Visionary director Dan Trachtenberg spun his love of visual storytelling and video games into the short film Portal: No Escape, which went viral and scored him meetings with Hollywood’s bigwigs. That’s how the commercial director came to helm the surprise Cloverfield spinoff that’s trailer took the internet by storm one month ago.
Existing within the same universe as the hit 2008 monster movie, 10 Cloverfield Lane is set deep under Louisiana, where an intense conspiracy theorist (John Goodman in one of his darkest roles ever) has built a bunker to ride out the apocalypse. Convinced that a world-wrecking attack has hit the U.S., Walter seals his doors, locking a makeshift family inside that includes his chipper neighbor (John Gallagher Jr.) and an injured out-of-towner (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), desperate to get back to her fiancé. As tensions underground rise, she learns the monsters that may be outside are the least of her troubles.
Screen Rant sat down with Trachtenberg in New York to talk about turning Roseanne’s loving family man into a monster, how Bradley Cooper came to cameo, and how he’d ride out his time in a doomsday bunker.
Screen Rant: I think that’s a really good description of the emotion. So many of us love him. And then you’re like, “I’m also terrified of you and I feel at odds with this feeling.” So it’s a lot of fun.
So, watching the film, which of course takes place in a bunker, I was thinking a lot about what would you want if you were to be trapped in a bunker for an undetermined amount of time? I’m not talking survival stuff. That’s all taken care of. What kind of do you just need?
Dan Trachtenberg: Video games, movies, my comic books…
Screen Rant: Specific titles?
Dan Trachtenberg: Oh, boy. Video games, I would probably want some sort of…I’m a big MMO guy, so World of Warcraft or…I’m playing a game called Blade & Sou right now that’s terrific. And that’s something that I can play forever, assuming that there’s electricity and other people in other bunkers that I’m playing with…
Screen Rant: I mean in the bunker there is.
Dan Trachtenberg: OK. But I guess it would be a very lonely MMO if I was the sole…actually, that would be even worse. It would make me feel worse for my situation. What else?
Screen Rant: Would there be board games?
Dan Trachtenberg: Board games? Yeah, but am I by myself?
Screen Rant: Assuming you have people to play with…
Dan Trachtenberg: I have people to play with? For sure. There would be board games. I don’t know if Monopoly would make it up there for the same reason that…
Screen Rant: I’d kill people…
Dan Trachtenberg: John Gallagher points it out.
Screen Rant: I have no patience for that game.
Dan Trachtenberg: We joke about playing Balderdash on set. I really want to play…we all want to play together. I remember laughing harder than I ever have my whole life playing that game. Movie wise, Magnolia is one of my favorite movies of all time and it’s a long one, so it would keep me occupied. And it’s very…every time I see it there’s more to dissect in it, so that would be a good one.
But frankly, you know what I haven’t thought of is I would probably want like a TV series. Buffy is one of my favorite TV series of all time. I’ve seen the entire series in its entire run four or five times, I think. So to be able to go back to that because I love spending time with those characters. So it would make me feel less lonely if I had that show to watch over and over.
Screen Rant: I won’t say what it is because it’s kind of fantastically unexpected, but how did Bradley Cooper come to be in the cameo in this movie?
Dan Trachtenberg: He was obsessed with the part. He kept auditioning over and over. No, J.J. and him had a history. And we really needed someone for this tiny little role. So he was like, “You know what? I wonder if Bradley Cooper would want to do it?” We were like, “Sure!” And Bradley was stoked to help out. It was really sweet of him.
Screen Rant: That’s really fun! I think that’s my time. Thank you so much!
10 Cloverfield Lane opens in theaters March 11, 2016.