If you’re a fan of Hugh Jackman and Reminiscence writer-director Lisa Joy and curious how the film was made, you’re going to be very happy. That’s because shortly before the film was released in theaters and HBO Max, I landed an extended interview with the two of them where we talked in-depth about the making of the science-fiction thriller.

If you haven’t seen the trailers, Hugh Jackman plays a private investigator of the mind whose life is forever changed when a new client (Rebecca Ferguson) steps into his office. As he obsesses over what happened to her, he uncovers a violent conspiracy and is forced to decide how far he’s willing to go to uncover the truth. Thandie Newton plays his business partner and the film also stars Daniel Wu, Cliff Curtis, Nico Parker, Angela Sarafyan, Natalie Martinez, Marina de Tavira, and Mojean Aria.

During the conversation, Jackman and Joy talked about how they managed to make an original movie not based on existing IP, what Joy did to land Jackman as her lead actor, the way Reminiscence talks about the environment and our planet’s future, how they like to work on set, how they created new technology to capture the holograms in camera on set, the editing process, and more. In addition, we talked about the end of Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners, how Jackman maintains his voice when performing on Broadway, why Les Miserables was such a tough role to let go of after wrapping on the production, how Joy broke into the industry, and the way the first X-Men changed shortly before release.

COLLIDER: Hugh, I want to start with you. Do you think that Keller got out of the pit in Prisoners?

HUGH JACKMAN: Yes. It feels pretty clear to me. I’m going to be honest. People say that to me all the time. And I’m like the last frame of the movie is him turning when he hears the whistle.

LISA JOY: For sure.

JACKMAN: We actually shot, we shot the scene. It was in the script. We shot the scene of him coming in and telling me the news about my daughter. Then in the end, everyone thought, “Well, then everyone’s going to be like, it’s not, there’s no, like it’s a weird ending because he’s going to jail for 20 years.” I think that’s what, and from memory that’s, that’s what happened there. People say that to me all the time. I’m like, yeah, he did.

JOY: I agree as a viewer.

RELATED: Thandiwe Newton on ‘Reminiscence’ and Why Lisa Joy Rewrote Her Character So She Could Play the Role

I think so as well, but people like to know. Lisa, my question for you is, do you sleep? Because you have a family, kids and multiple projects, and I really want to know how you pulled this off.

JACKMAN: And she plays a piano like a fiend.

JOY: I don’t sleep. I defeated the need for sleep. When I had children, I was like, now I have … It was like, how I want Hugh to clone himself. I now have night me and day me, and then there’s no… I get maybe three hours a night.

JACKMAN: Do you ever sleep more than that? Do you ever get like a crazy go for 15 hours that a catch up thing?

JOY: No, because if I’m not working, then the kids are jumping on top of me. There’s never more than three or four hours. That’s why I’m aging exponentially quickly, Hugh.

Hugh, I’m curious. What is the secret to maintaining your voice when you were performing eight performances a week?

JACKMAN: Live like a monk. Basically, live like a monk. I’m really boring. Well, Deb will tell you I’m boring a lot of the time, but I never go out after the show. I make sure I sleep, drink a lot of water, not the other drinking unfortunately, except Sunday nights. I still have a singing lesson once a week and do proper warm-ups and warm-downs. Unfortunately, there’s no easy road around it.

Lisa, jumping back to you. I read something, and I need to know if this is true, of the way you broke into the industry. You wrote a spec script. Can you talk about how you broke in the industry?

JOY: I had been sent to law school by this company, McKinsey, and when I was studying, but I had to go back to be a management consultant for them to pay off my law school debt. So while I was studying for the California bar, I completely panicked and was like… It was mostly about pantyhose. I was very concerned that I would have to wear pantyhose for the rest of my life and an Ann Taylor suit. Those just asphyxiate your crotch. They’re just so uncomfortable. I don’t think people wear them as much now, but they did. In my desperation to avoid a life consigned to pantyhose wearing, I wrote my first TV script.

Then I wanted to be an assistant, but some weird thing happened, where they staffed me. I found out when I was on a study in San Francisco, I was working in high tech at the time, which I guess came in handy for Westworld and such. But I had to quit on the spot and come back. Then I had so much law school debt, but I managed to pay it off two years ago.

JACKMAN: Two years ago.

JOY: It was about two years ago, that I paid it off.

