Writer-director Steven Knight began considering the nature of filmmaking when
was putting the finishing touches to his directorial debut Hummingbird at the
2012. "I wondered if I could strip the whole process down to the basics," Knight
explains. "The idea is to get a load of people in a room, turn the lights off
persuade them to look at a screen and engage with whatever is there.
"People talk about the journey and the arc and all that stuff. LOCKE boils
down," continues Knight, who received an Oscar nomination for his script Dirty
Pretty Things in 2004. "In this film, the journey is a real journey and the arc
is a real
arc. Someone begins with a job and a family and a wife and by the end of the
pretty much in real time, he's got nothing left."
LOCKE, starring Tom Hardy as Ivan Locke, is set almost entirely in a car.
the only face we see; the other characters are the voices at the other end of
sometimes angry, sometimes funny, often shattering telephone calls. The backdrop
a hypnotic vista of motorway lights, illuminating Ivan's face as well as the
is battling and the choices he is making.
The concept was inspired by a series of camera tests Knight had done for
Hummingbird in which he had shot the view from a moving car using an Alexa
camera. "It was mesmerising," recalls Knight of the footage. "Cities and roads
night are beautiful, I could look at them for hours. And so I started thinking
whether you could tell a story that all takes place within a vehicle."
Knight, whose writing credits also include the 2007 crime thriller Eastern
directed by David Cronenberg, has a reputation in the industry as a very
supremely talented writer. He took his idea for LOCKE to Shoebox Films, the
emerging new UK company also producing Hummingbird, in November 2012.
Shoebox is comprised of a troika of renowned film-makers: leading film
Paul Webster, first assistant director-turned-producer Guy Heeley and acclaimed
director Joe Wright, whose credits include a startling, innovative take on Anna
Karenina (produced by Webster). Their interest was piqued by Knight's simple
"Steve said, 'I'm thinking about doing a movie and it's not going to be a movie.
going to be like an installation piece, something you might see in a gallery',"
Webster with a smile. "As a producer you remain impervious to all kinds of
so Guy and I said, 'OK, fine'. You think about how you would achieve that. You
think, "OK, he wants to make a movie, we like him, we love his talent, and it
good because everything Steve does is good. But how the hell do you pull this
Knight and the Shoebox producers knew to make it work they needed a world-class
film star. "In my opinion, the best actor around is Tom Hardy," says Knight of
british actor who has most recently starred in Christopher Nolan's blockbusters
Inception and The Dark Knight Rises.
Neither Knight nor the producers had worked with Hardy. However Hardy had
close to playing both Joey in Hummingbird and Mr Darcy in Joe Wright's Pride And
Prejudice, also produced by Webster, a role for which he was ultimately
too young at the time.
"We asked Steve how he was going to get Tom Hardy, who is the busiest actor
world, to commit to this," says Webster. "Steve said, 'I'm having a drink with
tomorrow at the Groucho Club and I'm going to talk him into it'. We said, "OK,
call us after that", and sure enough Steve did and said, "Tom's in". We didn't
it for a second and followed up with his agents, both here and in America. They
"Yeah he likes this, so once there is a script, he'll do it, and he'll give you
to do it in. And that window was two weeks."
Hardy's wafer-thin availability in early 2013 presented the filmmakers with
enormous but appealing creative challenge.
"The conversation became, 'can we make a film in two weeks?' " says producer
Heeley. "We decided we could. We could if we were absolutely sure it would work
technically and we had all our ducks in a row. I was a first assistant director
years so this is my area of expertise."
The team decided to rehearse for a week and shoot for a week. Stuart Ford's
Angeles-based sales and financing company IM Global, which had also backed
Hummingbird, agreed to finance the project in December 2012 on the strength of
Knight's two-page outline. Knight then wrote the script over Christmas 2012.
LOCKE is a compelling human drama about how one man's life is irrecoverably
altered one night as he drives from Birmingham to London. While driving, Ivan
makes a series of devastating phone calls to his wife Katrina (Ruth Wilson) and
young sons (Tom Holland and Bill Milner). Ivan also has to handle the calls from
Bethan, the woman who was his assistant on a job site months ago, as well as a
of work-related telephone calls, including from his boss Gareth (Ben Daniels),
reluctantly fires him, and his scatter-brained but loyal colleague Donal (Andrew
Scott), who Ivan needs to help him finish the job and oversee a vital delivery
"I wanted it to be what I think of as an ordinary tragedy," says Knight.
ordinary man to whom an ordinary thing has happened. It's not a car chase or an
invasion. But to everyone involved it is a massive tragedy."
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