us the video of her from a movie called "Crossing Over", and in that movie, she plays opposite Ray Liotta, and she holds her own against Ray Liotta. She was young at the time; she was maybe 23 or 24. And I just thought, "Well, who is this young actress who is tough and really holds her own against a pretty intimidating presence?" And, it was really from that that I cast her, and when I saw that, I hadn't realized that she had been the same person even as the woman I had seen in "She's Out Of My League" which is the other movie that she was famous for at the time. And I think we, in terms of exposure, we kind of lucked out, she then went on to do, after she was attached to our movie, she went on to do "Men in Black 3", and "Star Trek Into Darkness". But I think for her, what I liked about her is she obviously has an inner strength, and when I talked to her on the phone, she clearly wanted to do something that is not often offered to her because she is so beautiful. And she really wanted to play against type. The character of Chloe is very stripped down compared to the other characters she's played, and I think she was excited about doing that kind of physical transformation.
Tze Chun: And She's incredibly beautiful, yes.
Tze Chun: I mean we have to put, you have to put so much makeup on her to make her look bad.
MRR: That should be her signature, you gotta put makeup on me to make me look bad. I’m a big fan of the show Louie and I loved how you cast Ursula Parker as the daughter because she melts my heart every time she comes on camera. Does she not?
Tze Chun: She's the best. She's such a weird, funny kid. She's like a little adult. When she's on set, it's very, very funny. She showed up at the audition and I was like, "Oh my God, you're that girl from Louie. Will you say "Oh, I'm bored." And so I kept on having her say, "I'm bored" because my favorite scene is when she's driving with Louie upstate, she kept on saying, "I'm bored." She's so young, she was like ten years old. She's like, "So, is this going to be... I mean do you want me to say the lines on the page or are we going to do more improvisation?". I was like, "Well, whatever you wanna do Ursula." And then she's like, "Great, 'cause I really love improvisation." She's like a real little, like, little person. She's really adorable.
MRR: I think she has a big future ahead of her in my opinion.
Tze Chun: Yes. She's really hard working. She's really smart. I mean she's really very smart for her age.
MRR: Now, fans of you and your films that you've done in the past, how is this film gonna fit in with your previous work?
Tze Chun: It's quite different. I think that there are some themes that run through both "Children of Invention" and "Cold Comes The Night". One thing that people have brought up is that both movies are kind of about people who are desperate and who are living in desperate times, and both movies are kind of about a fall-out from a single opportunistic act. But the first movie that I did was a family drama, an indie drama, and this one is obviously a little bit more of a genre movie, and a bigger movie. So I'm hoping that people who liked the first one, will like the second one. The one thing is that both movies are very much character-driven. So hopefully, if you're a fan of that type of thing, you'll like both movies.
MRR: Cool. Well, the film comes out January 10th in theaters and on VOD on the same day. Besides that, what else can we look forward to seeing from you in the future now?
Tze Chun: I have a couple of other projects with the same producers, and I am, yeah, just plugging away. I just sold a script. And if you look in my IMDb, it's a little confusing. I do TV, and I do writing and directing on the indie side, and I also do writing just by itself without directing. So I'm always trying to work on a few things at once. I think that's the only way to become better at doing what I do.
MRR: Well, congratulations. And our audience is gonna have to go check this out, or stay at home and check it out if they can't check it iout in the theater.
Tze Chun: Yeah. That is perfectly fine with me.
MRR: Yeah. Well, congratulations, and I really enjoyed the film, and I hope it does great things, and good luck to you.
Tze Chun: Alright, great. Thank you so much.