The Girl Who Knew Too Much: Bong Joon-ho Interviews Edgar Wright about Wright’s Exhilarating, ’60s-Set Psychological Thriller, Last Night in Soho
“A unique collision of private and public fantasy took place in the 1960s, and may have to wait some years to be repeated, if ever,” J. G. Ballard said in an interview contained within the 1983 reissue of his experimental novel, The Atrocity Exhibition. In Ballard’s view, the decade’s political and cultural jolts, coupled with the rise of mass media, produced what he called in another interview “a peculiar psychological climate…” a “landscape around us that was almost like a gigantic novel; we were living more and more inside a strange, enormous work of fiction.”
Eloise, the 18-year-old heroine of Edgar Wright’s thrilling new horror film, Last Night in Soho, is obsessed with the ’60s: in her case, a particular cultural moment, the mid-’60s Swinging London where designers and artists and musicians created marketable youth culture from the shards of Mod rebellion. Were she anything other than a budding fashion designer, Eloise’s fixation on an era decades before her birth could be seen as a bit misguided or just escapist. But, in actuality, even though her tastes are out of step with her more contempo first-year fashion academy classmates, Eloise’s eye for patterned skirts and ear for pop chanteuses may be something of a superpower. After all, in fashion, a style is old only until the moment it is willed into becoming new again.
In Last Night in Soho, Eloise—played by Thomasin McKenzie in a wired, exhilarating performance—checks out of mindless dorm life for her own flat in London’s Soho district, still to this day a checkerboard of theaters, nightclubs and sex shops. The flickering neon sign outside her window, coupled with a freshman’s nighttime anxieties (or, possibly, inherited mental illness), lure her into strange dreams in which she seems to actually travel back in time to the ’60s, where she meets a kind of double—Sandie, a blonde-bobbed nightclub singer on the rise (a hypnotic Anya Taylor-Joy). Her nocturnal meetups with Sandie, in which she lives vicariously through the singer, create a delirious double life for Eloise—one that’s thrilling until it’s suddenly not. For all her talent (indeed, Taylor-Joy’s sultry cover of “Downtown,” popularized by Petula Clark, is a first-act showstopper), Sandie is also prey for the neighborhood’s darker figures, from raptorial managers to, possibly, a killer lurking in dark streets. Suddenly, as in A Nightmare on Elm Street, dreams are places to escape from, not to, but for Eloise such release is impossible when there’s a mystery to solve and a woman’s life is on the line.
Last Night in Soho is being marketed (accurately) as a psychological thriller, its trailer teasing all of the film’s giallo flourishes. Yet there’s also much joy in the film, particularly in the first half, when moments of dark foreshadowing are deftly and satisfyingly overwhelmed by the sensory pleasures of Wright’s spectacular period mise-en-scène, an explosion of color, activity and vibrant recreation. Eloise’s striding down Coventry Street and entering the Café de Paris nightclub, where she has her astonishing first encounter with Sandie, is a rapturous Steadicam tour de force and masterful use of the club’s mirrored walls—all the more impressive when you learn, as Wright details in the interview below, the production details of what went into it.
In previous films, Wright has applied a pop-satiric spin and visual invention to genres such as the zombie film (Shaun of the Dead), invasion apocalypse drama (The World’s End) and getaway movie (Baby Driver). Comparative innocents navigating increasingly baroque environments are his métier, and in the end, Last Night in Soho is also something of a bildungsroman, and even an optimistic one—if you choose to read it that way.
To interview Wright we’re honored to have Bong Joon-ho, the Oscar-winning director of Parasite, Okja, Snowpiercer and Memories of Murder, among others. Friends and colleagues, they share traits and influences—both approach their filmmaking through precise storyboards and shot compositions, are naturally mainlined into an audience’s fears and desires and, as Bong admits here, are both “film geeks” whose work appreciates and lovingly jousts with the art form’s greats. Their conversation below touches on many topics, including the film’s long gestation period, the nuances and rhythms of casting, balancing expertly planned set pieces with run-and-gun guerrilla filmmaking on the same shooting day, and, finally, what is for Wright the personal meaning of the film. Last Night in Soho is in theaters October 29 from Focus Features.
— Scott Macaulay
Bong: So, Edgar, I know that the original idea for this film came to you quite long ago, and I’m sure that’s one of the reasons you were maybe a little anxious at the premiere screening, because you held onto it for so long. When did that idea first come to you?
