Luther: The Fallen Sun Interview: Neil Cross & Jamie Payne on Transition from TV to Film
ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke with Neil Cross and Jamie Payne, the respective writer and director of Luther: The Fallen Sun. The duo spoke about collaborating on previous projects and turning the popular series into a movie. The movie will debut on Netflix on March 10.
“In Luther: The Fallen Sun — an epic continuation of the award-winning television saga reimagined for film — a gruesome serial killer is terrorizing London while brilliant but disgraced detective John Luther (Idris Elba) sits behind bars,” reads the film’s logline. “Haunted by his failure to capture the cyber psychopath who now taunts him, Luther decides to break out of prison to finish the job by any means necessary.”
Tyler Treese: Neil, what was it about this creative pairing that made it so when it was time to do this movie, you knew that Jamie was the man to direct?
Neil Cross: Well, you know what, it’s just like the grown-ups told you when you were a kid — when it’s right, you know it’s right. We had a fantastic time working on — Jamie and I had worked together a long time ago on a show called Dr. Who, and it was an experience we both very much enjoyed, and I’m very proud of that episode as well.
But it seemed to me that Season 5 of Luther — as directed by Jamie — was pretty much near enough the perfect end. It was the best version of Luther we’d done. Jamie’s ambition drove it to new levels, and I kind of knew that we’d told the story of Detective Chief Inspector John Luther. That was the end of it. It reached its natural conclusion. I knew that the story of John Luther was ready to continue, and I knew that we’d found the right team to do it. Us three.
Jamie, Luther worked as a movie so well. Were there any creative or technical difficulties in the transition from series to a movie? You’re dealing with a larger scope, but less overall time compared to a season?
I think our biggest responsibility was protecting the DNA of what made it great and popular in the first place and not denying the fans the importance of that continuation, but also allowing it to be a standalone film so that we could bring in a whole new audience that then could enjoy the series. But I think the thing that excited me most was having a feature-length story and a story that allowed us to move and breathe with John Luther under extreme pressure, uninterrupted for that length of time. The great thing about the support we had from Netflix is that they gave the time and resource for me to prep that in a way that I’ve never had before. I think with that script and their support, that transcription wasn’t as painful as you might imagine it to be.
Neil, with this being a movie on Netflix, that means that this will be a lot of people’s first experience with Luther. As Jamie said, you crafted a story that works very well as a standalone entry. Can you speak to trying to balance that while living in that history, so fans of the series can really appreciate what you did while also making it suitable for newcomers?
I wish I could tell you that that was easy and that I went into this with a plan, knowing what I was doing. And I didn’t. It was the hardest aspect of the entire thing. I knew it was incredibly important — singularly important — to all of us, that we acknowledge the debt of obligation to the existing audience. But it was equally important that we invite in an audience completely unfamiliar with the show, with no cost of entry, with no barriers, with no sense that they had to understand private jokes or 13 years of lore in order to understand the show. The truth is that it was an iterative process.
We tried different things, we tried different approaches. I overwrote it, I underwrote it, we talked about it, I wrote some more, we shot some stuff, we edited that stuff, we edited that stuff again. And much like the first line of a novel is often the last line to be written, Jamie and I were discussing the first five to six minutes of this movie right until the very, very end of post-production. I wish I was one of those guys who knew what he was doing. I’m just not.
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