Shawn Levy and Dan Levine Q&A: ‘Arrival’ and ‘Stranger Things’ producers
During our recent webcam chat (watch above), “Arrival” producer Shawn Levy reveals that he was initially attracted to the project because it had, “this really resonant theme of do you choose love even if you know it ends in pain?” Amy Adams plays a linguist recruited by the military to translate alien language when large spacecrafts land in various cities on Earth. The film, directed by Denis Villeneuve (“Sicario,” “Prisoners”), opened on Nov. 11 to some of the best reviews of the year, earning a staggering 96% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Levy, who directed the three “Night at the Museum” films (the second of which featured Adams), produced “Arrival” with Dan Levine through their company 21 Laps. “What was so interesting,” explains Levine, “beyond just the fact that you rarely see big sci-fi with that level or emotion, is that this movie is all about the part of most sci-fi movies that gets skipped over. Usually, aliens land and we go to war,” whereas this film asks the questions of, “what do they want, why are they here, and who would talk to them?”
They both sang the praises of Villeneuve, who is in the middle of shooting the remake of “Blade Runner.” “He always was kind of anchoring everything in realistic choices,” explains Levy about his fellow Canadian, “so that the movie is science fiction,” yet, “it also feels naturalistic.”
We also spoke at length about the Netflix hit series “Stranger Things,” which Levy executive produced through 21 Laps and directed with the Duffer Brothers. Levy believes both projects, although steeped in genre tropes, are nonetheless, “character anchored above all else.”