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Home | Interviews | Interview: Adam Egypt Mortimer (Daniel Isn’t Real)

Interview: Adam Egypt Mortimer (Daniel Isn’t Real)

Director/Writer, Adam Egypt Mortimer (Some Kind of Hate) has a new film out. It is hauntingly beautiful and disturbing in the most incredible way. It shows the human side of what happens to a person who deals with trauma and so much more. Adam took time to talk to Horrornews.net about Daniel Isn’t Real. Check out the interview.

DANIEL ISN’T REAL features Patrick Schwarzenegger (Midnight Sun,”The Long Road Home”), Miles Robbins (Blockers, Halloween), Sasha Lane (HellboyAmerican Honey), Hannah Marks (“Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”Southbound), Mary Stuart Masterson (Fried Green Tomatoes, Some Kind of Wonderful). The film was directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer (Some Kind of Hate, Holidays) who also co-wrote the film with Brian DeLeeuw (Paradise Hills, Some Kind of Hate).”

Adam-Hi Janel

Hi Adam, How are you?

Adam- Good.

I am good. Thanks. I remember the last time we chatted, it was about Some Kind of Hate which is such a great movie too.

Adam- Oh thank you. I appreciate that. I remember talking to you then.

Daniel Isn’t Real is just amazing. I think I watched it about four time now.

Adam- Oh my god, that’s amazing.

Each time I watched it, I took something else away from it. I think it’s a movie that psychiatrist, therapist and doctors should watch also. I don’t think doctors realize some times that they talk to people the way the doctor talks to Luke in the movie.

Adam- It’s funny I am making this movie and I asked my psychiatrist and sort of talked to her about some of the issues in it and I said, does that all sound okay to you? My own psychiatrist signed off on the premise.

I agree. I think they should watch it! I looked up the novel and I want to read it now. Why did you decide to direct this movie?

Adam- It’s interesting, I think you go through different phases of why you’re doing a project and you don’t always know exactly what it’s going to mean in the beginning, so when I first read the book I was taken with the feeling of these little kids in a dark, fantastical sort of world that they created. This world of imagination and I loved how it was a story that started there and then became something that was very adult, emotional, relatable and, intense. But, my starting place was…. It sort of reminded me of Pan’s Labyrinth. Then as I started to work on it and I reread it and worked with Brian on developing the script I realized that on the one hand it was about the struggle that we all have, like every single one of us can feel like we’re trying to be good or trying to be our best self and then we have this demonic force inside of us trying to force us into doing things that aren’t good. I think that’s so relatable and so human. Ultimately when I was thinking about the way it felt and why it was so compelling to me, I was reaching back to when I was the same age as these characters and I had a similar experience with a very close friend of mine that I had known my whole life who went through a disturbing, traumatic sort of mental breakdown. To be around what that felt like and deal with the repercussions of it was such a heavy experience in my life. I wanted to use all of that experience and communicate the truth of how that felt in terms of what this story is about.

I think as I was watching this I think Daniel did want to help Luke, you know ego vs id or good versus evil internally? At first he thought he was helping and Luke felt oh, this “friend” is helping but not so much.

Adam- Yes, I think certainly at the beginning he’s definitely helping him and I think Daniel has a lot of complex character traits. He wants to be in control, he wants to have physical experiences. I was treating them, whether it’s imaginary and real or ego and id, human and demonic. Whatever those things are? I was trying to make sure that you saw that point of view. They have their own desires and that was they were like two young men. Whatever form they really are, I wanted to treat it like the story about a friendship of two nineteen year-olds and what that can look like and then expand on that as it gets crazier and crazier and scarier and scarier. But, that’s sort of like, the ultimate idea was like how do you visualize an interior conflict as if its two people and then how do you treat them like they really are these two nineteen year-old young men in the way those kinds of characters would be in this world together.

Well, it was amazing. You did such a good job with the psychological aspect, the fun and sort of WOW what is happening!? It was intense, the colors, the images, the characters and its sort of the way you would imagine this to happen. The special effects were crazy insane with the faces molding together.

Adam- That transformation scene was one of the most important moments in the movie. We are doing something sort of psychological which is Luke allowing the other aspect of his personality come to the forefront. To visualize that in way that would be physical and horrifying, quite painful.

The intention was there all the way from the beginning, we wanted to make sure Daniel as an apparition would be very physical and very-oriented in the body and like, and he’s part of Luke, part of Luke’s mind and Luke’s brain, his nervous system. To show that kind of physicality in this horrific way. It can feel like when you are going through these extreme issues where you’re not in control of your own personality it can feel this horrifying and so we needed to make sure it was expressed that way. It was a fun challenge to figure out how we would achieve it. It was so important to me to do some of it in a practical way so that we could put the prosthetics on the actors and really glue they’re faces together. To really have them use each other’s bodies as something to react against and fight with. We had each of them in the make-up chair for hours putting these things on.

I loved the movie. I felt overwhelmed for Luke. The ending was emotional. I don’t want to give this away. I have to say that Patrick and Miles are incredible. You are watching Miles turn into Patrick. It was wild. You completely believe they switch. It is wild. They do such a good job.

Adam- We filmed the stuff where Miles goes through the transformation late in the film. They got to go through the whole movie together and they formed personalities around each other. By the time Miles took on that role and as an actor he was excited and wanted to play Daniel but, I thought he would be an exceptional Luke. He watched how Patrick did the character and then he performed his version of Patrick taking over him. It was quite remarkable.

What do you want to say to the people who will be watching this movie?

Adam- I hope the audience takes away the feelings we created. We tried to do something with color, shooting, the vibe and the music. We want you to feel something. I think that’s the most important thing that movies can do. I’m hoping that people understand this theme of empathy because this movie is so dark and it shows such a bleak world both cosmically and emotionally but we focused on empathy which I hope that something people take away from it.

Thank you so much Adam. This movie was perfect and beautiful.

Adam- Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. That really touches me.



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