M. Night Shyamalan talks Split spoilers, including a tease of what’s to come!
Did you catch M. Night Shyamalan‘s latest on the big screen this weekend? If not, read on at your own risk as we’re about to dive into Split spoilers! ComingSoon.net recently sat down with Shyamalan himself for a look at what went into bringing Split to the big screen and what that twist ending means for the future!
A Universal Pictures release, Split stars James McAvoy as Kevin, a troubled young man who, manifesting 23 different distinct personalities, is compelled to abduct three teenage girls and hold them for the coming of a 24th identity.
In the final scene, a news report explains the extraordinary story and dubs Kevin “The Horde.” In a coffee shop, the nickname reminds a woman of another strange criminal to whom the media gave a name, but she can’t quite recall what it was.
Does that ending mean a potential showdown between Dunn and The Horde could be on the way to the big screen? Shyamalan says he has “one more” film potentially on the way and teases what it could involve.
CS: When you were tackling the script for Split, were you thinking about potential actors at that point?
M. Night Shyamalan: I do! As I’m writing it, I have ideas in my head. For this one, the idea was moving as I was writing it. It’s going one way and, as soon as I add, “He has to crawl on walls,” it becomes, “Wait, I can’t see him doing that.” Or, “He has to play a little kid,” and I went, “That doesn’t work with that person.” On this particular movie, I had to throw it out, writing for a particular person. It started that way but as soon as I got an idea in my head, I had to throw it out. Then, when it was done, I was like, “Who would say yes to this?” The actor that can do this needs to be world class, so you’re already going to know them. They’re grown men and for this band width, we know them. Who could do that this isn’t so or so playing this. Who can actually make you forget? Man, when I think about what might have happened if he wasn’t available. If he didn’t walk by me that day. It’s scary.
CS: There are so many interesting bits of physicalization from James McAvoy. How specific do you get as a director in little intricacies like that?
Shyamalan: He’s the perfect foil for me. I’m super prescriptive. I’ve never really had this, but I can imagine that it could be suffocating for someone used to being more extemporaneous. He is that way and we had the perfect marriage of the two. He didn’t stray from a single line or word, but he’s so physical an actor that he found amazing ways to be spontaneous and say things like, “Asian people’s music aides digestion” over his shoulder. When we found that common ground that we could ignite when Hedwig has a slight lisp and Patricia was British. He’s such a physical actor and that stage training is a big deal. I hold stage actors as the highest form of acting for me. That’s the pinnacle.
CS: Because audiences identify you with twists endings, do you have to anticipate how an audience is going to react to you uniquely in telling a story?
Shyamalan: There’s definitely a chess match, but it’s a healthy one for me. This is a style of storytelling. I find all great storytelling has this. It doesn’t need to be so identified in this manner. The ending of Kramer Versus Kramer is surprising to me. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the ending of Planet of the Apes or Psycho or something like that. All great storytelling for me is unexpected. I like knowing the characters so deeply that I go, “What is the format for telling that character’s story the best? What is the best structure for telling that story?” If he’s a police officer who’s corrupt, how do I tell you that? Do I not tell you that the whole movie and reveal it at the end or do I immediately tell you he’s corrupt and undo it? Do I point to someone else the whole time? There’s a million ways to tell a character’s story. I’m very fascinated just by the form of telling a story. That’s what’s so great for me about Split. It’s so not where you think I’m going to go with it as far as the very, very, very end. The idea was making two things. One was making an unorthodox sequel to a movie and not telling you. Not marketing it that way. This was an idea I had in my head. Could I get a studio to do this? To not reference and not say anything and just tell a separate story and let that happen after the case. Then the other idea was to do a thriller that’s actually an origin story but that you don’t know is an origin story until the last moment. We’re watching the beginning of this incredible character. That was the format for me. How do I do that? I have to make the thriller good enough on its own so that, when you get to the ending, it’s the version of the spider biting him. It’s also like going, “Where are we in this story?” The movie’s going and you’re seeing an arc of structure to the end but, when you see the end, you realize that it was just the end of the first act. It’s really super fun thinking like that.
CS: Was it something that you thought was fun to do for this movie or will we see more?
Shyamalan: I have every intention of doing one more. I can’t guarantee it, because I’m a writer and I don’t really write for other people. The only reason I can’t guarantee it is, because I don’t know what the demons are going to do when I get into the room. They may shut me down. They may not come out. I think the reason I’ve never done a sequel and never even been interested is because I don’t like knowing. I want to tell you a new story each time. I don’t know if those things are going to grab me and freeze me, but I have every intention of doing that. I’m hoping I don’t freeze up.
CS: Because being “broken” in Kevin’s eyes gives Casey an advantage, it’s already an interesting dynamic to have him face off against someone unbreakable.
Shyamalan: It’s all about the marginalized people in our society becoming empowered in this world. I think the Unbreakable world is about finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. That’s kind of Elijah’s thesis. That excites me when we’re talking about maybe another one. What would Elijah’s reaction be to Kevin Wendell Crumb? He’s be like, “I knew it!” (laughs)
CS: Has your view on comic books changed at all now that it has become such a big part of pop culture?
Shyamalan: It’s funny. It’s astounding what has happened from when I did “Unbreakable” to now. It was not a viable thing to make a movie about comic books. It was a very marginalized thing and it was seen as too niche. You can’t get a general population to come to something like that. But now it has been almost 15 years of nothing but comic book movies. I find that really interesting when it comes to writing a final movie. I think these are as much about comic books as they are comic book movies. What are the things that inspired comic book writers?
(Photo Credit: Oscar Gonzalez / WENN.com)