JACKMAN: Night Lisa wrote and day Lisa was at McKinsey?

JOY: Yes. Exactly. And I wrote mostly poetry until Jonah got me software and was like, “You’re never going to make a living off of poetry,” which is unfortunately true. Yeah.

JACKMAN: If I could very inelegantly segue for Reminiscence, is quite poetic. So there you go.

JOY: It is when we’re following your voice. It could have been less poetic. I remember by the way, the first time we cut the trailer, when we hadn’t sold the film yet, and we put together a sizzle for Berlin. We had all these artwork and concept art. My team and I were looking at it, and then Hugh was kind enough to record the voiceover for it. And there was just swooning in the halls. They were like, “How does his voice alone just do that? It’s just elevated.” I was like, “That’s because he’s Hugh Jackman A.nd he’s doing the thing. This is the whole reason why we need Hugh Jackman.”

RELATED: Daniel Wu on Playing a Seductive Villain in ‘Reminiscence’ and His Favorite Jackie Chan Movie and Stunt

Hugh, you’ve played a lot of obsessed people, and you’ve given a lot to your performances. What was the toughest one to let go of after you wrapped filming?

JACKMAN: Les Mis. Les Miserables. I think there was something so… about the process. It was very intense. As the title suggests, it’s not many happy scenes in it. And it just was a really deep place. I would say, Les Mis was the hardest. I’m not a method actor by any stretch, but I think that was the one that was hardest to just get back into normal life.

JOY: When you were done shooting Les Mis, did you go home to Deb and talk in voiceover, “Tonight, we’re searching for turkey meatloaf”?


JOY: Follow my voice.

JACKMAN: Slightly lower tones. My mind was going somewhere that I’m actually not going to say in the interview.

One of the things that I love about this movie is that it’s an original piece of IP. It’s not based on existing material. It’s not a sequel. It is really hard to make these movies nowadays. Lisa, how the F did you pull this off?

JOY: Just add Hugh Jackman. That’s going to be my answer to everything. I mean, Hugh, I basically wrote Hugh a fan letter. I asked my agents. My family had worked with Hugh before and loved him. But somebody asked me this before, and they were like, “Did you use that connection?” I’m like, “How weirded out would Hugh have been if like, I’m the wife of the brother of the director you once worked with and I’d really like to work with you.”

It was like, that’s not going to go well. But what will go well is a crazy person fan letter to Hugh, talking about how I’ve written this script and only he will do. Then I was so high maintenance that I refused to send him the script, I was like, “Yeah, I’ll just pop by. I’m just in the neighborhood. I can pop by anytime.” I was in LA, he was in New York. So, when we were going to meet, I was like, “Travelocity, get me an overnight flight, get me to New York, so I can pop by and tell him about the script.”

But no, in all honesty, it truly was. I told my agents, I’m like, “Well, if it’s not Hugh, I’m not going to do it. And then no, one’s going to do it because I don’t want anyone else to do it.” So, they were like, “You don’t mean that.” I was like, “No, I 100% mean that.” So I’m glad Hugh said yes. And you saying yes…to be basically a complete indie, we didn’t have a studio, we didn’t have anything like that, and we just went to Berlin. Having Hugh as an ally, it made it A, real for me. I think certainly real for other people as well.

JACKMAN: Thank you for saying that by the way. But you’d had that script sitting there for a while.

JOY: I had.

JACKMAN: Before Westworld, I remember you telling me that. You said, “I know I wrote it, but I know I won’t be able to get it made. I need to have some runs on the board.” I think you said, “I have to have something else, and then I’ll do it.”

JOY: Yeah.

JACKMAN: So you knew that in advance.

JOY: I did. I mean, when I wrote it, the script was really well received. Again, it was just on the open market. So there were a couple interested parties. With that, I was able to leverage control over it, in terms of just how it was presented as a producer, which is something that not a lot of writers have and just benefit of the bargain, I guess. Because of that, there were other people who at times wanted to do it, but I never…I don’t think I ever really bought into their vision. It took me a while to realize it was because I had such a specific vision of my own. Even though I’m so grateful to them all for their interest and everything, I just..so it just kind of stayed with me for a long time and percolated that way. Then after I directed a Westworld, I was like, “Time to send a crazy letter to Hugh.”

JACKMAN: I’m glad you did.

