The film’s sense of violence also ensures that the pain is real, making you aware of every hard surface inside a bus. Bob’s big bus scene reminds me of how Jackie Chan mixes the stakes of pain with comedy.
I’m going to pass this on to Bob, because he’s his all-time favorite action hero, Jackie Chan.
Did you mention Jackie Chan? How have your discussions helped your collaboration?
Look, we had a lot of time to talk before we went into production on this movie. It was delayed from 2018 to 2019, so we had time to work on the script, talk, watch movies. You know directors usually go to America and say, “I hate this! They sucked my creativity! “Bullshit, I had a great time. We had the right budget, the right filmmakers, the right producers, the right stars. He just clicked.
The thing I threw at [writer Derek Kolstad], and it’s pre- “Parasite,” and I think I mentioned it to the producers later, but I said, “It’s a South Korean thriller, made in America by a Russian director.” If you look [“Nobody”] in the first third, it is very South Korean in nature. A faster pace, but in terms of character development, it’s like “Bittersweet Life,” a movie that I showed, and a great character-driven action movie. There are some good movies that have action.
My plan with [“Nobody”] is that we start with very dramatic, desaturated colors, of that very boring, controlled, but controlled sort of way. Very common. And then we ramp up, and at the end we turn brightly, bullets are flying everywhere, just utter ridiculous. Hence the reason why Christopher Lloyd has this line, “excessive but glorious”. This is what it is. If you watch the last action scene and cut it with the start of the movie, it just doesn’t make sense.
When we were doing comedy it was very easy for Bob to get into the comedy business because Bob is the master of it. But at first it was like, we’re going to play straight, we’re going to have some humor, but the humor is going to be situational. It’s going to be sweet, because a laugh during a bloody scene turns the laughter into a laugh, and the violence in the middle of the comedy becomes more violent.
How did you want to balance the humor and the pain with this story?
We watched “Die Hard,” in the sense that John McClane is a real character. He hurts himself, he moans, and not only does that make him easier to understand and it’s great, but it just makes it more satisfying that he succeeds. He’s not the kind of guy who can take 100 hits to the head and go on. We do the car rollover scene and Bob comes out and says, “I think we’re doing too much. I think it might be a bit too much. And I said, “Bob, the car just tipped over. If we keep this film halfway to the ground, and it’s in the middle, or even close to the third act, we’re allowed. And the public will be with us, if you don’t come out of there like a spring chicken. It’s a f ** king car flip. You should have died. It’s OK.”