Director Cary Fukunaga on the 'Darker Sides' of His Upcoming Jane Eyre


There's not anything inherently fresh and vital about doing a remake, but Cary Fukunaga's upcoming take on Jane Eyre may buck that trend. The 32-year-old director of the art house smash Sin Nombre is regarded as one of Hollywood's most promising new talents, and he's lined up two other up-and-comers to star in his adaptation of the Charlotte Brontë novel: Alice in Wonderland heroine Mia Wasikowska, and Michael Fassbender of Inglourious Basterds and Fish Tank. This weekend, Fukunaga spoke to Movieline about what he's got planned for the film.

"I'd known there was a Jane Eyre script out there for a couple of years, and it was one of my favorite movies as a kid," Fukunaga told me, referring to the 1944 Robert Stevenson-directed version. "When [Sin Nombre] came out in the UK, I took advantage of that to meet with the BBC, and it turned out that there was no director that was attached anymore and the script happened to be amazing."

Is he daunted by remaking one of his favorite films? Not quite, Fukunaga said. "The Orson Welles-Joan Fontaine version was of an era. You wouldn't make a film like that anymore. I'm a stickler for raw authenticity, so I've spent a lot of time rereading the book and trying to feel out what Charlotte Brontë was feeling when she was writing it. That sort of spookiness that plagues the entire story...there's been something like 24 adaptations, and it's very rare that you see those sorts of darker sides. They treat it like it's just a period romance, and I think it's much more than that."

It's also a very different kind of story from Sin Nombre, an illegal immigrant drama that Fukunaga filmed in Mexico with unknown actors. For a young director still establishing his visual sensibility, Fukunaga admitted that he'll be expanding his repertoire quite a bit with Eyre.

"It's a little more thought out," he said. "On Sin Nombre, [cinematographer] Adriano Goldman and I improvised a lot of things on-site. We were working with untrained actors, and you can't really block a scene in a traditional way. On this film, we're working with such pros that can work and hit their mark, so we're coming up with some interesting ways to shoot the film. It's all about tension and creating that sense of horror underneath."

Among those pros is a supporting cast that includes Dame Judi Dench, Jamie Bell, and Sally Hawkins. I asked Fukunaga how it feels to work with actors who aren't merely trained, but among the most lauded in their field.

"It's a treat and daunting to be directing someone like Judi Dench, who's made more films than I'll ever make in my lifetime." He laughed. "We don't start rehearsals until next week, so ask me again then and I can tell you with more authority."

Jane Eyre begins shooting at the end of the month.

[Photo Credit: Francois Guillot/Getty Images]