Movie crew gives insider’s view

By Amanda Meade

Scene/Mix Editor

Steven Spielberg came up with the concept for a film 10 years ago. But, he was concerned that the idea was a little ahead of its time because technology wasn’t as prevalent then it is today. Spielberg wanted people to walk out of the theater and turn off their cell phones because they were afraid of them, the way they were afraid of the ocean after seeing “Jaws.”

That idea will be brought to the big screen in the new film “Eagle Eye,” which opens Sept. 26.

D.J. Caruso, the film’s director, and stars Billy Bob Thornton and Michael Chicklis shared their thoughts on technology, their involvement in the film and advice for college students hoping to break into the movie business during a press conference on Sept. 13. College publications from all over the nation took part in the conference call, including The Oakland Post.

“Eagle Eye” is about two strangers (played by Shia LeBeouf and Michelle Monaghan) who meet under unusual circumstances. Each receives a mysterious phone call from a woman they have never met. Afterwards, their lives and their family are threatened; the technology that they depend on every day is turned against them.

Technology’s role

Caruso, who also directed “Disturbia” and several episodes of “The Shield,” said he believes that technology has invited “Big Brother” in.

“It dawned on me that we’re always so afraid of 1984 and our Orwellian ‘Big Brother’ invading our lives,” Caruso said. “With this great technology that we have, the technology that we love, the Blackberrys, the iPhones, the computers, the e-mails, everything that we love about technology has made our life easier.”  

While some of us couldn’t imagine life without technology, Thornton, who starred in “Bad Santa” and wrote, directed and starred in “Sling Blade,” is less concerned with it.

“I’m big on privacy. I only got a cell phone two years ago; I couldn’t tell you how to take a picture on it,” Thornton said.

Involvement in the film

Chicklis found his role to be a stretch from his character as a detective in “The Shield.”

“If the seats had seat belts I’d put one on. It is really one of those thrill-ride, break-neck paced movies that just keeps you on the edge of your seat,” said Chicklis. “It’s a story about two ordinary people placed in really extraordinary situations and they don’t know why, for quite awhile, what’s happening is happening to them.”

Caruso previously worked for Spielberg, directing several episodes of “High Incident,” a television series Spielberg created. Caruso said that Spielberg followed his career and liked what he was doing.

“He really loved that one episode and sent me a letter and said ‘I’d love for you to direct more because I liked what you did,’ and I ended up doing four or five of those,” Caruso said. “He called me about ‘Disturbia,’ and then after that things were going well. They mentioned ‘Eagle Eye’ to me. It was an original idea that Steven had thought of about ten or twelve years ago.”

Thornton has played a plethora of different characters throughout his acting career. He said he couldn’t really relate to the character in this movie because usually he’s the one being chased by the FBI. In “Eagle Eye” he plays an FBI agent. “I like to play different things all the time so it was pretty nice. I did do some research, it’s knowing what you’re saying when you’re saying it. I think the audience can tell when you don’t know what you’re doing. In this case, the language of the script is technical. If I were an FBI guy that’s the way I would be,” Thornton said.

Chicklis got involved with “Eagle Eye” by accident. Caruso’s son was playing with his phone one morning, and accidentally called Chicklis.

“I called D.J. back and said ‘Why are you calling me at seven on Sunday morning’ and he said, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, he called Angelina Jolie a minute ago too.’ He was like, ‘Hey wait a minute, what are you doing right now?’ I had just literally wrapped the last show on ‘The Shield,’ and he said, ‘I’ve got something for you,” Chicklis said.

“I really loved the script, I just thought it would be fun and interesting to do something like that.”

The star of the film

The director and actors seemed to have a lot to say about the star of the movie, Shia LeBeouf.

“One thing you’ll see about Shia is how he has now become sort of a young man and looks different and acts different and behaves differently,” Caruso said. “He’s gotten out of the teenager stage.”

Thornton and LeBeouf had a lot of on-set interaction.

“Shia is a great kid. He’s very mature as an actor for his age. I really enjoyed working with him. I really hope big things for him,” Thornton said.

“Shia is awesome. I really enjoy the kid, I mean, this is a really great talent, smart, not an ego whatsoever,” Chicklis said. “He’s a wonderful actor because he’s accessible, he’s likeable.”

Advice for future actors

All three had advice for anyone wanting to be involved in the movie business.

“If you work harder than everybody else it will happen for you,” Caruso said. “I think the work ethic particularly in the film industry is lacking.”

Chiklis is a graduate of Boston University, and had specific advice for students looking to break into the field of acting.

“I would educate myself as much as I could, if I were a student, as to the ins and outs of the business. Agents, management, business management, publicists, lawyers, all the different people you end up having no matter who you are, that’s something you need to be aware of,” Chicklis said. “If I were in college now, in addition to just taking in my lessons as an actor, I would be looking into all of that.”

Thornton had advice for both musicians and actors, since he is also in a band and does solo work himself.

“It is most important to learn the history. It’s very important to learn the movie and music industry, makes it easier to talk to the people you’re trying to break in with. Eventually you’ll really need to be in L.A.,” Thornton said.

Go to for a trailer, photo gallery and more.