MoviesOnline sat down at a press conference with director Andrew Niccol and actors Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Matt Bomer and Vincent Kartheiser to talk about the sci fi thriller filmed on location in and around Los Angeles. They discussed why the film is a great metaphor for the present, how the age of 25 was chosen as the appropriate time to switch off the aging gene, and what it’s like to exist in a world where the poor have no time to create anything new and the rich have no incentive.
Q: What’s the possibility of this movie actually happening in real life, especially in light of the recent cyber celebrity hackers? Are we moving more toward a Big Brother type of society?
Justin Timberlake: I’m not sure what celebrity hacking has to do with it.
Andrew Niccol: I understand there’s a Big Brother element but for me it’s more about the obsession with youth. It’s kind of great that we shot the movie in Los Angeles which is the capital of staying young forever. I think if we could switch off the aging gene, we certainly would.
Q: The movie seems very timely in terms of the whole Occupy Wall Street. I kept making that connection in my head while watching it.
Justin Timberlake: (kidding) You’re the first person to say that. No, no, we did foreign [press] yesterday and that was like the topic of the day.
Q: You made this well before this was happening. How does it feel now for this to be going on all around the world and have this movie seem so timely because of it?
Amanda Seyfried: But he actually said when we were shooting the movie “They’re going to occupy Wall Street like the next year when this comes out. So I think this is a great time to make it.” (to Andrew) Didn’t you?
Andrew Niccol: I’m a prophet. It wasn’t a sudden leaping off point for me. Obviously, for the movie, I wanted to write a thriller and I thought it was a great metaphor for living in the present. But as soon as you make the decision that time is going to be currency, then it should be a reflection of what’s happening today and obviously it is.
Q: Why did you decide the age of 25?
Andrew Niccol: I didn’t decide that. Biology decided that because that is the age when you stop fully developing. That’s when your frontal lobe finally fully develops. That’s why a rental car company in America won’t rent you a car until you’re 25. It’s because this lobe controls reckless behavior and impulse and they don’t want to give you a car if you’re reckless. And that’s why you wouldn’t switch off the aging gene until you were fully developed.
Q: Amanda, the action scenes were great but how did you run in heels like that?
Amanda Seyfried: I had many pairs of stunt heels. It’s really just that they’re half the size of the original design. I mean, it was kind of an unhealthy thing to be doing every day for two months but …
Andrew Niccol: I’m sorry.
Amanda Seyfried: No. It looked better. It’s not like we had time to take the heels off. It did in a roundabout way make sense.
Justin Timberlake: We debated actually in the middle of a scene her taking the heels off and just running without them but she would have gotten lost in the frame.
Amanda Seyfried: You can’t build a trench for him that long.
Andrew Niccol: She would also have been shot by the guy chasing her.
Justin Timberlake: No Casablanca trench.
Amanda Seyfried: I mean for literally a mile.
Q: Justin, in the movie, one of the running themes was you can do a lot in a day. Because you’ve done so much with your life at such a young age, what would you do if all you had left was tomorrow? How would you spend that one day?
Justin Timberlake: Umm, I will pay you later. It sounds cliché but I would spend it with people that I loved, people in my family. If I had 24 hours, I’d probably …
Matt Bomer: You could come to a junket.
Justin Timberlake: Yeah, I could come to a junket and talk to you guys. I could probably squeeze like a 3-hour round in if I played golf by myself and then that leaves me 21 hours so I would probably spend the rest of that with the people that I love.
Q: Is there anything you feel you haven’t done yet that you might want to get in that day?
Justin Timberlake: I’d like to Occupy Pasadena. We can work on that. I think that all the things that you look on that you’re most proud of always, at least for me, are that you were so desperate to do what it was that you were doing that you had that much conviction. I relate that to this film. I’m really proud of this film. I think it’s obvious to say it’s serendipitous that, like you pointed out, the sort of social stance that’s happening right now with Occupy Wall Street and Occupy L.A. and things like that. But I saw this movie as a very beautiful story in the midst of a really otherworldly macro concept. I just saw this movie as there were some really simple themes to this guy and I saw him as an everyday man who gets pushed too far and decides he’s not going to take it anymore. I was really excited to work with this cast and obviously Andrew. I’m a huge fan of his previous outings. So yeah, I would relate it to something like this that you could be really, really proud of – the final piece of work.
