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Paul Greengrass on News of the World and the Truths about Filmmaking

With News of the World now playing in select theaters and arriving on PVOD in mid-January, I recently spoke with director Paul Greengrass about making his Western with Tom Hanks. If you haven’t seen the trailers, News of the World is based on the novel by Paulette Jiles and is set a few years after the end of the Civil War in Texas. The film is about Captain Jefferson Kyle Kid (Hanks), a veteran who goes from town-to-town reading stories from newspapers. While traveling, he meets an abandoned 10-year-old girl named Johanna (Helena Zengel), who was being escorted to Indian Affairs as she had previously been captured and raised among the Kiowa people after her family was slaughtered six years earlier. After trying to deliver the girl to local authorities, he decides to take her under his wing and return her to her only surviving relatives, which is hundreds of miles into the unforgiving wilderness.

During the extended interview, Greengrass talked about the obstacles they had to overcome making News of the World, the way he collaborates with his editor, deleted scenes, the healing power of storytelling, how your daily rushes are always genius but your first cut makes you extremely nervous. In addition, he talked about why he’s always wanted to make an adaption of George Orwell’s 1984 but why it’s such a challenging project to make.

Paul Greengrass:

What TV series would he love to guest write and direct?
If he could get the financing for any project what would he make and why?
How he’s always wanted to make 1984 and why it’s a challenging project.
How long was his first cut of News of the World versus the finished film?
Talks about how he collaborates with his editor.
What you’re feeling after you see the first cut of a movie.
The certain truths about filmmaking.
What were some of the obstacles they had to overcome making News of the World?

Here’s the official synopsis for News of the World:

Five years after the end of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Tom Hanks), a widower and veteran of three wars, now moves from town to town as a non-fiction storyteller, sharing the news of presidents and queens, glorious feuds, devastating catastrophes, and gripping adventures from the far reaches of the globe. In the plains of Texas, he crosses paths with Johanna (Helena Zengel), a 10-year-old taken in by the Kiowa people six years earlier and raised as one of their own. Johanna, hostile to a world she’s never experienced, is being returned to her biological aunt and uncle against her will. Kidd agrees to deliver the child where the law says she belongs. As they travel hundreds of miles into the unforgiving wilderness, the two will face tremendous challenges of both human and natural forces as they search for a place that either can call home.

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