Exclusive Interview: Writer/Director Michael Spierig on his latest film Predestination

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“What if I could put him in front of you? The man who ruined your life.”

With this line, so begins Predestination, a home grown time travel mind bender that will have you pinned to the edge of your seat. Starring Ethan Hawke, Noah Taylor, and breakout star Sarah Snook, this sci fi trip from Peter & Michael Spierig is a wild ride.

The film came about when Peter read Robert Heinlein’s classic short story ‘All You Zombies’ and insisted that his brother check it out. “I read it and I remember the first time I didn’t really understand it, the concept of it – I read it a few more times and I really started to see what Peter saw in it,” Michael Spierig says when I chatted to him over the phone this week. “We approached the rights holder and got the rights to adapt, and we adapted it fairly quickly – the thing about adapting a short story as opposed to a novel is a short story’s often about expanding, while a novel is about taking stuff away – it was such a solid and interesting base to start with that we were thrilled to get the chance to adapt it.”

Ethan Hawke, who starred in the Spierig Brothers’ 2009 film Daybreakers, came on board not too long after. “[On Daybreakers] we’d built up a relationship with him and got to know him quite well – before we had any financing in place we sent him the script and he fell in love with it, he said yes straight away.” Casting the film’s other lead role, that of ‘The Unmarried Mother’ was a different story. “We went back and forth on the idea of casting an actress to play both a man and a woman – we were very, very nervous about attempting that, and we weren’t 100% sure we could pull it off. We saw most of the young actresses in Australia and Sarah was just so unbelievable – as soon as we found Sarah we thought ‘okay, maybe this could work’. The thing that makes me the most proud [of the film] is that Sarah pulled it off, she’s really quite wonderful in the film.”

The film’s twists and turns mean that it’s quite the conversation starter, something that’s generated a great response from festival crowds. “I’ve had a few people come up to me and say how much they loved the film, and how happy they were that something different was out there – something in the sci fi world that they really had never seen before.” The film had its world premiere at SXSW earlier this year, which Michael says was a dream come true. “I got to show it to one of my heroes – Richard Linklater, who had his film Boyhood there which is another film with Ethan, a wonderful film – it was so great to talk to him about Predestination, he loved the film and it was such a joy to get that from one of my favourite filmmakers.”

In their work thus far, the Spierigs have tackled zombies, vampires, and time travel – so what’s next? “We have a couple of projects we’re working on – one is about the Winchester mystery house, it’s about Sarah Winchester who was the heir to the Winchester rifle fortune. It’s a true story, she believed she was being haunted by all the people who’d been killed by the Winchester rifle. She built this house in San Jose and she believed it contained all those ghosts who were after her; it’s a famous tourist attraction in California, an amazing place and an amazing story.”

So why should you line up for Predestination? “If you go to the cinema looking for something new, something you haven’t seen before then that’s definitely this film. If you like a bit of a mindbender, a bit of a think, if you’re looking for a film with some unique and interesting performances then I think this film might be right up your alley.”

Predestination is currently in cinemas around the country.