RELATED: Hugh Jackman on ‘Reminiscence’ and How New Technology Was Used to Make Holograms Come to Life

One of the things that the film does, it talks about what’s going on with our environment without batting you over the head. Can you sort of talk about why you wanted to showcase what probably is going to be happening to our planet?

JOY: I mean, for me, it’s a grounded film, and I wanted people to really relate emotionally to it. I didn’t want it to be dystopian necessarily. But also, part of being a writer is you just soak up the world you live in, and you understand there are elements you can’t deny. You try to find ways to convey them without them being necessarily divisive or depressing, by basically presenting them as the facts that they are, in a sort of matter-of-fact way. Like this is happening. There’s no doubt.

It isn’t a movie about that, but it’s a movie that has to acknowledge that, that is a part of this world now. And it’s the same thing when people ask about Westworld. They talk about, “Were you responding to like the Me Too movement or whatever?” And I’m like, “No.” I’d written that before that, but we all live in this world. We understand things that are happening in this world, and they inform what we do. It doesn’t mean… I don’t like it when things are didactic. To me, this is a love story and a thriller, but I wanted to ground it in reality.

JACKMAN: There was actually articles while we were shooting, Steve. I can’t remember where I was, but there was an article basically talking about Miami, going to be a few feet under water in 20 years. Remember that? And also, Venice was … St. Mark’s Square was completely flooded. So it was sort of a happening literally while we were shooting.

JOY: Remember those giant dams that we would roll on sets to block off the roads that Howard made? Now, Miami, literally I was looking at the New York times. They have dams that look exactly like that, that they’re actually using and building to stop the water. It was a few weeks ago. It was a front page article. It’s crazy.

One of the things that I’ve learned about after talking to many different people in the industry is everyone likes to work a different way on set. Some actors like silence. Some actors love to have a good time. Some directors want silence on set and others are blasting music. What surprised you about the way the other person worked? Or just, if you want to share the way you liked to work on set.

JACKMAN: Lisa’s directed before and written a lot, but it was her first feature film. I knew how prepared she was, so I was not surprised by that. But I was surprised at how much fun we had, how relaxed it was, how much laughter there was on set. I think a lot of the scenes were really intense.

It is a love story. My character certainly has a very obsessive side and there was some really sort of emotional scenes. But the atmosphere on set was very relaxed. You and Thandiwe and then with Rebecca and I, there was a lot of laughter. Everyone from crew knew exactly what they were doing. That sort of surprised me. I’ll be honest. I love that. That’s how I like to work.

JOY: I bet you were going to say, you were surprised by how many hot dogs I could eat a day, because I was up to six.

JACKMAN: I love that.

JOY: Yeah. I remember you and Thandiwe, looking at me once and being like, “How can you eat like that? What is happening?”

JACKMAN: You don’t have to say yes when they bring them around.

JOY: No, you do. That’s how I don’t sleep. I’m fueled solely by hotdogs.

JACKMAN: And the amount of times you saying …

JOY: Baby shark.

JACKMAN: You got it. There it is.

JOY: Baby Shark was my go-to get amped thing. When there was no coffee available, I would sing Baby Shark (singing), because my kids would sing the song and it would get stuck in my head. And I knew, for instance, if we were losing light, and I started to think Baby Shark, it has a kind of frenetic tempo to it, but it’s also incredibly annoying. So all the lighting people would work faster. Everybody would just really go, because if nothing else, it would stop me from singing Baby Shark.

RELATED: ‘Reminiscence’ Trailer Teases a Mystery of the Mind From Hugh Jackman and ‘Westworld’s Lisa Joy

JACKMAN: Lisa, Steve, the first day of shooting, we were shooting the action sequence with Daniel in the bar, with Thandiwe being amazingly cool and stunts and a lot of things. And literally, the first shot, one of the first shots of the film, we got into a closeup of Thandiwe, and there’s dripping water coming down. We realize there’s a massive leak. The roof is leaking in shots. So like that was day one. Then in the second or third week, the reminiscence machine, which is the first time, and Lisa, you should talk about this by the way, because a lot of Steve’s followers will love it. But it’s the first time ever that kind of in-camera effect had ever been done, that whole hologram effect. It was a little difficult the first few days.

JOY: Oh, my God, it was a pain in the ass.

