Welcome to The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Chat about Disney’s The Twilight Zone: Scanner Darkly with Chris O’Donnell, where we’ll be discussing everything from the design process to analyzing reviews and gathering reactions from around the web. Before we begin, however, please take a moment to sign up for our free newsletter to get updates on breaking news, top celebrity interviews, and more.

The Full Monty

The first step in the making of any film is the recruitment of the main actors. For Disney’s latest project, the media conglomerate secured some very big names to play pivotal roles in the story of three police officers who moonlight as private investigators. To play the main villain, they turned to one of the biggest names in Hollywood, and in an effort to save on makeup and costume costs, the producers opted for the less-is-more approach, using only his eyes and a mustache to portray Simon Phoenix, the CEO of a massive corporation called the Phoenix Group.

Robert Pattinson was born in London, England, on May 10, 1986, and brought up in Paris, France, where he went to school. He began acting in plays at the age of four and then attended the prestigious Paris Theater School. While the future actor was in Paris, the city was transformed by the 2010s cinema craze, particularly French New Wave cinema, which influenced his decision to pursue a career in film. He made his acting debut in a French television series and also appeared in several films directed by the legendary Peter Bogdanovich, including The Last Mimosa and White Teeth. His performance in The Last Mimosa won him a César Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in 2018.

The Making Of A Masterpiece

Based on the 2006 novel by Richard Price, Disney’s The Twilight Zone: Scanner Darkly is a film adaptation of a post-9/11 paranoid thriller that examines the dark side of technology. The movie focuses on a trio of police officers — two partners (played by Taika Waititi and Ben McKenzie) and a younger officer (played by John Leguizamo) — who are forced to work with a brilliant hacker (played by Bruce Willis) to save their city from a gang of corrupt businessmen. Disney’s chief marketing officer John F. Cahoy called it “a crime thriller with an extraordinary sense of world-building… a complete graphic novel come to life.”

Director Martin Scorsese, who also co-produced the film with Richard Price, said that the book was a gift to film. “This story was actually conceived as a movie, and it’s a great one,” he said at a press conference. “I think that it would be wonderful to see this on the big screen.”

Price, who won the 2005 Nebula Award for Best Novel for his debut novel Gilead, noted at the time that film rights to his book had been optioned by several production companies, but that he and Scorsese had managed to retain the rights to make the film. He said that in adapting his work for the screen, the filmmakers did a “brilliant job… infusing my words with cinematic feeling.”

One of Price’s favorite elements of the novel is the way that he weaves the present and the future into a seamless whole. “In the book, a great deal of the action takes place in 2010,” he told The Hollywood Reporter at the time of the book’s release. “In the film, the action will take place in 2013. The present is very much woven into the story, as you’d expect in a book called ‘The Twilight Zone.'”

The Clutch Of Technology

In the event of a pandemic, cameras would play a pivotal role in our lives. At the beginning of the novel, the main protagonist Miles Kenneally (played by Waititi) stores a digital copy of himself in the Cloud, ensuring that in the event of a computer meltdown, he can continue functioning. While the technology that he uses to accomplish this feat is not named, it’s clear that he’s using a smartphone. Indeed, smartphones have become an extension of ourselves in today’s world, acting as vital portals to our social lives and professional endeavors.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Scorsese said that for his part, he tried to keep the narrative grounded in reality while staying true to Price’s story. “I didn’t want to lose people,” he said. “Sometimes you’ll see a movie or a play where all the characters seem to be in some kind of ecstasy, and you think, ‘That could never happen.’ But here, it’s so grounded. All these people are just trying to do their jobs and make it through the day, and they have no other choice but to work with each other.”

The Power Of Cinema

While many readers may not have been familiar with the works of Richard Price, the success of The Twilight Zone: Scanner Darkly will surely introduce them to the novels of this fascinating author. The book, which won the 2005 Nebula Award for Best Novel, is described by Price as “a techno-thriller that explores the ways in which we interact with technology, searching for the line that separates order from chaos.” It was also shortlisted for the Locus Awards and the American Library Association’s Andre Norton Award for Debut Novel.

Cahoy, who heads up publicity for Disney, praised the book’s blend of “elements of hard science fiction and fantasy with an underlying anti-establishment theme that resonates with young and old alike.” The novel was also a New York Times bestseller and has been optioned for television by Netflix.

Wondering Why?

While talking with press at the premiere of The Twilight Zone: Scanner Darkly, Waititi (the film’s co-writer and director) said that he and his fellow filmmakers went through extensive rewrites before they found the right tone for the project. “There were so many drafts, and it was really great to have all those people involved,” he said. “I think there were 35 to 40 people who got their hands on it at some point, and it was great to have that many eyes looking at the story and at the same time.”

In the end, Waititi said that they were all very happy with how the story turned out, particularly after having gone through so much trauma to get there. “The story just kept getting better and better, and it’s great to finally see it on the screen,” he said. “The last thing any of us wanted to do was ruin it with bad acting or bad storytelling. We really wanted to do it justice.”

Indeed, the film’s three leads — Taika Waititi, John Leguizamo, and Ben McKenzie — all deserve a great deal of credit for their strong performances. The leading man of the rebooted franchise, Robert Pattinson, also shows up in a small supporting role as an unnamed police officer, and he’s been making headlines for his role as the vampire Edward Cullen in the Twilight saga. While some may see the film as yet another cash-in by Disney, the studio is to be commended for their bold selection of a debut novel by an unknown author and their subsequent efforts to bring it to the big screen.

One last thing: If you have Netflix, you can now stream the entire Twilight Zone series, which originally aired in the ’60s and consisted of 153 half-hours. The streaming service launched the entire series back in December 2017.