Sharper director on how Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy helped inspire film
Benjamin Caron speaks to RadioTimes.com about making a New York film as an Englishman.
Twisty new thriller film Sharper arrives on Apple TV+ this weekend, and director Benjamin Caron – whose previous credits include episodes of The Crown and Andor – has revealed one of the inspirations behind the new film: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com, Caron explained that he had initially felt apprehensive about making a very New York-specific movie as an Englishman, before he remembered what Swedish director Tomas Alfredson had done with London in the 2011 John le Carré adaptation.
"It's tricky, I was like, 'How can an English person go to America and make this movie?'" he said. "But I sort of thought as an outsider, possibly that might offer a new perspective.
"I always remember when Tomas Alfredson came to London and made Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, I remember watching that movie and going, 'Wow, someone has shot London in a really interesting way.'
"That outsider's perspective of London had given that film a really different perspective, and I thought that's what I could do with Sharper – not be a sort of postcard view of New York and kind of lean into the sort of neo-noirness of that, shoot it on film, get Clint (Mansell) to do the score, find some really interesting needle drops that were timeless."
Caron added that he was immediately taken with the script by Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka – which he said he "inhaled" – and explained that it reminded him of many of his favourite movies from years gone by.
"I thought it was smart, I thought it was fast, I thought it was sexy, I thought it was character-driven and it felt original, which ticked all the boxes that I was looking for," he said.
"I embraced the idea of the movie being sort of non-linear, and it seemed to me a really American, very New York movie, which would allow me to explore some of the themes and some of the ideas of those character-driven thrillers that I loved going all the way back to The Sting.
"Thinking about The Color of Money, The Thomas Crown Affair, Klute – those are films that have just stayed with me, and I hadn't felt like I'd seen those for a long time. And this script that Alex and Brian had written felt like it had the same sort of DNA as that."
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Meanwhile, star Justice Smith has encouraged fans to read as little as possible about the plot before sitting down to watch the film – so that they can enjoy it in the same way he did when he first got his hands on the script.
"It was an incredible ride, reading that script," he said. "It's very difficult for me to read a script all the way through, specifically in one sitting, and I couldn't put it down – I banged it out in 45 minutes. I just was so captivated by each twist. And I never knew where it was gonna go next.
"And now I'm encouraging the audience to have that same experience to really go in blind and let us take you on this ride!"
"I think it's hard to not try and figure it out," added co-star Briana Middleton. "But I mean, definitely as an audience member, I recommend just going in blind and letting it take you."
In addition to Smith and Middleton, Sharper stars Sebastian Stan and Julianne Moore and follows events as a con artist attempts to get the better of a family of Manhattan billionaires.
Sharper will open in select cinemas, and streams on Apple TV+ from 17th February – you can sign up to Apple TV+ here.