Wright: I can take it back to when I started making a playlist for the movie sometime in 2007 or 2008. [I had] the sense of the type of movie I wanted to make and where I wanted to make it. A big part of that, obviously, is just spending a lot of time in Soho. I’ve lived in London for 26 years; more recently, in the last five years, I’ve actually started living very close to Soho—in fact, only one street away from where Thomasin McKenzie lives in the movie. I can literally see the window of her house from my balcony. So, it’s like the film has really come to haunt me in a very everyday way [laughs].
Bong: So, for you, it’s really just about your neighborhood.
Wright: I guess it is! Soho is a notorious and famous square mile in London where the buildings are hundreds of years old, and I just can’t help thinking about what those walls have seen. The shadows of the past really loom large there, and not just in terms of ’60s culture—Soho as the epicenter of cool in terms of film and fashion and music—but also the crime, underworld and sex industry that has always coexisted with the heights of show business. That was always something that I found very compelling and strange: You would have the fanciest Members Club in London directly opposite a brothel, and people just accept it as a normal thing in Soho.
Bong: It’s maybe the first time you have used the name of a town or city in the title of the movie. The World’s End also focused on one neighborhood, but Last Night in Soho truly reflects the essence of this town, this sense of place. What kind of conversations did you have with your production designer in terms of recreating this neighborhood? What was your visual approach?
Wright: The number one challenge—but also a reason to make the film, full stop—was that Central London, especially Soho, is not an area you have really seen on screen in the last 20 years, with the exception of two Michael Winterbottom films that did it in a more indie, guerrilla-style way. Soho is a very difficult place to film because it is one of the few areas of London that is 24/7. The first conversations I had with Marcus Rowland, my production designer, were on a practical level about locations. I’d written the script and wanted to shoot in the actual places. [I’d ask] our location manager, Camilla Stephenson, “Is this doable?” Because sometimes when other films portray ’60s Soho—a recent example would be the Tom Hardy film, Legend—they shoot in a different area of town and recreate the streets. But we decided, “No, we’re going to do it in the real Soho.”
The key was getting the City of Westminster, the center of London, to play ball. Which they ended up doing, but we had to give them lots of notice—about three months for normal road closures, four to five months for closures at the Haymarket to film the big tracking shot. We knew we were going to shoot it over the summer, and Camilla was hired long ahead of the shoot, because we had to lock down these streets. The complicated thing is that once you get the streets locked down, you’re tied into specific dates. We had a particular Sunday to shoot the first sequence when Eloise goes out into the street. If it was raining or anything went wrong—well, that’s the Sunday we’re shooting that bit, and it’s been in the city diary for five months.
I can only describe doing those [Soho] sequences as a war of attrition. The only way to do it was to dress all the streets and flood them with period extras to push the modern world out. You can close roads, but you can’t stop the public from walking through a shot. Some of those shots I was amazed we pulled them off at all. There’s one where Matt Smith and Anya Taylor-Joy are driving up a street in Soho, turn a corner and go down a whole other street. It’s really in Soho. Marcus Rowland dressed all the streets, then in the distance there’s some digital work, where DNEG [the VFX company Double Negative] and our VFX supervisor, Tom Proctor, took out modern stuff and some tourists in the deep background. I always think the best digital effects are when they’re combined with physical effects.
When we were shooting that scene where Matt Smith and Anya Taylor-Joy are driving up the street, around the corner at the same time we had a Steadicam in a rickshaw filming Thomasin McKenzie and the other girls walking up Old Compton Street, one of the busiest streets in Soho—essentially [shooting] with a hidden camera, because people were fixated on Matt and Anya around the corner in their period dress. So, those shots where they’re walking through the street are done with a hidden camera whilst we were shooting another bit, which is crazy, but it was one way to pull off shots that would be difficult to do.
Bong: When I was shooting Okja in New York, I only had one weekend to shoot in Wall Street and remember that just being a total nightmare. Soho is one of the busiest towns in the world, so I was really curious how you managed to shoot at all. But Café de Paris, that was on a soundstage, am I correct?
Bong: Even though it’s really about Soho, I felt like Café de Paris was the prime location, where you see some of the key visual motifs. I thought you made some really bold choices in that location, where I saw a lot of your cinematic ambitions flow throughout. When Eloise first enters the Café, that was such an overwhelming sequence. While I was watching it, I kept trying to imagine your storyboard, because it was such an ambitious scene. I’d like to hear more about how you shot that sequence.
