This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.
One of the things I thought was so fun about this movie was — and you’ve talked about this before — how distinct all the disruptor characters are. I wanted to talk about how you created those disruptors and how you decided what their personas would be, and is there any disruptor left on the cutting room floor in terms of putting that group together?
No one was left on the cutting room floor, but I think starting out, one of the things that to me is exciting about making these movies is, I’m such a fan of the whodunit genre and so many of the examples of it that I loved over the years were all period pieces set in England. And the notion of setting a whodunit right here and now in America, that to me is what got me going on all of this.
So that’s all to say, coming up with all the different disruptors in it — that frees you up, and suddenly you can have a whodunit with a YouTube influencer, and with a politician who’s driving both sides of the aisle nuts, and with a tech billionaire, and trying to create a little microcosm of this specific part of society. So I was trying to pick people who have very different flavors, I guess. That was kind of the game.
To delve into that a bit more, when you were creating the story, did those characters come first, or did the plot?
The story comes first, which is kind of the plot. But the word plot, I think, makes you think of mystery, and the story is really kind of, “Okay, who’s this thing about? And what is the audience actually leaning forward following and excited about?” And then based on the needs of the story, I fill it out with the characters. To me, the characters all have to have a function in the story. So one can’t exist without the other.