Richard Linklater On A Scanner Darkly
by Edward Douglas
Richard Linklater has been doing the rounds for his latest movie, Before Sunset, a sequel to his 1995 indie favorite Before Sunrise, that opens in major cities this weekend. While in town, he talked to Coming Soon about his latest passion, his animated adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly, starring Keanu Reeves:
CS!: What is this movie about?
Linklater: “It’s kind of a drug movie. It’s set in the near future in the middle of a drug epidemic. It’s going to be animated. I just shot the live action portion, but ultimately, it’s an animated film using a similar rotoscoping process that I used in Waking Life. It’s the same software, but it’s been updated. [Animator] Bob Sabiston continues to work on it, so the animation is at an interesting place. It will have a different look that I think will work with the story well. I’ve been wanting to do another animated film, so I’m glad I got the chance.”
CS!: What made you want to do this movie? Were you a big science fiction fan?
Linklater: “I was as a teenager, but I let it go a long time ago. I can’t say that I am in a typical sense, but I do like Phillip K. Dick and I’ve read quite a bit of his stuff. A Scanner Darkly is one of my favorites of his, because it seemed the most personal. I was lucky enough to get an option on it a few years ago, so I just wrote an adaptation of it and thought it would be an interesting animated movie. It’s not really that science fiction either. To me, it has one science fiction element, but beyond that, it’s pretty realistic. I love that about Dick’s stuff: paranoia plus a generation equal reality. It’s like we’re living in his science fiction as we speak, so it seemed really timely to me.”
CS!: Many of Phillip K. Dick’s stories have been turned into action films. What is going to be your take on this one?
Linklater: “A lot of Phillip K. Dick’s stories and novels have always been adapted, but usually, they are taking some cool idea and making it work in some genre like an action film, and that can work. I like that novel so much that I wanted to do that story and I want to be very faithful and tell the whole story. What drives me crazy is that I think Phil K. Dick is hilarious. He’s a really funny writer. I laugh when I read the books or I chuckle, and I wanted to make a movie like that. It’s really darkly funny. I’m kind of making a comedy, but it’s a weird comedy. Who knows how I pull it off, but I approached it like that. I hung out with his daughters a lot, and they liked my approach to it. They liked that someone was actually doing the story, not just plucking an idea and running with it. This is the story. This is that book. It feels pretty good. Keanu is great as Bob [Arctor], the lead character. He’s an interesting guy. His thinking is such that I thought he would be perfect.”