[WATCH] ‘Arrival’ producer Dan Levine on ‘grounded’ sci-fi drama that’s now a major Oscar contender

“It’s something I was very proud to be involved with from start to finish,” reveals producer Dan Levine about his film “Arrival” starring Amy Adams, Jeremy RennerForest Whitaker and Michael Stuhlbarg. In our recent interview (watch above), Levine adds, “I worked with [screenwriter] Eric Heisserer very closely with a colleague Dan Cohen on the script. We had actually found the short story right before we just happened to have a meeting with [director] Denis Villeneuve, and we asked him, ‘What are you looking to do?’ and he said, ‘I’ve been dreaming of doing sci-fi.’ And we said, ‘Well, we have a short story you might want look at it!'”

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Levine adds about Villeneuve, “Denis wanted to keep it more grounded and real, and never go into the fantastic. I think he brought great vision and soul to it. I always like to say about Denis, that he’s the only director that can put you on the edge of your seat with tears coming down your face.” “Arrival” is based on the short story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang and has earned nearly $100 million domestically.

The film is also doing quite well on the awards circuit so far, with nominations at various guilds including PGA and SAG, as well as notices at BAFTA and the Golden Globes. And “Arrival” is now a hot Oscar contender for Best Picture. That’s unusual for a sci-fi film, but as Levine notes, “Arrival” is about so much more. “It has a real emotional heartbeat to it. You think you’re watching an alien invasion movie when in fact you’re actually watching this incredibly moving story about a mother and her daughter.”

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“She was our number one choice,” Levine reveals about the decision to cast Adams as linguist Louise Banks, who must help communicate with aliens who’ve landed on earth. “[The producers] had this list, and Denis had his list, and on both of ours at number one was Amy Adams. We went to her knowing that she was going to take time off, and we heard within two weeks that we got a yes from her. And that never happens. Talking to her right afterwards, it was that scene, that montage where you see her daughter from beginning to end, that hooked her.”

Coming up next for Levine, he is currently in pre-production on a film called “Darkest Mind” based on the best-selling book by Alexandra Bracken. And he reminds us, “We also have ‘Stranger Things,’ which is shooting at the same time.” When we ask Levine if he can tease Season 2 of the Netflix hit drama, he jokes, “If I say a word my laptop will just cut out.”

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