RT Interview with “American Made” Director Doug Liman

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I’m a fan of Doug Liman, director of four “Bourne” movies, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” and the neglected gem “Edge of Tomorrow.” I really enjoyed his list of five favorite movies for Rotten Tomatoes (I love “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” too) and his fondness for flawed heroes. Here are his comments on making a feature film based on a true story.

A movie like this, there’s a lot of research that goes into it. It’s a true story, so we want to honor that. But we’re not making the movie because it’s a true story, we’re making the movie because it’s a great story and has great characters in it. But I’ve often found sticking to the truth makes for better movies, at least when I make them. I come up with better scenes when I’m hemmed in by the reality of the situation. Limiting the CIA’s power in Bourne Identity – what they really could do at the time versus, you know, other movies that came up with magical command centers, where the CIA has eyes in the sky that can see everything in real time, and not deal with the reality that a spy satellite that’s low enough to see people on the ground isn’t geo-stationary, but is travelling across the land at a very high rate of speed. And it can be over a site for maybe 30 seconds. I’m interested in those limitations. I think they make the scenes more exciting.

So, making a movie like American Made, I’m interested in the reality of the story, because in my career up to date, the reality of the situation has always made my scenes more entertaining and more dramatic. And here I can always go back to the well, so any time I felt like the screenwriter was taking a shortcut, I’d say, “Well, let’s look at how it really happened.” And inevitably, I’d find a more exciting scene.

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