SPOILER ALERT – The following questions and answers not only won’t make much sense unless you’ve seen the film, but also contain spoilers.
One of you is a fellow who gives up his career for what’s right and the other fellow decides not to. Did you ever consider playing each other’s parts or were you happy with the roles you had?
Peter Sarsgaard: “Doesn’t work like that (laughing).”
Jake Gyllenhaal: “I would much rather be the guy who makes the really good choice. I’d hate to be Peter’s character. Peter sucks (laughing).”
Peter Sarsgaard: “And I was very happy staying close to home, you know.”
Jake Gyllenhaal: “The irony is that most likely in reality we would both make the opposite decisions, I think. I would make the bad choice and he would make the right one. I’m just trying to help you along Peter (laughing).”
Peter Sarsgaard: “I don’t know. I don’t have any defense there. I think the decision my character is faced with is…as the audience you see all the torture, you see all of that stuff, you are the eye in the sky. I mean, if my character had to do what Jake’s character does and watch the torture and watch her husband being tortured, I don’t know if he’d make the same decision he made. But, that’s the way it is. That’s the tricky part of human nature. They don’t pass out tapes to every American and make us all watch torture before we agree on doing rendition. “
Jake Gyllenhaal: “And also, I don’t think if you were to ask the character whether he does the right or the wrong thing, I don’t think that’s what he’d say. I think he’s pretty practical. It’s between what works and doesn’t work.”
Peter Sarsgaard: “He’s the senior aide to a Senator. He’s already…I mean, he’s gone pretty damn far. He’s done a lot. He gives her a good card for a guy who can help her and be on your way.”
The issue of Omar Metwally’s phone call is never explained. Was that deliberate?
Gavin Hood: “It is deliberately because the real issue, and it is not whether this man is guilty or innocent… The movie starts out and you feel he's innocent. Then you feel he's guilty. Then you feel maybe he's innocent but there's the possibility of his guilt. Which means the real question for you to analyze in my mind is whether the process of Extraordinary Rendition is good, regardless of guilt or innocence. That's why it was so important for us to [leave a doubt], even a small one, he might possibly be guilty.
We based that on things that Ben will tell you about people who have been rendered, based on a phone call from phones handed to people who've handed to people who've handed to people. So we drew that out of reality, which is we've got all this sophisticated monitoring equipment tracking one call except you don't necessarily monitor whose hand it's in at the time of the call. Because these guys do hand phones off and hands phone off, so the ultimate question that you're left with I hope is, ‘Let's assume he's guilty.’
Some people were mad at us because, one guy was very mad at me in a screening because he was so pleased when the guy was guilty. He wanted the movie to end with him being guilty so that you would have to confront the question of torture, even if the guy is guilty. That's why we left it open. I'm not explaining that really well, but the question, it's easy to discuss it if he's totally innocent. Well, what if he's not? Now how do you feel about torture?”
We’re not sure that he wasn't guilty.
Gavin Hood: “Good. I'm delighted. Then you're left to ask the question: Do I still think the rendition program and the absence of judicial oversight and the act of right of access to a lawyer is a good thing? Is it? We give murderers lawyers. We give potential rapists, we give child abusers lawyers. What's with this notion the guy who might be a terrorist, that we just suddenly strip everything away and we end up with thousands of people in Guantanamo who we now don't know what to do with because we've stripped them? It's just we're in a judicial mess and we've got to sort out that judicial mess. Whatever our point of view about torture is, we can't become a lawless society.”