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Once upon a time, Duncan Jones intended Mute to be his feature film debut. An unorthodox mystery set in a future Berlin, the film follows Leo (Alexander Skarsgård), a mute bartender who tears through the city’s criminal underbelly like a silent wrecking ball after the woman he loves goes missing. Of course, Mute didn’t end up being Jones’ first film, far from it, and in the fifteen-plus years he spent trying to get the project off the ground, the film evolved, became connected to the filmmaker’s sci-fi masterpiece Moon, and ultimately landed at Netflix when the streaming giant gave the Jones the freedom and the funds to finally make his dream project happen.
With Mute now available on Netflix, I recently hopped on the phone for a chat with Jones to talk about his long journey to getting the film made and why it was such a personal project. We discussed why he wanted to do a film with a mute lead in the first place, coming up with his pair of unorthodox villains (played by Justin Theroux and Paul Rudd in wonderfully against-type performances), how Mute uses color, designing a futurist noir without looking like Blade Runner, and more.
Please - Spoilers
Please be aware there are spoilers.
Why was it that you wanted to do a movie about a mute character? Was that the seed of the idea for you?
JONES - Seeds - Seed - Mike - Johnson
JONES: It was certainly one of the seeds, yes. No, I think it was the seed. I wrote it with Mike Johnson, my writing partner, almost 16 years ago. Really, originally it was set as a challenge to see if I could have a lead, a protagonist, who didn’t have any dialogue. I had just written another film, which was a courtroom drama that was all dialogue, and it was driving me...
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