JACKMAN: Yeah, but you were surprisingly supremely calm. Trust me, when I’ve seen directors, when things are going wrong and schedules seem to be blowing up in your first day, which you didn’t, by the way, I’ve seen people lose their shit completely. You never did.

JOY: Oh, well, thank you. I mean, the thing is about set from my part, the thing that surprised me, definitely surprised me about Hugh, I could tell when we talked about the character, there were so many things that I wanted in Bannister. There was a reason why I was drawn to him, drawn to Hugh. I was like, “He looks like a hero and he’s this archetypal, heroic, handsome action star, but we’re going to go on a journey that kind of peels back some of these ideas of what masculinity and what, like the kind of noir ideas of a hero and a villain are. We’re going to try to modernize that and bring a little more nuance into it. You’re not always going to be necessarily the hero. It’s not always going to be pretty. But if there is love there, that means it’s going to be earned.”

He immediately got what I was talking about. And without any kind of vanity or thinking about … A lot of actors, they have to really think about, “What’s my image and what’s this?” Hugh is essentially a character actor in an incredibly good-looking package. It’s weird, but true. And he’s super…Deb, this is totally platonic, but you married Hugh. You know what’s up. But the skill that he has in his physical acting, even like the way he walks, the tiniest little aspects, you can tell he dials him in beforehand. And he’s just so specific and so skilled on everything. So the reason I was able to do this on this schedule and not lose my shit when things went wrong, and things always go wrong with tech and weather and yada-yada ya, is because everybody … Hugh was … He’s in almost every scene.

He has so much to do, so much action, so much dialogue, so much emotion. He was always ready, and he would stay on set with me between takes to save time. He got half naked on a train in Miami for me, to save time, because we couldn’t afford to stop and get a changing room. But it’s that kind of collaboration that … You can’t make a film like this, that attempts to have scope, but also be an original film without the 110% support of your actors. That’s the only reason I made it through.

Some movies turn out so much better in the editing room than you can never expect, and other movies, you’re like, “What happened?” How did the film ultimately come together in the editing room? What were the battles you needed to overcome to sort of put it all together?

JOY: The initial cut was long, as all initial cuts are, but I was working with Mark Yoshikawa, who is brilliant. I liked working with him, because he worked with both Malick and with Francis Lawrence. And I was like, “Well, I want to have the kind of artistry and the sensuality of some of Malick’s work, that kind of quiet, unspoken pace and beauty. But I also want to juxtapose it with adrenaline-fueled awesomeness.” To be able to combine those two flavors, I knew I needed an editor who could really speak both languages. Mark was perfect at that. I feel like when I’m writing, I tend to have …

Well, Hugh, you can speak to this. I tend to have the scenes pre-cut in my head, a lot of the time, like blocked out. The way we shot this, especially because of the Hologauze, because we did the hologram practically, I had to shoot those scenes beforehand, also imagining the composition of the final, what I call the turducken, when that scene was playing and Hugh was orbiting around it.

So composition would be something that you couldn’t see in-camera, because you had to imagine in the future, how everything was going to lay out. So happily, for this project, it was good to have that penchant for editing it together in my head. Then, of course, with Mark’s artistry, we found all sorts of new and beautiful things to add to it. But I generally do keep a cut in my head that stays pretty true.

JACKMAN: There’s a quite… It’s now famous on set. Is it online? I don’t know, Lisa, but there’s a very famous sort of … In my head, it’s like a split screen, of Lisa on the set of Westworld, talking through with the crew. It must be the day before or the morning off. So it’s without the actors. But explaining to everyone how this gunfight action scene is going to go down. It’s like savant fast, quick, explaining the plot, the emotional thing. “And you’re going to catch that over there. We’re going to get that shot, we move around here, we go back, Ed Harris, who’s going to look. We’re going to a closeup, and we go back.”

She’s moving through the entire scene, explaining it. Everyone’s just taking notes. It’s about two minutes long. Next to it is the actual finished cut scene. It’s exactly as described in the best two-minute monologue you’ve ever heard. So Lisa is no joker when she says it’s kind of pre-cut.

JOY: Were there things that surprised you, Hugh, when you saw it in the end? Were you like, “Wait a second.”?

