In writer/director Chris Fisher’s feature film Meeting Evil, we see what happens when an average guy named John (Luke Wilson) meets a deadly stranger named Ritchie (Samuel L. Jackson) who unleashes chaos and madness into John’s world after one act of kindness goes awry.
The flick also co-stars Leslie Bibb and recently made its way onto VOD platforms everywhere; Meeting Evil (review here) is currently gearing up for a limited theatrical release on May 4th. Recently Dread Central had the opportunity to chat exclusively with the filmmaker about his latest film and heard more about his thoughts on working with his talented ensemble as well as more on his experiences adapting Thomas Berger’s original novel for the big screen and what’s coming up next for him as well.
Read on for our interview with Fisher below and make sure to check out Meeting Evil currently on VOD or in limited theaters this Friday.
Dread Central: First of all, congratulations on creating a really unforgettable flick; I know it may not be for everyone but I appreciated how you left the ending open for interpretation because it certainly left me with a lot to think about after the movie was finished.
Chris Fisher: Thanks! I know it’s not for everyone but I personally love the ambiguity of our ending and that there are so many interpretations of just what really was going on at the end of Meeting Evil; what the wife was really up to, just what Ritchie really was, who was whistling at the end and what John really learned from everything by the end.
Dread Central: Well, we know who Ritchie turned out to be but I think he definitely represents something more; that’s a nice change to see a villain that’s not so one-dimensional and takes a while to figure out.
Chris Fisher: Well, because we’ve left things open just enough, it’s great that we have viewers intelligently speculating over certain aspects of the film; that’s cool to me. People have come to their own interpretations over just who Ritchie is or what he represents and while certainly Ritchie represents evil, what does that mean really and what sort of affect does it have on John by the end? And I think more so than evil, what Ritchie really represents is truth and what that truth means to someone whose ‘perfect American dream’ is nothing but a lie.
The entire movie was one long nightmare of John’s; we see at the very beginning how the dream transforms into this hellish existence for him and it pretty much stays like that until the end. There’s this one brief moment when John ‘wakes up’ and that’s when Ritchie confronts him about everything he believes but it’s fleeting; he’s back to his nightmare existence because he can’t ever see the true evil in his life or get motivated to deal with it either.
Dread Central: Can you discuss what it was about Luke Wilson that you saw in him for the role of John?
Chris Fisher: Luke was somebody that I pretty much had in mind when I was writing it; I’ve always been a huge fan of his and I knew that to create a sad sack character who was going to be making mistake after mistake like John does, people still had to like him and want him to win this thing with Ritchie.
So Luke was always someone front and center in my mind for that role; as it turned out, he and Sam were already good friends and they’ve always wanted to work together so it was great to have them on board this. I never worked with them independently either; when we were working, it was always the three of us. That’s how integral the chemistry between Luke and Sam together was to this movie and I think because they did work together as intensely as they did, that’s what makes Meeting Evil so great. They both really make the movie.
Dread Central: Luke and Samuel are certainly front-and-center but I enjoyed the fact that you gave us intelligent female characters, particularly Leslie’s character. She was fantastic.
Chris Fisher: You know, I have to say that my two favorite characters in the movie are the two female leads- played by Leslie and Peyton (List)- which is unusual because you’d think with having characters like John and Ritchie to follow mainly that they’d end up my favorites but not in this case. I think that these two characters are some of the most intelligently written female characters I’ve seen in some time. In fact, that was the whole reason Leslie signed on- she said early on that she hadn’t really seen a role quite like Joanie come her way in some time and the fact that she had so many layers was a huge draw for her.
I personally love Peyton’s character Tammy because essentially, she’s supposed to be the drunk tramp that’s the root of John’s problems in his life but in reality, she represents truth in a way that Ritchie doesn’t which pisses him off, for sure. She almost messed up Ritchie’s plan for sure but I also love how she becomes more than this ‘homewrecker’ and ends up becoming selfless in the wake of John’s decisions in the film. You generally don’t see characters like that ever get any sort of dramatic turn; usually it’s a one-note kind of role but Peyton brought so much life to her that she became this great energy that you can’t help but fall for just a little during in the film.
Dread Central: Can you talk a bit about your approach to adapting the novel for the film version? Did you end up making a lot of changes from what was in the written version?
Chris Fisher: I did make a lot of little changes but I think I successfully kept all the thematic elements that Thomas had in play intact. Of course the novel was written in 1992 so there were a lot of technological aspects I had to update for the movie version and I did make some subtle character changes but essentially the core characters are all the same in spirit.
The biggest thing for me is that I wanted to keep John’s down-and-out loser point of view and that was something that I had to fight really hard for. A lot of people have questioned why John never reacts to Ritchie or ever takes a stand and that’s just his character; that’s just the spineless kind of guy he is. He doesn’t know how to make a stand because he’s comfortable letting people walk all over him. And while a lot of Meeting Evil is from his perspective, don’t forget that because of Ritchie, there’s this great anti-hero point of view at play as well; because Sam’s performance is so charismatic, it’s another great draw for audiences as well.
Dread Central: With Meeting Evil out on VOD now and heading to theaters May 4th, what’s up next for you? I have to imagine that you keep pretty busy balancing television and film as much as you do.
Chris Fisher: Yeah, I do keep pretty busy which is something I’m grateful for. But yeah, I’m booked on television for the next year as the producing director for Syfy’s little steampunk show called “Warehouse 13” which is just so much fun. So I’m directing six of the next 20 episodes until sometime in mid-November and then I’ll be going to work on a few episodes of “Person of Interest” for CBS. I’ve got a few feature film productions in the works too because I always like to keep myself busy but television is my life for a while now.
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