“The Box” that could change Cameron’s career

Here’s a short interview (from MTV.com) with the director of The Box, Richard Kelly, about his plans for the movie and Cameron’s performance. It’s an interesting read and I can’t wait to see Cameron in a horror movie!

You’re given a box, inside of which is a small button. Every time you press the button you get a package with a varying amount of cash — untraceable and large enough to change your life. You’ll never have to work again. Owning this box is like being able to win the lottery anytime you want.

Do you press the button?

What if every time you pressed the button, someone died? It’s not someone you know, or someone you would have ever met. Chances are, you might reason, this person had it coming. Maybe they deserved to die. Maybe you’re not the one who did it, but you’ll never know. All you know is that someone, somewhere is now dead. Do you still press the button?

More pertinently, asks director Richard Kelly — would Cameron Diaz?

“It brings up a lot of ethical questions and moral dilemmas,” Kelly said of the setup for his new film, “The Box,” in which Diaz will star as a married woman (and, for the first time, a mother) who receives just such a package. “I think we found kind of a classic triggering mechanism for suspense.”

With her 1,000-watt smile and cockeyed grace, Diaz is a study in serendipity, an actress whose characters are always a little klutzy, a tad bumbling, and yet good things always seem to come elegantly to them in the end.

But Kelly just can’t wait to wipe that smile off of Diaz’s face. “I want to make audiences see her in a different way, a way they’ve never had a chance to before,” the “Donnie Darko” director told MTV News. “I think of Kim Novak or Grace Kelly — all the great actresses who worked with Alfred Hitchcock. I’m hoping that with Cameron we can do something [similarly] special.”

He’s certainly got the material. Based on a short story by Richard Matheson (author of “I Am Legend”), “The Box” is an old-fashioned suspense film that Kelly calls a “psychological thriller where what’s frightening lies in the unknown” — and what’s frighteningly unknowable isn’t the nature of the box but the nature of those who use it.

“What does the button represent?” he asked. “We push a button to elect someone or push a button to drop a bunch of bombs on a country. Ultimately, I thought it was this incredible metaphor for responsibility, free will, and cause and effect.”

In that sense, he said, the box becomes a projection of our own inner demons, representing something different to each person it comes to. Which, according to Kelly, makes the movie a throwback in another sense as well.

“It’s definitely an intimate film,” said Kelly, who directed Justin Timberlake, Mandy Moore, Sarah Michelle Gellar and The Rock in the upcoming “Southland Tales” (see “Timberlake A Disfigured Iraq War Vet, Gellar A Porn Star In ‘Tales'”). “It’s not about gore, and it’s not about a lot of blood or language or violence. It’s sort of a horror or suspense film that my mother would still go see.”

The short story is available online (it’s about six pages long) and was previously adapted into an episode of “The Twilight Zone” in 1986. Though Kelly’s ending is different, he promised the feature length version won’t be an update — instead, it takes place in 1976.

“It’s a film that needed to take place in the past for a lot of reasons I can’t completely reveal without spoiling things, but doing it in 1976 makes it a lot simpler in a way,” he contended. “In 1976 there wasn’t the Internet; there weren’t cell phones and Blackberrys.”

The flick starts production in November in Kelly’s hometown of Richmond, Virginia.

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