INT: David S. Goyer

After THE DARK KNIGHT, David S. Goyer is finding himself in a different kind of genre film. A film with more in common to THE EXORCIST or THE OMEN as opposed to Batman. David is certainly keeping busy as he has his hand in a possible X-MEN origin flick with Magneto and his latest television series “Flash Forward”. And he was open to giving a few little details about those particular projects.

When I spoke to David over the phone, you could tell he knows what to say and what not to say. He is keeping any talk about a new Batman film to a zero. But he did open up about his script for X-MEN and he expressed his excitement about his latest television project. But it is THE UNBORN that he talked most about. And that included where it came from and his hopes that audiences will be terrified by the supernatural thriller. The Unborn opens this Friday at a theatre near you… and if you go, make sure you watch out for the bathroom mirror.

David S. Goyer

How did you choose Odette [Yustman] for the lead role in THE UNBORN? How many actresses did you look at?

We saw over a hundred actresses. Some of them known, some of them unknown. And I was not familiar with Odette’s work, CLOVERFIELD still hadn’t come out, I hadn’t seen “October Road”. We just thought she gave a great audition and she’s very beautiful obviously, she’s a little exotic. I just had a feeling that the audience would really warm to her and so far they seem to have.

She’s a good fit for the character.

Cool, thanks.

I was reading in the press notes, you were talking about twins and your fascination with them. What specifically made the idea of twins such an interest for you and this story?

Well I happen to be… I was actually on the set of THE DARK KNIGHT visiting for a few days. And I was just out to dinner with my wife one night, and I just had this kind of notion for this movie that jumped into my head and I said, ‘Oh wouldn’t it be scary if you had a girl who was haunted by her unborn twin? And what if their nickname for their unborn twin was “Jumby”’… that came into my head too, I have no idea where from. Only when we were making the movie did I find out that Jumby is actually like a Guyanese name for ghost. Really crazy. So that led me to… I come up with an idea and then I start researching for twins which led me to a real medical condition where the iris’ pigmentation changes colors and that led me to Mengele’s experiments in the Holocaust. It sounds crazy but I didn’t realize… I wasn’t aware that he’d been experimenting with twins, which is fortuitous because he’d been experimenting with changing eye color and twins at the same time. And because of the connection to Judaism, I started reading up on the Kabbalah and the legend of the Dybbuk and it all came together.

Well it seems like folklore is a rich area to look to for horror and it isn’t tapped into as much as it could be.

I agree… um, and it’s a natural place to tap, because folklore often deals with the supernatural or trying to explain the supernatural. I just though this might be an interesting way to do a new twist on the exorcism motif.

Were there other influences? Because I saw bits of other film like A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and even THE THING. Was that just something that I’m picking up or was that something you thought about in making the film?

Some of them were intentional, some of them were perhaps unintentional. Where did you get THE THING from?

You know, THE THING happened with the “Eli Monster”.

Ahhhh! Interesting. That was not intentional.

I did like the monsters, they were pretty cool.

Thank you. We don’t have a lot of them in the movie but the little guys that are in there are hopefully scary.

Well it definitely felt as though you were approaching it as a more psychological thriller as opposed to a goretastic horror flick.

Yeah, I was trying to hearken back to THE EXORCIST and THE OMEN and ROSEMARY’S BABY… and THE SHINING perhaps a little. A bit more leisurely paced, a bit more creep… but that said, I think the last twenty minutes we kind of threw everything in but the kitchen sink.

In the beginning, was it planned for a PG-13 rating?

It was only because I wrote the script without any idea whether it would be PG-13 or R. But when I finished it, I thought that it probably could be PG-13 because it wasn’t that graphic. The truth is, we cut very little after we showed it to the MPAA in order to get the PG-13 rating. We’re talking frames here and there… but I think it almost plays like an R rated film. Which is funny because it’s not that graphic. There’s no sex in it and hardly any swearing. It’s not that gory, it’s hardly gory at all… much of the violence is off-screen but I do think its fairly intense.

Now you’ve come from more of a comic background, how was it to stretch your legs and do a more straight forward horror thriller?

Well it was exciting for me because it was a little bit different and it was a challenge. I’ve seen a lot of horror films but I’ve never done one before so… hopefully its scary [Laughing].

