‘News of the World’ Director Paul Greengrass Says His Production Team Was ‘Fearless’

Awards season contender “News of the World” is a departure for director Paul Greengrass after such high-adrenaline contempo movies as his Jason Bourne trio and “22 July.” He reunites with “Captain Phillips” star Tom Hanks in Universal’s Western about Captain Kidd, a man delivering the news to towns in Texas, accompanied by the orphan Johanna. Greengrass and his behind-the-camera team “shared the goal to honor the Western tradition and to remain true to 1870, but also make the film feel contemporary and relevant.” He says the biggest thrill was working with “people who are fearless artists performing at a high level.”

Dariusz Wolski, cinematographer

“He’s a great guy and great artist. The beginning of our conversation was about my wanting to make a film breaking new ground for me: The trick was to do something different but that still felt authentic to me. Can we find a visual language that does this? I was amazed at how quickly we slipped into it. We talked about atmosphere and mood a lot. I wanted to juxtapose the huge expanse of the land and the shadowy, candlelit interiors. Dariusz is so brilliant; he pushed me in a good way, and I think I pushed him too.”

William Goldenberg, editor

“I wanted to slow down the tempo but not lose the intensity. One action sequence [when Kidd and young Johanna are chased by three baddies] was both a challenge and great fun. It starts as a chase, then becomes a shootout in the rocks, then becomes cat and mouse. Billy was instrumental in shaping that. It’s all about storytelling, choosing the moment, judging the tempo –— when to let it go or when to hold it back. Billy’s pacing is so exquisite, the way he assembled that film. He does what an editor should do, which is interrogate the rushes and seek to deliver what you’re going for, but he’s not afraid to question if what you were going for is in fact what you’ve got.”

James Newton Howard, composer

“The interesting thing was the intimacy and spareness of the score. My idea was that this is a concert of players who’ve been through the Civil War; their instruments and bodies have been broken and re-formed in Reconstruction. Their music is a journey toward finding harmony again. Yet there are musical moments when you have to enter the “cinematic space”; it’s a movie, it’s got to pick you up and transport you. It was about choosing those moments — on the road to Dallas was one, another was coming face to face with the Kiowa tribe. James worked and reworked it until he delivered that magnificent score. It’s so subtle and so dignified.”

David Crank, production designer

“Fantastic, absolutely brilliant. We didn’t have huge resources, and he put every dollar on the screen. We had the run of a ranch in New Mexico and cycled and recycled things in different ways; he’d give us facades of buildings, extensions, even details inside a building. And his details were immaculate. We photographed the buildings one way, then the other; it’s a little bit a matter of choosing angles. We also recycled the interiors in a clever way. We’d shoot an interior, then when we were filming something else, David would go in and repurpose the area, and it was transformed into a completely different space.”

Mark Bridges, costume designer

“He’s extraordinarily talented. The character of Kidd — that’s what attracted me to the story. He’s a lonely newsreader who wanders from town to town; he wasn’t a flashy entertainer. Mark had to get Kidd’s reading suit perfectly, and he did. All the clothes feel utterly true, utterly lived in. That is the artistry of costume design, to tell the stories of each character. Mark culled all those characters’ stories and made subtle choices, right down to the aunt and uncle at the end, who were perfectly dressed. The way that Mark changed the clothes for Kidd and the little girl at the end, in entirely organic ways; there is a sort of happiness in the clothes, but very subtle. When you see Mark on the set looking at his clothes, he would sometimes say, “I’m not sure about that,” and he would then add or subtract a small detail. Filmmaking is about the right details.”

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