Q: Justin, how much fun was it to be the action guy and almost like a James Bond type, especially in that poker game. How much fun was that for you guys to act?
Justin Timberlake: All of the scenes were. On top of being a really rich story filled with lots of things, I got to live out a lot of boyhood fantasies in this movie shooting guns and getting to learn how to stunt drive and then you always when you’re a little kid you obviously you see those types of scenes in movies and you never picture yourself as the guy who loses the poker match so…
Vincent Kartheiser: I did.
Justin Timberlake: Yeah. So that worked out then. So yeah, all of that stuff is you read it and you’re like this is going to be a lot of fun on top of being a really smart, intellectual thriller. We’re going to have a lot of fun. It’s going to be. The script really read like it plays. It was intense for me when I read the script and I remember for three days after I couldn’t stop thinking about the themes but also the fact that it was relentless in its pace. So yeah, the movie was a lot of fun.
Q: Were you ever concerned that this might not be relatable to an audience?
Justin Timberlake: Do you mean just the fact that we have digital clocks on our arms and it’s the future and things like that? ‘Cause it’s just a movie at the end of the day.
Q: Did you have to change anything that was actually too complicated?
Andrew Niccol: No, we didn’t try to dumb it down.
Matt Bomer: Did you dumb it down for the Americans?
Justin Timberlake: Honestly, I think the only anecdote that I can give is that when we actually did get into the scenes, some of the dialogue the way it was written so that you could understand it a lot more easily. There were some scenes that I remember Amanda and I would go to Andrew and say “We live in this world and this world seems like everyday for us so…
Amanda Seyfried: …why are we explaining ourselves.
Justin Timberlake: If there was anything, I felt like we would take lines out because it’s always nicer I think when you can play out a scene and it can read without dialogue. It’s always a beautiful thing too.
Andrew Niccol: We actually did the opposite of what you’re saying in some ways because we didn’t try to over explain it so we didn’t want to make it too expositional.
Amanda Seyfried: (whispers) Expositional.
Justin Timberlake: Expositional.
Q: We’ve learned why 25 is the age that was chosen for the movie, but what age would you want to get stuck at and why?
Vincent Kartheiser: I got nothing. I mean, that’s not something I’ve ever contemplated. I don’t know. Have you guys ever sat around and thought about that?
Amanda Seyfried: Do you ever think about 11 again? Just 11.
Justin Timberlake: Yeah. Just 11?
Vincent Kartheiser: 11 was a really good year for me.
Matt Bomer: 27.
Justin Timberlake: 27? That’s definitive.
Matt Bomer: Yeah. That’s Saturn return year.
Justin Timberlake: Ahh.
Amanda Seyfried: Oh really?
Matt Bomer: Yeah.
Vincent Kartheiser: Saturn returns. Is that a satellite?
Matt Bomer: Yeah, it’s in the next Star Trek episode.
Vincent Kartheiser: Oh that’s what it is.
Justin Timberlake: I look back as a lot of my younger years have been documented and I can honestly say that I would not like to revisit. I just went last night to the Environmental Media Awards and obviously it’s recycle, recycle, recycle. And literally, one of the things that popped up into my mind probably because [sings] ‘I’m so vain’ is that –No, I’m joking – is I was like well I can think of something I wouldn’t recycle and that’s like a couple of the outfits that I wore in ’99. So I’m perfectly fine with aging. (to Amanda) What about you?
Amanda Seyfried: I can’t wait until I get to that point where I’m like I can relive this again because I don’t really think that any of us want to relive it. I just can’t wait for the future. (whispers) I hope there is a future.
Matt Bomer: That’s a good one.
Q: Why in this future are there no cell phones or iPads or some of the other technology that especially young audiences would take for granted? Also, what about some of the parallel themes it seems to share with “Gattica”?
Andrew Niccol: There are no bicycles either. I think the parallel with “Gattica” is when I was making that I knew that the Holy Grail of genetic engineering was just switch off the aging gene. But I just knew the implications were going to be so great that it would have to be another movie. So that’s why it’s another movie. Cell phones, it’s a secret. I can’t tell you.
