Imagine that, just weeks after the record-breaking debut of avatar, James Cameron had a new movie ready to be released. Impossible, right? Well that’s actually what Joseph Kosinskic is about to quit.
Still riding on the rising success of Top Gun: Maverick, who has amassed over $700 million at the box office in just three weeks, Kosinski is already on his way to the next one. Friday drop on Netflix is spider head, the filmmaker’s genre-bending thriller starring Chris Hemsworth, Jurnee Smollett, and rooster himself, Miles Teller.
Kosinski believes that the lesser known about spider head, the better the viewing experience. In short: his adaptation of a George Saunders short story first published in The New Yorker finds convicts Jeff (Teller) and Lizzy (Smollett) living in an isolated prison where inmates have a chance to shorten their sentences by participating in drug trials. Administering these various mind-altering substances is Spiderhead’s mysterious head honcho, Steve Abnesti (Hemsworth).
“I was fascinated by the questions it raises and the morality behind what happened in the story,” says Hemsworth, dazzling in a rare vicious turn. “There were so many layers and complexities in the film, so it was crucial to have Joe, who is so precise and surgical in his process, as the director for this film. He has such a wonderful sense of wonder and fascination with people and situations, and the psychology behind the world we lived in.”
Kosinski managed to stop making movies just enough time to talk about being thankful it wasn’t Kosinski vs. Kosinski will be at the box office, reuniting with Teller for the third time and finding a way to do something with planes in spider head what he couldn’t handle Independent thinking person†
Vanity Fair: You went five years between the release of Only the brave and Independent thinking person— which, barring a pandemic, can be a pretty typical time frame for filmmakers. So how strange does it feel to open two movies within a few weeks of each other?
Joseph Kosinski: I’m sure it will never happen again. I hope not, because that means some kind of interruption has occurred. But hey, it’s five years of work compressed into a month of promotion. The only thing I’m happy about is that the movies are so different and played in different media. Like, thank god that spider head does not compete [with Maverick] for IMAX screens – that would be strange. But they are in completely different media and completely different tones and exercises. So they complement each other in an interesting way for me.
How did spider head came to you, and what drew you into it? I know you signed up well before the pandemic, so it’s not like you just sat at home like the rest of us and thought, Huh, I wonder if there’s a pandemic-friendly movie I can make!
No not at all. In fact, I had read the script before I made it top gun, and there was a moment when i considered doing it spider head first because we weren’t sure when Tom [Cruise] would be done with Mission: Impossible – Fallout. But then Top Gun got together and I ran off and made that.
I got the script and it struck me how unique it was. The tone, the characters just came off the page. From a directorial point of view, getting these performances out of actors was a really interesting challenge. Because, typically, an actor tries to live within the reality of a scene or the context of that scene, and this is a unique project because they often have to play emotions that completely contradict the context because they are motivated by this little bit technology. I thought that was an interesting challenge, both for me and for the actors who would end up playing these roles, and I thought the ideas in there were very current, even though this technology isn’t something that we know is going to be on a large scale. used, the Thematic felt like it raised a lot of issues about our relationship with technology today.