‘Spiral’: How Chris Rock Pulled Director Darren Lynn Bousman Back Into ‘Saw’

Just when filmmaker Darren Lynn Bousman thought he was out of the Saw franchise, Chris Rock pulled him back in for Spiral, a spinoff that’s set in the Saw universe.

I left after three number-one openings, and I was like, ‘The only thing that I can do from this point is fuck it up.’ So I stayed with that and felt that until the idea of a Chris Rock Saw movie.

Because of the gruesome nature of the Saw films, securing an R-rating has been a challenge since the launch of the franchise.

So I had to fight tooth and nail to keep it, and explain that if that shot is cut out, the reveal won’t work.

I left after three number-one openings, and I was like, “The only thing that I can do from this point is fuck it up.” I was just scared that the only place to go after Saw 4 was down.

One day, while we were already filming, he came to me and said, “Hey man, my intro.” And I was like, “Yeah?” And he was like, “I can’t do that.

But the entire experience of working with those two guys just felt surreal to me because I am a film lover before I call myself a director.

Funny story… The very first day that Sam was on set, his very first line, line number one, was “motherfucker.” It was when he threw a glass against the wall in a flashback, and he goes, “Motherfucker!” And then after he did the shot, he looks directly at camera and goes, “There, you’ve got your one ‘motherfucker.’ I’m done.” So we got the full Sam Jackson experience because we ended up getting three “motherfuckers,” I think.

When you’re watching the news and you’re seeing the protests and the riots that are taking place with regard to George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, it framed what we shot completely differently.

Back in 2019, when we were making Spiral, one of the things that was most important for myself and the writers was to ensure that we weren’t trying to deliver an overly weighted political message.

So we were like, “OK, that doesn’t work.” So then we have to go down this rabbit hole of, “What would tear out a tongue? And what does that actually look like? Where would the tongue actually rip out?” So even though these are gory scenes, there is a lot of effort in making sure that what we depict is actually what would happen.

You’re like, “OK, I’ll cut this shot out, but I have to keep this one.” So yeah, it was a hard time for sure.

And there is a lot of fear because not only do you have to emote, you have to scream, you have to thrash around, as you are getting some horrible liquids or glass shot at you.

Whether he’s in the car with William and talking about different rappers, or doing the New Jack City line or The Wire line, he just had all of these hilarious one-liners.

That was an agonizing process because fans that are coming into this have spent eight years getting to know and love John Kramer/Tobin Bell.

And in the background, I hear this Drake song that I love called “God’s Plan.” So I just said to my assistant, “Find out who was the DP of this.” So she came back to my office and said, “Not only is he a Toronto-based DP, he’s two blocks from here.” And I was like, “You’ve got to get this guy in the office right now.” So Jordan came in and met with me, and I hired him right then and there.

So we definitely had that discussion going into this movie: “What do we want to set up that we’ll pay off later?” So if we do get greenlit for a sequel because people did respond to Spiral, we’re not starting from square one.

So you would think that when they were making The Game TV show, they would call me and say, “Hey dude, come pitch us.” But that never happened.

But the thing that I love the most about my career is the fact that I have been able to make movies and then leave making movies for a few years to go do these insanely intense immersive theater experiences.

It forces the audience to play a pivotal role in a narrative, as opposed to something like Spiral, which you will go see in a theater and sit there for 90 minutes.

I have equally as insane stories about shooting in Barcelona with everyone and the crew either getting violently ill, being pushed down staircases or quitting because they would see unexplainable things in this house that we shot in.

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