Wright: The interesting thing about Café de Paris is that it still actually exist[ed] as a club [editor’s note: still open during the shoot, the venue closed permanently in December 2020 as a result of the pandemic]. In fact, it’s quite a famous shooting location—tons of music videos have been done there and lots of British films, like Michael Caton-Jones’s Scandal or Julien Temple’s Absolute Beginners. But what we wanted to achieve in the sequence was quite challenging and required a bit more space than the location could offer. Also, it’s still a working club, and they needed it back at night. It was cheaper to build the set than shoot in the real one, so we built it and made it a little bigger than the original—I figured since it’s a dream sequence, we were allowed to do [that]. Because of that, it meant that we could design shots you just couldn’t do on location. For example, when Thomasin McKenzie first comes into the lobby and there’s the first mirror shot with Anya, that’s actually a double set. It’s a double lobby and there’s a mirror there, then when one of the maître d’s, who’s played by Oliver Phelps, takes [Thomasin’s] coat and walks in front of the camera, the mirror slides back revealing Anya and James Phelps, his identical twin brother, also in a maître d costume. It’s basically a Magic Circle shot. It’s also choreographed to the song [Cilla Black’s “You’re My World”] as well. Choreographing everything to a song might seem restrictive, but it isn’t really—we know [Thomasin] is going to walk out into the street to the first chorus, she’s going to see Anya on the second chorus, then she’s going to walk into the club on the third chorus, so you can choreograph movement to those specific moments. And when Anya and Thomasin come together opposite each other for real and touch their fingers on the glass, there’s no glass there at all. They are literally tapping their fingers.
Bong: How many times did you shoot this?
Wright: I can’t remember how many takes that was, but for some of those really complicated shots, we would have Saturday rehearsals. We’d be shooting a five-day week, then on a Saturday we’d ask the cast and a couple of key crew members, like choreographer Jen White, Chung Chung-hoon and especially the camera operator, Chris Bain, to rehearse in the afternoon. There’s no point doing those complicated shots if the camera operator isn’t there [at a rehearsal]. It’s always the mistake people make with choreography sequences—they do the choreography in the studio, and the director and dancers or actors know what they’re doing, but the key person to have there is the camera operator because he or she needs to be in exactly the right spot. The floor is taped up with [all these marks] and we rehearse over and over—“one, two, three.” Later in the sequence, when the actors are dancing on the floor, there’s a long Steadicam take that’s done without motion control. It’s all based on the actors and camera operator being in the right spots at the right time. With the exception of one section, which had a second pass on it, everything is done in-camera. Thomasin and Anya are hiding behind the Steadicam, then switching around. It took about 18 or 20 takes for that one. We rehearsed a lot.
There was also a funny thing that happened when we did that shot on the dance floor. Initially Chung had this little mirrored blade, and he liked to flash his torch into the lens so you get some real flares. During the first couple of takes of that dance floor sequence, Matt Smith [was] in the middle and then Anya and Thomasin were dancing around him, then the camera operator [was] moving around them in a bigger circumference, and Chung was trying to flash the lens, running around an even larger circumference to the Steadicam operator. [laughs] After a couple of takes, Chung goes, “Too difficult! Do the flare later. ” [laughs]
The real thrill for me with all those sequences was to try and figure out how to do as much of them in-camera as possible, so that the actors could really physically be there and act opposite each other, especially in scenes when Thomasin and Anya are playing each other’s reflections. There was lots of trickery where it’s half-practical, half-digital.
Bong: As filmmakers, more than anything else, we’re just huge cinephiles, and I think when we’re shooting an ambitious sequence like that, we’re always conscious of our predecessors. When I watched that Café de Paris sequence I felt that you might have thought of The Lady from Shanghai by Orson Welles or some of the Steadicam shots in Brian De Palma’s movies. Were there any sequences or directors you were paying homage to or maybe competing with? Were you conscious of any reference points?
Wright: I think all the things you mentioned are dead on. The entire film is inspired by a feeling that I get from some of those films, whether it’s De Palma or Lady from Shanghai, but also Hitchcock and Italian directors like Mario Bava and Dario Argento. Cocteau’s Orpheus inspired me in terms of finding a way to visualize dreams. Something I saw when I was a teenager that struck me in a very profound way was Buñuel’s last film, That Obscure Object of Desire, and the idea of two actresses alternating scenes. I would always have dreams where I knew I was somebody else—not looking in a mirror and seeing somebody else, but just the feeling that I’m experiencing a dream through somebody else’s body and face. So, it was bringing all of those things together. In the Buñuel film, they never have the actresses in the same shot, they just alternate scenes, but I thought, “Well, what if it’s almost as if the baton is being passed?” You see the other person in the mirror, then there’s a handoff. Now Thomasin is on the other side and Anya is the lead in these sequences.
