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Interview with Writer/Director Richard Kelly

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Donnie Darko Richard Kelly

Jake Gyllenhaal and writer/director Richard Kelly on the set of "Donnie Darko."

Newmarket Films
I always try to maintain a professional demeanor while working, but there are some interview opportunities that get the best of me. I revert to playing the part of a fan, and openly gush over a filmmaker’s work. Such was the case with my second interview with “Donnie Darko” writer/director/creative genius, Richard Kelly. Normally I’d stay away from pouring on the praise, but “Donnie Darko” was such an extraordinary rookie effort that I reverted, briefly, to just being a movie fan while telling Kelly how much I loved his film.

In response to the “Donnie Darko” fans who bombarded me with emails after the Richard Kelly “Donnie Darko” Q&A article, Kelly agreed to a second interview to discuss the “Donnie Darko: The Director’s Cut” and his other numerous upcoming and potential projects including “The Box,” “Knowing,” “Cat’s Cradle,” “House at the End of the Street,” “Domino,” “Bessie,” “Southland Tales,” and “Into the Great Wide Open.”

RICHARD KELLY INTERVIEW:

Will the Director’s Cut of "Donnie Darko" generate more questions, or explain things to a greater degree?
I think it’s going to be a pretty substantially new version of the film. I mean, I think it’s certainly going to clarify a lot of things for the audience but it’s also going to, I hope, expand the meaning of the film, not only in terms of answers, but also in terms of new questions.

New questions? Just what you need…
There are always questions (laughing). I think the film is designed that way to provoke an audience to think. There’s no way for it to exist in any other way. I think that the “Director’s Cut” will provide a lot of answers and also create some new questions (laughing).

Do you think some of the questions will be answered in such a way that hardcore “Donnie Darko” fans will get upset their interpretations are different than yours?
Ultimately, it’s called the “Director’s Cut” so it’s going to be delving into more of my interpretation of the film. I think that this is all based upon what was originally intended and the kind of material that I was forced to delete from the film when initially the film was first going to be distributed. People weren’t sure if the film was ever going to connect with the audience. The consensus was that the film was not going to connect with an audience, it was going to be very inaccessible, and the best thing to do was to remove as much material as possible to try and make the film as tight and quick as possible.

I feel some of the meaning was compromised. I hope, with this new edition, that I finally get my ideal version of the film out there – and just hope for the best. If people dislike it for whatever reason, or don’t like what I’ve done, there’s always the other version they can watch. I’m just glad for the opportunity to be able to do this, really.

What do you feel was the biggest compromise you had to make?
I think that a lot of the additional music I wanted in the film we weren’t able to afford. After Sundance, there was a feeling as though the film was too much of a risk to invest any more money in. We had a lot of additional pop music in the film that we started having to cut out just because the distributors weren’t going to spend the money to pay for the music that we wanted.

I think that when you see the film with the original music, it’s going to really enhance the experience because the song selections are very specific. We are hoping to be able to put it all back. It will [contain] a significant number of new songs. That’s in terms of the music, but there are also a lot of the deleted scenes, some of which you can see on the DVD and others that aren’t on the DVD. I really feel [they] help expand a lot of the supporting characters, and help clarify a lot of the plot points in the film that might seem a little ambiguous or vague in its current incarnation. I don’t feel that they in any way take away from the intended ambiguity of the film when it comes to certain ideas. It’s tough to talk about all this because it’s pretty complicated stuff, but it’s part of the original design of what it’s intended to be.

Are you working on the “Director’s Cut” now?
It’s all coming together. Newmarket hasn’t officially announced it yet so I guess it’s not like 100% official, but it’s pretty much a done deal in terms of the negotiations. They are budgeting out everything and working with Bob Bernie at Newmarket figuring out exactly how they intend to distribute the film theatrically, how they want to handle it, and when the release date is going to be. There’s been a lot of preliminary work done but we haven’t actually gone back to the original negatives yet because Bob has to sign off on the release plan.

Page 2: Richard Kelly's Second Film - “Knowing”

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