JACKMAN: No, I was just thinking…No, I really got very few surprises at all. I think obviously, the scope of the world was something that was really fun to see. And by the way, I encourage anyone watching this, if you have an opportunity to see it at an IMAX, see it because it’s a big film, and it’s really big and beautiful. And it was lovely to see all of that.

I’ve gone back again on not answering your question, but I’ve never had an experience as an actor being on a set with the reminiscence machine, how beautiful that was. That existed for real, it is photographed in-camera. As an actor, I’m standing there, watching this thing. Some of the best acting I did in the movie was just looking like, oh, this is every day, I go to work in this machine. It’s another day and … Because it was one of the most beautiful things I ever saw. But no, not too many surprises.

JOY: It was amazing on the day, watching you interact with it. I mean, the reason … Steve, when we started this…Thankfully, I have this incredible crew who is, I suppose, as masochistic as I am, because I was like, “We are going to make this machine.” They were like, “That doesn’t exist. If holograms existed, they would be all over the place in this world. They are fiction.” I was like, “Yeah, but they can be real enough to be shot in-camera.”

So, dimensional-izing it, the way that we had to. Holograms have been filmed in a sort of planar way before, where you kind of look, but it’s more two-dimensional. But we wanted to be able to interact with it and circle it in three dimensions, and also to do it in-camera. And so that…Because, Hugh, so much of your … So many reveals happen and so much actual emotion has to happen, that it would be very hard to have done it without that, because even the eye-line would have constantly changed, because we couldn’t have just used a tennis ball. We would have to move the tennis ball and make the tennis ball go all over the place. So we had no choice, but to contend with that crazy, crazy stuff.

Hugh, I am curious, of the films that you’ve made, which of them do you think changed the most in the editing room versus what you thought you were making, if any?


JOY: That makes sense.

JACKMAN: I’m probably speaking out of school, Steve. But a week before it came out, I think it was 47 minutes longer.


JOY: Wow.

A week?

JACKMAN: I may be exaggerating or under exaggerating… It was a lot. And maybe the week is an exaggeration, but I certainly… What we shot on, I remember going, “What happened to that scene and that character/ what? Wait, whoa.” That movie from memory is about 100 minutes, I think. It was a lot longer, a lot longer, so that was definitely a big surprise to me.

JOY: Release the full cut.

You know what’s interesting about that though? I don’t think people are going to remember. Again, I know I have to go, but that was when the superhero genre was not what it is now. That film was one of the reasons the superhero genre exists today, and people won’t remember, but the studio was not enthusiastic about it in the way that they are now. That was like a battle to get that film made.

JACKMAN: Oh, yeah. And to get it out. And there were battles all the way through for sure. I remember people who I knew in Hollywood, not my agent, not Patrick and not anyone at the studio, but two or three other people who were in the know, were like, “Dude.” I finished in February and it came out July. They were like, “Make sure you got another job. The word on the street is they’re seeing it as a dud. And it’s okay. At the moment, you’re a lead in a movie in Hollywood, right? Don’t tell them it’s a comic book. That means nothing. Just say you’re a lead in the movie, and you’re at least going to get auditions, and then try and book something before it comes out, and they’ll give you one more shot.” I remember getting that advice, and I’m like, “All right, let’s get auditioning.”

I heard before Mad Max: Fury Road came out, that the film was a mess. People were bad-mouthing it. And look what that movie turned into. Sometimes the buzz on the street is not true.

JACKMAN: Never bet against George Miller.

I’m just going to say, thank you both so much for talking with me, and I wish you guys nothing but the best in this film. And the fact is that I do think that in this moment, you guys coming out in theaters and HBO Max is actually a good thing, even though I know you’d rather people see it in theatrical, just because there’s a lot of people that don’t feel safe going to a theater. And I think that people will watch it. You know what I mean?

JOY: As long as people feel safe and are safe watching it, then I’m happy if they watch it. I’m happy if anybody connects to it. I will be hiding somewhere. Actually, that’s what’s going to happen. So I’m going to go hide. If anybody knows any good hidey holes, I’m looking for one.

She also talks about the way Jackman supported her as a first-time filmmaker.

Steven Weintraub launched Collider in the summer of 2005. As Editor-in-chief, he has taken the site from a small bedroom operation to having millions of readers around the world. If you’d like to follow Steven on Twitter or Instagram, you can expect plenty of breaking news, exclusive interviews, and pictures of cats doing stupid things.

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