Something I like in Hitchcock and De Palma films—this goes for some of the Italian filmmakers as well—is when things become operatic, in that they don’t really make sense in a physical way but make sense in some kind of dream logic. That was the feeling I wanted in the entire film: What if you had sequences that were clearly dreams, then at a certain point in the movie it all starts to feel like a waking dream? For the second half of the movie, Thomasin McKenzie is so sleep deprived that it’s similar to that manic state when you’re having a lucid waking nightmare.
One other filmmaker we didn’t mention who had a huge influence on me was Michael Powell, and two of his films specifically, Black Narcissus and Peeping Tom. In the former, I love how the use of color is so expressionistic and emotional. Then with the latter I was so inspired by Peeping Tom that I actually used two of its famous locations in Soho. The newsagent that Thomasin McKenzie goes into at the start of the movie is the same newsagent from Peeping Tom—still there, 60 years later. Then the pub they run past towards the end of the film is from the opening of that movie. Again, these locations are not far away from where I live. So, when I say I can’t escape it, I literally can’t escape it. It’s something I walk past every day.
Bong: Last Night in Soho is a very complex story with a lot of layers, a lot of secrets hidden underneath. I think it might be your first official psychological thriller film. I’m wondering if your pursuit of this genre has something to do with working with Chung Chung-hoon for the first time, since he’s done genre movies like Oldboy and It.
Wright: I guess the idea for the psychological thriller [first] came from the concept of doing this twin narrative. I sometimes feel slightly crippled by this nostalgia that I have—the idea of not just being obsessed with the past but also the idea of going back—but that’s always tempered by this nagging feeling that it would be a really bad idea. Thinking about the ’60s: If you were a cultural time traveler, you’d ideally want to go back and just experience the good times, but of course, you can’t have the good without the bad.
So, there was that element to it. Then I was reading a lot about film history and show business and feeling this aching loss for people who died too young, careers that didn’t happen, as well as cold cases in crime, a killer that was never caught or victims who just disappeared. I read this coffee table book called Hammer Glamour, which somebody had given me as a present, a compendium of all the biographies of Hammer actresses. I was struck that one in three ended in tragedy. You couldn’t get around the fact that so many lives had been cut short by murder, addiction, suicide or some other terrible tragedy.
Another element was watching a lot of ’60s dramas. I was really struck by the amount of “young girl comes to the big city and is punished for the audacity of wanting to be a star” movies. There were a lot of those films made in the ’60s that seemed like the old guard slapping the rest of the younger generation—as if saying, “How dare you want to be independent and make it on your own!” So, it all started to tie up in this idea of, “Well, what if you see two of these stories at the same time?” You see a young girl come to London in the modern day, but she’s disappointed with contemporary life and is obsessed with the ’60s. Then she gets to go back and experience this other life which seems like everything that she wished her own London experience was, until it isn’t. By that point, it’s like a rollercoaster she can’t get off.
Chung came on board part way through our pre-production, because eight weeks out from shooting, my regular DP, Bill Pope, who was with us in London prepping the movie, had to go back to the US for family reasons. So I had to interview new DPs, one of whom was Chung Chung-hoon. He was the only person that I didn’t meet in person because he was shooting another
movie in the States at the time. I was obviously a huge fan of what he had done in [Park Chan-wook’s] Oldboy, Thirst and The Handmaiden. He was really excited about the idea of it, and my only slight seed of doubt was just that I hadn’t met him in person and he’d be coming straight over from this other movie to do mine. Nira Park, my producer, said, “If you don’t hire Chung, you’ll always be thinking about what the Chung version of the movie looks like.” I replied, “That is a very good point. He’s hired.” Park Chan-wook does storyboards for every shot, and Chung said straight away, “You work in a very similar way to Director Park—you’ve drawn the entire thing.” Also, obviously I’m a British director making a film in London, but there are a lot of great London films made by people from other countries—Joseph Losey’s The Servant, Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up, to name three. It’s always interesting when you get the eye of somebody from another country to shoot, and he was amazing. The thing I wasn’t expecting with Chung, given how dark most of his movies are, was how funny he was going to be. Shoots are never fun for the director because it’s so intense just getting through your day, and this film had a lot of intense sequences in it. The thing that kept me going a lot of the time was Chung’s sense of humor—even if I was incredibly stressed out, he would always be able to make me laugh.
