[Studio Daily:] Johnson is a first-time director but a well known conceptual artist who works in a variety of styles and media. In what way did he bring that sensibility to this film?[Brad Turner:] I did some research before I met him and had become, before we even had our meeting, a fan of his art. I was very curious about his process. His art was the first thing we talked about when we met because it was surrounding us in his studio. He explained to me that he makes what he calls “cosmic slop,” which is a reference to a George Clinton and Funkadelic album. I’m a huge George Clinton fan. We did speak at length how he wanted to employ his aesthetic sensibilities in the movie. He worked with production designer Akin McKenzie on populating the film with not just his art but with other contemporary artists, like Amy Sherald, who painted Michelle Obama. His painting Anxious Man hovers behind Big when he meets Mr. Dalton in his home, for example. The film is inundated with these artistic references, and I think Rashid wanted to dig into the ways our society has evolved since the book was written and the ways it has stayed the same. And I think you can track a lot of that through the art that is hidden in the film. A lot of it is pretty subtle but it was one of the reasons he wanted to make the movie from the very beginning — to sneak all that stuff in. The scene in Dalton’s home office was such a blast to edit. It’s just this confluence of very different cultures and subtle communication that produces a ton of subtextual conflict. The tension in that scene is pretty palpable and also a really fun one to cut.
Read the full interview here.