From the Vaults: Christopher McQuarrie
The 'Jack Reacher' writer and director discusses 'The Way of the Gun'
By Marjorie Baumgarten, 3:40PM, Fri. Dec. 21, 2012
Back in 2000, writer/director Christopher McQuarrie was in Austin to show his new film, The Way of the Gun, as a fundraiser for the Austin Film Society. Now, 12 years later, his second film as a writer/director – Jack Reacher – has opened. What took so long?
The interview we conducted with McQuarrie in 2000 – "Criminal Conversation" – provides some glimpses of the filmmaker's stumbling blocks when in comes to thriving in Hollywood. Although McQuarrie has worked on plenty of projects as a writer and producer, nothing has come close to his out-of-the gate Oscar win for his screenplay for The Usual Suspects, which was directed by his childhood friend, Bryan Singer.
Despite being the guy who came up with The Usual Suspects character of Keyser Söze – the personification of pure evil – McQuarrie isn't big on black-and-white moral universes. He said during that interview, "Hollywood's answer to violence is not toning down violence but just qualifying it, coming up with reasons for why it's okay to do these things, justifying people's actions. And I thought, 'I'm going to make a movie where there is no apology. I'm never going to tell you who the good guys and the bad guys are.'"
McQuarrie also discussed his process of learning to function like a director. While working on The Way of the Gun, he received the following wake-up call: "Jimmy Caan pulled me aside and said, 'You know what, man? We're actors, and actors like to be told what to do. We require direction. Now quit fucking around and go back to your movie.'" McQuarrie got the message.