Bong: Chung Chung-hoon used to be a child actor, so he has that performative streak in him.
Wright: Naughty Charlie. I saw a clip of his show!
Bong: Yeah, it was a really popular long-running children’s show. So, of course I have to talk about the cast. Thomasin and Anya, they’re so amazing, and it’s really interesting how similar they are and how different they are, and how you play with similarity and contrast. Who joined the cast first and who became the anchor for the other?
Wright: There’s a funny story to do with that. I had the story for the film for a long time to the point where I’d started developing it, at first with Film4. I had hired this amazing researcher, Lucy Pardee, to research everything about Soho so it could come from a grounded place. But I hadn’t written a word of the screenplay, as I was busy with The World’s End and Baby Driver. Later, I was on the jury at Sundance in 2015 and saw Anya for the first time in Robert Eggers’s The Witch. And even though I hadn’t written a word of the script, I said aloud, “She should be the lead of my Soho movie”—which, at this point, didn’t even have a title. So, I met her in L.A. after Sundance and told her the entire story that was in my head. She goes, “I want to be a part of that movie. That sounds amazing!” I said, “When I write the screenplay, you’ll be the first to get it.”
At that point, in 2015, I thought Anya should play Eloise, the main part. When Krysty Wilson-Cairns and I actually started writing the screenplay three years later, I had seen Anya in a number of other films, including M. Night Shyamalan’s Split and Cory Finley’s Thoroughbreds. It’s not as though previously I’d seen her do the Eloise part when I was considering her for it, specifically, but now since we’d first met I had seen her develop as an actress and start to grow up on camera, and the Sandie role, the ’60s thread, was getting bigger. We were writing more dialogue scenes for that part and wrote the audition scene, which wasn’t in my original outline. And even beyond seeing Anya on screen, just seeing her on the red carpet and in fashion magazines, I was thinking, “She should be the ’60s character.” It would be like seeing Julie Christie in Darling—you’d say, “Oh my God. Who is this star?” So, when I sent Anya the screenplay to read for Sandie, I was a little nervous, but she got back to me right away and said, “I read it, I would love to do it and I would love to play Sandie.”
As soon as she had agreed to do Sandie, it was an open brief of who’s going to play Eloise. Nira said, “Have you seen Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace? What about the girl who plays the daughter?” I had thought Thomasin McKenzie was exceptional in that film but didn’t know how old she was. We found out she was 17, so by the time we’d start shooting she would be 18, and Eloise the character is an 18-year-old girl coming to London. It was one of those rare occasions where you get to cast somebody who’s exactly the same age as the character, and that can be quite a powerful thing. So, I met Thomasin in L.A. and she loved the script. She’s such an interesting actress—she’s got that combination of fragility and strength at the same time, so it was an exciting prospect to have her do the part—even more so because she’s from New Zealand, and coming to London to shoot the movie in the same way that Eloise is coming to London to go to college. Eloise is in every single scene, and [Thomasin] really holds the film together because you’re seeing everything subjectively through her.
In all of Anya and Thomasin’s scenes together, they’re mirroring each other. So, even though they don’t really have too much dialogue together, they’ve formed a sisterly bond—they’re joined at the hip, like twins. As they started working together, it was like a trust exercise, because all their choreography at the start is mirroring each other, but then there’s a point where they start to break off, and that’s where [the film] becomes more dissonant.
Bong: I was also very impressed by Michael Ajao. I think he added a light-hearted touch to a very dark and ominous story, so I wanted to know more about that actor because I haven’t really seen him that much.
Wright: He was in Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block as a 10- year-old, and now he’s 20. It was great having Michael in the movie because, like his character, he’s from South London. His jokes about the difference between North London and South London make me laugh, but also, I think, he really feels it sincerely. It’s a genuinely strange thing: It’s only a three-mile journey from where he lives to where the movie is set but a world of difference. There’s a line that Michael says in the film so earnestly. He’s trying to sympathize with Thomasin and says, “The city can be tough, man. I’ll be honest, I’m not having the best time in North London so far.” And she asks, “Where did you move from?” “South London”—he says it dead straight, and you know that he really means it, and that makes it even funnier. He really is such a sweet presence in the movie, and without giving too much away, it would be fair to say he’s essentially the only nice man in the entire film. [laughs] I think when you’re working in the realm of psychological thriller or horror, the worst thing is when you don’t care whether a character makes it or not. There are moments in this film when you’re concerned for Thomasin and Michael’s well-being. Obviously, you have to write those parts, but you also have to have actors that are very sympathetic to make that work.
