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Drew Goddard Interview: Bad Times at the El Royale

Drew Goddard is a film and television screenwriter, director, and producer.  He has worked on television shows like Lost, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Netflix’s Daredevil. Goddard made his directorial feature film debut with 2012’s The Cabin in the Woods and he received an Academy Award nomination for his screenplay adaptation of The Martian.  His most recent project is Bad Times at the El Royale which he wrote and directed.  The mystery-thriller follows seven strangers in a hotel that each have a dark secret.  Bad Times at the El Royale hits theaters October 12, 2018.

Screen Rant: What was the inspiration for the El Royale? Was it really Cal Neva?

Drew Goddard: Certainly, there's a hotel called the Cal Neva that had a lot of conspiracy theories. So, that was one of the hotels. But there's a lot of hotels that are sort of infamous for being voyeur hotels and that certainly played a big part of the hotel as well.

Screen Rant: Now, there is a lot of Easter eggs, if you will, in this movie. But what I'm curious about first is, what was the first scene you visualized for this movie?

Drew Goddard: Yeah. The very first scene would have been the lobby check-in. Which was basically, all of the characters showing up and trying to check-in at the exact same time. I sort of started with that.  Not knowing where the movie was going to take me. Just thought, ‘Okay, let's see if I can get my favorite actors on the planet to show up all at the same time in a movie.’ You'd see where we go.

Screen Rant: And you got some heavy hitter actors in this. You called it your dream cast.

Drew Goddard: Yes. Without question.

Screen Rant: How did you pull it together? How did you get everybody excited about this?

Drew Goddard: You start with the script. You try to write a script that will get actors excited. And then we took that script and send it to Jeff Bridges first.  And then Jeff said yes right away, which made my life so much easier. Because what you learn is everyone wants to work with Jeff Bridges. So, when you have Jeff, the dominoes fall quite quickly.

Screen Rant: He had an interesting role. Was he also the set photographer on this?

Drew Goddard: The fun part about Hiring Jeff Bridges is he wears many hats. He was also our set photographer at times and published his book based on the making of our movie which is gorgeous.

Screen Rant: It’s a great piece. How was the process with the music? The music is in the foreground of this film.

Drew Goddard: Yeah. I write very much to music. That's my process. And so, I had the music before I even had the script. I was just sort of figuring out my playlist and go, ‘Okay, this is the vibe, the emotion of the film. Now let's see what song goes with what scene.’

Screen Rant: Now, we have a few publications online. We get a lot of questions when people know who we're going to talk to you. The big question for you is, ‘Now that the Fox Disney merger is a real thing, what's in the future for X-Force? Is that happening?

Drew Goddard: I don't know. I mean, I hope that there is a future for it.  But the truth is, these are above my pay grade problems. And I don't really know the ins and outs of billion dollar mergers to be honest with you.

Screen Rant: Have you thought about that project though?

Drew Goddard: Certainly. I mean, I love that cast. I love thinking about that world and we'll see what happens.

Screen Rant: So, what is next for you?

Drew Goddard: What's next for me is to enjoy this movie.  It was a very fun movie to see with audiences and I look forward to doing that.

More: Read Screen Rant's Bad Times at the El Royale Review

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