Vincent Kartheiser: Well I think maybe, I hope I’m not revealing the secret, but one of the things you said to me that I thought was kind of interesting, very early on you said once they get this genetic aging thing down, all new things stop and you stop developing new things. There’s no reason to go out and create something new because you have the Holy Grail there and you can tend to relax. Is that the seed of it?
Andrew Niccol: (joking) No, it’s not. One of the things about the invention of the body clock is we decided it would be the death of all other inventions because the poor have no time to create anything and the rich have no incentive because why do it now? I can do it in 5 years from now. I can do it in 100 years from now.
Justin Timberlake: I think it’s more the ideal of aspiration because I think so much of the tech generation has to do with aspiring to create that type of thing. As a matter of fact, I remember having that conversation too about if you had all the time in the world to get used to that life that it would sort of be the death of creativity.
Andrew: That’s why there’s no new art and no new science in the movie because of this clock. In fact, Amanda’s character says it most beautifully when she says “The poor die and the rich don’t live.”
Q: Why are there no dogs in this film?
Andrew Niccol: That’s a good question. I don’t know whether they would’ve been genetically altered as well.
Q: Maybe they just can’t buy time?
Andrew Niccol: Yes, exactly.
Q: Justin, it’s always a delicate balance for celebrities as you try to be an artist and pursue your art and also support a cause and try to change the hearts and minds of people who follow you. Can you talk a little about your comfort level and is there an environmental superhero underneath that jacket?
Justin Timberlake: I think with each generation comes more opportunity. At least that’s the way that I see it. I think that I grew up in a generation that watched the birth of the internet. We all have. I feel like I look around at the generation younger than me and it’s a very opportunistic mantra. It’s a very opportunistic way of thinking and I think that I made a film about the raging of social media and what I remember feeling about that was that the common theme about researching all those characters for that film was that they all saw themselves in any way that they wanted to and it wasn’t just one way. It’s actually quite entrepreneurial the way they saw themselves. I don’t know. I think when you talk about something like the environment, that to me just seems so obvious. While I see the way that you relate them, I don’t think that I relate them that way and I think that saving the environment just seems obvious to me. It seems like something we all should be doing. So, if I have a platform, however big or small it may be, if it would inspire one person, then that’s all I feel like… Like I said before, we want to be inspired so to have the opportunity to inspire the people. That’s more the way that I look at something like that.
Q: Do you have a particular philanthropic cause that you’re invested in?
Justin Timberlake: Yeah, I do. Interestingly enough, they’re both related to golf. I do a PGA tournament that’s for the Shriners Hospitals for Children which is free health care for people under the age of 18 depending on if you have a condition that they can treat, which I think is another hot topic, health care. What I was there for last night [at the Environmental Media Awards] was a golf course that my family and I bought and turned into an actual eco-friendly wildlife sanctuary sort of indigenous to itself. There’s lots of different causes.
Q: What’s the name of the golf course?
Justin Timberlake: Mirimichi.
Matt Bomer: He does have an environmental superhero uniform too.
Justin Timberlake: Yeah, it’s green. It’s got a green cape. It’s beautiful. The spandex is made out of recyclable, compostable material.
Vincent Kartheiser: C’mon! It’s from 1998.
Justin Timberlake: I actually did recycle. Yeah!
Q: Can you share some stories from your personal lives where you may have been hiding or running from the police like the characters in this film?
Matt Bomer: Yeah baby!
Justin Timberlake: What’s the cutoff for being prosecuted?
Matt Bomer: The statute of limitations?
Vincent Kartheiser: It reminds me of when we were driving back from Alpha Dog one night.
Justin Timberlake: I remember that night.
Vincent Kartheiser: And I got pulled over. No, I don’t know any stories. I got nothing for you.
Justin Timberlake: This film was sort of an Alpha Dog reunion between Vincent, Amanda, Olivia and myself. We were all in that film and yes, I remember that night, but I don’t have any stories either.
Vincent Kartheiser: That was my story. You weren’t doing anything wrong.
Justin Timberlake: I was sort of a witness.
Vincent Kartheiser: You were behind my car.
Justin Timberlake: Way behind.
Vincent Kartheiser: Way behind.
“In Time” opens in theaters on October 28th.