JOHN MALKOVICH: I had been scheduled to direct or develop several things and they fell apart, for one reason or another. We had our production company and I had read an article in the Daily Telegraph about Nicolass book and an article in Granta years ago and I had travelled in Peru in the 1980s and it was somehow a story I was very taken with. I loved the tone of it and the characters and really loved the character of Rejas and of the dance instructor and in a way Rejass wife. Thats how I started.
QUESTION: What were the challenges you faced in bringing this story to the screen?
JOHN MALKOVICH: We were able to secure the rights and I wanted Nicolas to work on the screenplay with me. That went fine and we kept working, working, working. Then you have to have an actor who will interest the people who fund movies and no-one was interested in fun ding this movie because it took place in a far off land, because who cares about terrorism, its very political supposedly although that really isnt the case. And those people who did find the story interesting didnt know who any of these actors were and they would do it if I had other actors that they did know. That didnt interest me. I wanted the actors that I wanted because when you direct a movie why do something you dont want to do? As an actor you are constantly doing things that somebody else wants you to do that you may or may not agree with. But thats the job definition and generally I do it. But when you direct then its really up to you and you do what you want to do - and that can be right or wrong, good or bad, brilliant or abysmal or anything in-between. But it should be what you want to do and I saw this movie very specifically at a small budget with mostly Latin actors who speak English as a second language. That was a mandatory, obligatory part of the vision I had for it.
Continue reading: The Dancer Upstairs - Q&A: John Malkovich on Directing