Edward Drake on his Last Knight and new chapter!
Welcome back!! Haha you’re taking residency over here haha! Well, we finally reach the final Bruce Willis related interview. It’s been quite a ride!
A lot of memories, a lot of explosions, and a lot of laughs were had. I’m so proud of the work of the cast members and crews over these films.
Now that your final movie in the trilogy is out, we can talk about Knight’s journey. Was it always written for Knight to take a back seat of sorts in this chapter?
I love the antagonists of action films more than I like most protagonists. If an antagonist has a great motivation that audiences can cheer for it creates a moral ambiguity which speaks to the kinds of films I want to make. Killmonger in Black Panther is the best modern example of a great antagonist you can root for.
Of course, the great Alan Rickman’s work in Die Hard is another example. I’d love to see the Hans Gruber prequel film: he Rogue One / Andor tale of all the socio-economic forces which create a character as smart and ruthless as Hans would be a dream to make.
All this is to say a big ol’ yes to answer your question: we always wanted the antagonist’s stories to be at the forefront. A good example of this would be how Jon Hamm’s character is woven through The Town. Technically, he’s the ‘good guy’ in his world as he’s an F.B.I. Agent, however, the deft writing and filmmaking give Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner’s crew so much humanity. I wanted to tap that way of thinking, to get you inside the antagonist’s state of mind.
The reason why someone robs a bank is always more interesting than what they’re stealing.
Also, a big shout out to Peter Houlahan’s book, Norco ’80. The book is one of the best pieces of modern journalism exploring the motivations of bank robbers.
Jack’s an Ace
Though let it be said, Bruce isn’t a cameo appearance, but this story is more focused on Dezi, played by the amazing Jack Kilmer. What was it like working with Jack?
Jack Kilmer! What an actor. He has a bright future ahead and I was so lucky to work with him at this point in his life. His approach was so singular and refreshing: he recognized that a lot of the male antagonist roles ‘go big’, and he made deliberate choices to internalize as much of the strife as possible. This allowed the temporal moments where we’re inside his characters ‘dream states’ to be emotionally impactful.
Let’s not forget Willow Shields she was phenomenal in her role! How did you get her onboard this movie?
Willow was fantastic, she has incredible instincts. We had fun looking at Knight’s character traits and seeing how Willow could embody them in a fun way.
Some part of me thinks a spin-off of the EMT unit could work as limited series set in Knight’s universe…. obviously without Knight as Bruce has retired.
There have been discussions. The producers want the world to live on.
Or, a universe that focuses on Timothy V. Murphy’s character! What was it like reuniting with him?
I’m fortunate enough to call Tim a friend. He’s the best actor I’ve worked with and a great soul. Tim’s reputation precedes him at this point. His scene partners have to bring their A-Game when acting opposite him. The man doesn’t suffer fools. Every film could use more Timothy V. Murphy.
Your next set of movies should be a neo-noir thriller revolving around a tough, whiskey-drinking private detective who takes no shit, and he is played by Timothy. The guy is ace! Haha!
You’re not too far from the truth, sir…
Was his role written specifically for him?
On the last day of shooting, I can only believe it was emotional saying your goodbyes to Bruce?
I called picture wrap on Mr. Willis, and he gave me a hug and said “so that’s it.”
We took a break. Some crew members were rightfully emotional. Mr. Willis said his goodbyes and danced off-set. It was an honor to work with the man.
There has never been anyone like Bruce Willis, and there never will be again.
But, heck! You shot a badass finale! That truck chase had Bruce giving Die Hard 4 vibes! What was his take on the finale?
I take a lot of pride in knowing that our badass action director Thomas Forbes-Johnson and his assist. Robert Laenan gave Mr. Willis one last epic car-chase.
Mr. Willis had the biggest grin on his face while we shot the moment when he was hanging of the side of the SWAT truck with a machine gun.
I love stunts teams. They’re the coolest kids on set and for good reason.
The movie ends abruptly and you left it like it was another day at the office, can we assume Knight is still patrolling the streets
Absolutely, the beat goes on: Knight is a product of a justice system that–for better or worse–needs him as much as he needs it.
However… Dezi does fire a bullet in the finale that is never explained. Perhaps Knight dies in the seconds after the film ends.
Knight’s death would make thematic sense, as he’s connected with his daughter one-last time and finally fulfilled his oath to serve and protect with honor.
But what do I know, I’m just the writer… 🙂
Do you think if you had made the Knight movies sooner you could or would have made a few more stories?
Absolutely, the KNIGHT films have been incredibly fun to write as they allowed me to bring voices to antagonists whose stories we often don’t hear.
I’d write 10 seasons of KNIGHT the T.V. series with each episode, Gunsmoke or Law & Order or Columbo-style, delving into the villain’s state of mind.
Over your Bruce tenure you have delved into all sorts of genres. I really enjoyed Breach and I will always ask you this. Will we get a follow-up haha!
Cosmic Sin was written as a sequel to Breach. Due to last-minute rights issues, the producers needed COSMIC to be a stand-alone. I was notified five days before starting production, necessitating a page-one rewrite.
Act one of Breach 2 was all about Bruce’s character making a daring last-minute escape from the Herc. before it was destroyed.
Breach 2 had aliens getting buzzed on moonshine, kamikaze moons, and time-traveling eggs.
I love sci-fi, man.
What can we expect next, do you have any action-thriller movies hitting our screens this year? **Cough cough Gasoline Alley 2 Cough cough**
I have a philosophy that until you’re watching the film in a theatre, you haven’t ‘made’ the film. The team has a few irons in the fire. Let’s see which ones make it to screens.
The documentary I co-directed with Francis Cronin, Mandy’s Mountain, however, has been my heart and soul over the past two years. It’s the best anything I’ve ever been a part of and I can’t wait for audiences to learn about Mandy Horvath’s inspiring journey.
You managed to bring Bruce back and leave his career on a great note, while also showing how creative you are as a writer and director. I can’t wait for the next one, Edward!
Your support and gratitude have meant the world to me and the crew over the years. Thank you, Jeff.
Check out previous interviews with the talented, Edward Drake here