Buzz Uncut: John Dahl

Dahl on comedy, Kingsley and new hitman thriller You Kill Me...

The script had been knocking around a while
I think it was written like, 10 years ago. It was the guys' [Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely] first script. People liked the ideas but it was a little too quirky and didn't get made.

What did you like about it?
I liked the humour. There was a bizarre quality to it; something fresh and unique. And I liked the main character's [hitman Frank Falenczyk, played by Ben Kingsley] journey.

Why are hitmen always portrayed as lonely oddballs?
Well, would you want to get to know a killer? It's not something you can be very outspoken about! They couldn't be full of life and around too many people. It just doesn't seem right to have a happy-go-lucky, jovial killer.

Did you cast Ben Kingsley with Sexy Beast in mind?
Actually, the producers approached him and he really liked the script so he was already attached when I signed on. But had he not done /Sexy Beast/ it would have been hard to imagine him in the role.

The humour's quite low-key
I always thought of it as a black comedy, a sort of delicate balance between comedy and reality. It's more of a 'snigger' movie than a laugh-out-loud one, you know?

What did you think of Grosse Pointe Blank and The Matador?
I liked them both. I thought The Matador was interesting because it was a male-male relationship and you got to see Pierce Brosnan shed the James Bond image.

Your forte is obviously thrillers
Those are the kind of movies I like to watch. To me there's something engaging about a film that deals with life and death, moral decisions, how people respond and react in those situations. I don't imagine me doing a romantic comedy.

What's your favourite among your own films?
I like them all for different reasons. The Last Seduction because it was a little movie that nobody expected anything of; You Kill Me because nobody really knew what it was going to be. I discovered it the editing room - Scott Chestnut did a great job of putting it together. /Rounders/ was kind of fun because I knew nothing about playing cards and it's always enjoyable to do a movie in New York. And Joy Ride just because Steve Zahn was such a riot to work with!