Honestly though, going back in your career, and I’m going to use the example of THE DARK KNIGHT which is one of my favorite films of the year. Heath Ledger is truly frightening as The Joker. That performance, the dialogue you wrote, all of it made for a very chilling character.

Yeah, very frightening. I’m really happy to hear you say that… I mean, I kept on telling people that the objective with The Joker was to make him genuinely frightening. He’s always been kind of a clown in the previous depictions and we were going more for… If we could make him as frightening as Malcolm McDowell’s character in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE or something like that.

Actually that is sort of what it reminded me of.

Cool. Yeah, The Joker should be frightening.

Well I think the best villains are oftentimes very funny and very charming.


Now a lot of people are going to talk and ask about this, but here it goes… have you thought about how you’d like to proceed with the next Batman installment when it comes to a new villain?

You know, I’m going to give you my standard answer which unfortunately isn’t going to be that interesting, which is, if I had thought about it I wouldn’t tell you.

[Laughing] How many times has that question been asked today?

Over one hundred [Laughing].

Sorry to ask the same question over again [Laughing]…

That’s okay, people like the movie and they’re curious if they’ll be another one. I understand.

Well I think that, especially with its release on Blu-ray, which looks fantastic by the way…

Yeah, it really does. And I can’t believe how many Blu-ray units it sold on the first day.

I’m not surprised. It will be interesting to see what happens with its re-release.

I’ll be interested as well. But I’m pretty sure we’ll break the billion dollar mark, we don’t have very far to go.

Is X-MEN ORIGINS: MAGNETO happening soon for you?

That is waiting on WOLVERINE opening. You know, Fox is just waiting to see… I think they are curious as to what is the appetite of the spin off movie. But the next thing on my plate is this pilot, “Flash Forward” that I co-wrote for ABC. And I’ll be shooting that in February. I’m excited about it… I actually think that it may be the best script I’ve ever written.

Can you tell me a little bit about it and what we can expect from it?

I can definitely say it’s not like any T.V. show that’s ever been on the air before. The premise is, one day everyone on the planet falls unconscious at exactly the same moment, for two minutes and seventeen seconds. And then they wake up, and during those two minutes and seventeen seconds, everyone on the planet has a shared experience of glimpsing a moment in time in the future about five months from now. And it’s what each one of those individual glimpses are that’s sort of, what the show is about, is having seen that glimpse of the future. You know, it plays around with pre-destiny and fate and what do you do with that glimpse. Do you change your life, do you not change your life? Is the act of trying to change your life gonna make it happen anyway kind of thing.

It does seem like television is taking more chances. I don’t watch a lot, but with HBO and Showtime and even FX, they seem to be pushing more boundaries which is nice.

I’ll pretty much watch any show that premieres on HBO, Showtime, FX or AMC now. I even like “Breaking Bad” on AMC.

I want to step back into X-Men territory a bit… now are we going to see some new friends or some old friends that will appear within the script?


I read that it begins in the concentration camp.

That was sort of the transformative moment for [Magneto] so there is no way you can’t involve that. But the bulk of the movie takes place around 1961-1962.

Will it delve into what we have seen in the last three films?

Well it takes place before all of that. The movie is really about the friendship between Charles and Eric.

Well I hope you get to do it man…


And really I’d like to see it revived after the last one.

Well look, Fox wants to see the same, so fingers crossed.

I mentioned this to Odette [Yustman] and she talked about doing a prequel to THE UNBORN.

Oh look, if the movie’s successful… you never know… not exactly a prequel, but I like the idea of starting another movie but jumping back to find out what happened with her mom first, the first ten or fifteen minutes. And then moving forward to Casey giving birth after that.

Now after “Flash Forward” and if the X-Men doesn’t happen right away, what is next for you?

Hopefully INVISIBILE MAN which I’m just finishing up for Universal right now.

Who would you cast?

It’s too early yet. We are talking to some people, but I don’t want to say just yet.

It seems that all the classic monsters are coming back… The Wolfman, possibly The Invisible Man…

Look, they… Universal regards them as valuable properties and they want to exploit them, they want to do things with them.

Let me know what you think. Send questions and/or comments to [email protected].


About the Author

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JimmyO is one of’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.