Bong: In Baby Driver, your previous film, the main character has a strange sense of naïveté. Although he’s involved in crimes and part of the criminal world, he’s almost a little bit separate from all that and maintains that sort of innocence. Ansel Elgort really carried that sensibility in the film. So, if in Baby Driver, it’s innocence and crime, here it’s innocence and the fall of a woman, and that contrast really creates the film’s tension. But unlike Baby Driver, these two elements are represented by two actors who mirror and constantly intersect with one another. I’m wondering about what your screenwriting process was for balancing those two elements, this contrast.
Wright: I guess the inspiration was that it’s the tragedy of the wrong turn—being in the right place at the right time but meeting the wrong person and being tricked into going down the wrong path. There’s an element in the film where it seems like Thomasin’s character might be able to save Anya’s character, but she’s not Marty McFly in the ’50s with the power to change the future. I think about time travel a lot—there’s the terror of going back and not being able to do anything, not being able to change the future. If I’m trying to teach myself a lesson, or cure myself of something, [in this film] it’s the brutal truth that you cannot go back and change what’s done, you can only move forward in the present. I know that isn’t exactly what the story is about, but it’s a big thing that’s powering it. Maybe that’s quite a bleak takeaway from the film, but it’s something I think about a lot.
I guess all of my films are quite experiential in that you follow the main character in every single scene. You’re getting to live vicariously through something, and in the case of some of my films, there’s usually an element of wish fulfillment. With Shaun of the Dead, you get to be Shaun and survive this zombie apocalypse. With Baby Driver, I’ve never been a getaway driver in a car chase, but by making the movie and seeing it through that character’s eyes, it was a way for me to live vicariously through that. But this is a different prospect, because you’re experiencing something you don’t want to witness at all. You want to be able to stop it and you can’t.
Bong: As someone who’s watched all of your films, I feel like a lot of your stories are about these innocent and sometimes nerdy characters getting trapped in difficult and strange situations and getting through them, overcoming them. But with this film, I felt like something was different. I felt like you were really heading straight into this fiery pit of tragedy—a new element to your filmography, the beginning of a new chapter for you. It made me look forward to your future films because it made me realize you will just continue on this cinematic journey, constantly reinventing your stories.
Wright: What you just said is incredibly flattering—and also ironic, because that’s exactly how I feel about your films. We’re friends, but before we met, I was also a fan of your work and felt exactly the same way, in that I just wanted to see what you’d do next. This film was definitely a challenging prospect for me. I think if you’re doing something in the horror or the psychological thriller genre, you also have to tackle a subject that makes you uncomfortable. If it’s something you’re completely comfortable making, you’re probably doing something wrong. You can’t really go to work and be complacent about what it all means. I think the difference with this film and my previous ones is that the central conflict cannot be solved, but rather only dealt with. There’s no war to win. It’s a tragedy and there’s no easy way out. You know when you see horror movies and they tie up very neatly at the end, and it sometimes can feel a little bogus in a way? I wanted to avoid that. This film ends more with a dangling thread. Not to give too much away about the final scene, but you could interpret it as too good to be true. I always like those kind of endings.
Bong: Sometimes I like to imagine what it was like in the ’60s and ’70s when Hitchcock’s films premiered in theaters, because, people of our generation watched his films through DVD and VHS. For example, Psycho, I wonder how the audience reacted when the big secret was revealed, when they fall into the trap that Hitchcock set up for them. I imagine hundreds of people gasping at the same moment, and it’s almost like Hitchcock is sort of suffocating the audience. I would love to have experienced that, and I think that’s the power of movie theaters. And with Soho, there are moments when you, as a director, sort of grasp the audience and suffocate them. I was very glad to witness those moments in Venice.
Wright: Well, it’s funny. In a strange way, when I think about the idea of what Eloise does in the film, about going back to the ’60s as essentially a time traveler in dreams, I wouldn’t want to get caught up in the dark underworld. I’d just like to go and see ’60s films with an audience at the time. [laughs] So, if I was in Last Night in Soho, I’d say, “Wait, where’s Psycho playing?” I want to go and see that with a packed house. People use the word “manipulative” as a derogatory term, but obviously, in the hands of a master like Hitchcock, you as an audience member want to be his puppet. There’s this Machiavellian glee he has—“I am making you look where you don’t want to look!” It’s amazing. I saw most of his movies I saw for the first time on TV or VHS, but the idea of seeing any of them for the first time with an audience in a pre-internet age—wouldn’t that be something?