About the Production
In addressing what attracted him to "Instinct," director Jon Turteltaub explains, "Not only was it a beautifully written screenplay, it also asked a lot of interesting questions about mankind and the world we live in today I think the film is entertaining
In addressing what attracted him to "Instinct,"
director Jon Turteltaub explains, "Not only was it a beautifully
written screenplay, it also asked a lot of interesting questions
about mankind and the world we live in today I think the film
is entertaining and provocative in a way that I hope will inspire
audiences to think about what our priorities are to ourselves
and to others."
Although the Daniel Quinn book Ishmael inspired "Instinct,"
it is not an adaptation. When producer Michael Taylor first read
the book, he loved it and asked his partner Barbara Boyle to read
it. She agreed it was great, but neither was sure if the book
-could possibly become a movie. "The entire book was a didactic,"
explains Taylor. "It was a philosophy book with a dialogue
between a man and a gorilla."
Adds Boyle, "The real challenge came with how to translate
this book into a film story, preserving what was most important
to Michael, the messages of the book."
The two then gave the book to writer Gerald DiPego. An old friend,
DiPego had written the screenplay of their hit film "Phenomenon."
DiPego read the book and was moved by it. "It was an emotional
experience reading it because it does make you think, and it breaks
your heart." DiPego then went on to script a totally different
drama with different characters that would incorporate some of
the philosophical ideologies found in the book. The script was
developed with executive producers Wolfgang Petersen and Gail
Once the second draft of the screenplay was complete, the producers
received a phone call from Jon Turteltaub who had heard they were
sitting on the best script in town. "We loved working with
Jon on 'Phenomenon' and we were looking for what else we could
do together" says Boyle. "Jon read the script and loved
it. Everyone was very, very happy and we began work casting the
The filmmakers had a very limited, very short list for the role
of Ethan Powell. "He's of a certain age, he's of a certain
power, he's of a certain intellect," notes producer Boyle.
"We needed someone audiences would believe had those attributes."
Anthony Hopkins was cast in the role of Ethan Powell.
"Before I started this movie," explains Turteltaub,
"everyone said, 'Oh, it's so exciting that you're working
with Anthony Hopkins.' My response was that as a director, the
idea of 'working' with someone is very odd; you're not acting
with them, you're just watching them act. Hopkins did the working.
I did the watching. What I worry about is, 'Are they fun to work
with, are they nice, are they funny, are they easy to
get along with?' Regarding Anthony Hopkins, he's all of the above.
He is so delightful. This was the only time I've ever been on
a film where I've stepped outside of myself and been aware that
I'm actually directing somebody of that caliber."
Turteltaub recalls, "We were on a shoot in Jamaica, the camera
was rolling, and I was watching Tony in a scene, and I just started
to cry. I couldn't believe how brilliant he was. It wasn't that
the shot was so great or that he was doing anything so amazing--I
just couldn't believe that I was the guy who got the job to direct
He continues, "Anthony Hopkins is, first o
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