About The Production
CREATING THE INTRUDER: A NEW LISTING
Screenwriter David Loughery is no stranger to the kind of domestic thriller
everyday people in the crosshairs of unhinged interlopers, as evidenced by the
Terrace and Obsessed. When he was searching for a new vein of highly charged
which to build a screenplay, he thought about a certain community staple.
Says Loughery, "In every neighborhood, there's an older, retired guy who is
obsessed with his house and his property, and his yard, and he keeps everything
shape, and it's a reflection of him. The house, the property, represents him.
And I thought, what
if a guy like this had to give up his property? Had to sell his property? Was
forced to do it.
Would he be able to really let go of that place? Would he be able to stay away,
or would he have
to come back and make sure that the people he sold it to were taking care of it
in the way that he
needed them to take care of it?"
That inspiration led to the creation of unnervingly fixated retiree Charlie
disturbing scenario that arises from a married couple purchasing his house, and
a screenplay that
was at the time called Motivated Seller. After a few years in which it sat in
Loughery's drawer -
"I didn't really know what to do with it," says Loughery - the writer's manager
it, and realized it needed to be made. When the script got into the hands of
producer Mark Burg
of the Saw franchise, the ball was rolling.
Says Burg, "David wrote Lakeview Terrace, which I thought was great. He wrote
Obsessed, which I thought was terrific, and he wrote Passenger 57, which I
loved. He just
created a really unique idea, and I happened to be on the set of a movie called
by Deon Taylor, and I said, 'Deon, I just read this script on the plane. You may
want to check
this out, I think there's something to this.' He's in the middle of directing a
movie, and he calls
me the next day and says, 'I love it. I want to make it.' It all happened very
quick, over a
Loughery couldn't believe how rapidly the movie was coming together. "Within
I had met Deon and loved the guy," he says. "He loved the script. This is the
fastest I've ever
seen a script go into production. [Deon] made it come true, and it's really a
thrill. Most of the
directors I run into are just very jaded, a lot laid back, but Deon just has
this kind of life force
that makes you feel like, 'Wow, I've got to get on the train with this guy
'cause I think he's
Taylor recalls that after making the issue-driven Traffik, which was a fast,
he was ready to do something different with his partner at Hidden Empire,
Avent. "I said, I'm going to try to find something that's super commercial and
fun, and I've
always been driven to the thriller horror space," he says. "So I read the first
20 pages and I was
like, oh, what is this? I kept turning the page, turning the page, turning page,
and I got to the end
of it and I was like, I've got to make this movie."
For producer Roxanne Avent, branching out for the first time from creating
content at Hidden Empire, and optioning another writer's script, made complete
reading Loughery's script. "Everybody's got their thing that speaks to them, and
Empire we try to pick things that will not only be relevant, but that will talk
to everybody, in
every walk of life. And for me, the scariest, creepiest stuff is the stuff that
can really happen, and
as soon as I read it, what this couple go through with this house, it was, oh my
God, this is the
weirdest, and so cool!"
Beyond Taylor's enthusiasm for what was eventually retitled The Intruder,
appreciated that the director brought his own ideas for making the concept as
relatable as it could
be in its portrait of a marriage unexpectedly under siege, and as vivid as it
could be as a drama
that becomes a thriller that becomes a full-on fright picture. "I've been
writing these suspense
thrillers for a long, long time, and some of them have been successful, but I
feel like the playing
field is changing, and you can't just get away with a generic thriller anymore.
So one of the
things that was great about this script and Deon's attachment to it was that he
wanted to take it
further. He wanted to push it, so we decided to get rid of this idea of a
classical, elegant suspense
thriller and really take it more into the horror range. We want to double cross
trick them, and give them some thrills and chills they didn't really see
CASTING THE INTRUDER: A PERFECT FIT
When it came to making Charlie Peck a flesh-and-blood figure of sympathy,
then deception and menace, director Deon Taylor had only a few people in mind to
character, but at the top of that list was versatile, acclaimed actor Dennis
Quaid. His pitch to the
actor was simple: he wanted to give Quaid a shot at his own Jack Torrance in The
Annie Wilkes in Misery, roles that Jack Nicholson and Kathy Bates, respectively,
iconic cinematic nightmares for audiences everywhere.
"Charlie Peck gave you the freedom to do anything," Taylor recalls of what he
Quaid. "You could build that dude. He has multiple personalities. It really
comes down to, are
you going to show up and take a chance? When you look at The Shining, or Misery,
performances, those actors, they gave everything they had. And I got that with
Quaid admits that he wasn't immune to the incredible unease that came from
in The Intruder, and the hell Charlie creates for newlyweds Scott and Annie in
the story. "When
I read it, a fear went through my body," says the actor. "And when fear goes
through my body,
it's a sign that maybe I should do it because I'm afraid of it, because it's
something I haven't
done before. So I said yes, but then I had no idea where I was really going with
the guy, because
what he does is, you know ... psychotic would be the general term."
Looking at Charlie's experience, and even what he eventually does as a
found a connection that allowed himself into the role. "Charlie Peck was
experiencing loss in this
film. You lose your house, and you lose everything that's important to you. As
'You lose your identity.' It's like a death. So that was my starting point with
Charlie. But along
with that, he had a secret past, and so it gave me a little bit deeper a
starting point with him. He
has a certain face for the community and for the world, but he lives in an inner
world that he is
afraid of people seeing because he doesn't like that inner world himself."
Taylor and Quaid were on the same page from the start about bringing Charlie
"Mostly every idea he had, we shared. So from the genesis of us doing the
project, it was a winwin. We were almost taking each other's words out of each
The director adds that Quaid was especially brilliant at taking a given scene
not just the best thriller elements but also the details that spoke to the
character's unraveling. "He
lets you see that the character is flawed, that he has cracks, and he's
breaking, and there's
different personalities in that," says Taylor. "That's something you don't get
to see very often,
and I thought Dennis Quaid was absolutely incredible by bringing that level of
to what we were building. Some days I just sat back, put the camera on him, and
He's that good."
Quaid is equally complimentary about Taylor's direction, which he says gave
ideal environment to take Charlie wherever his preparation, instincts and talent
dictated. "I told
Deon, 'Look, I'm probably going to go really big, and I need you to pull me back
if I'm off
track.' And I was blessed to have Deon as director, because what he does
visually and with
action, what he puts in the frame to give a mood to tell a story, it makes my
job so much easier
because then I don't have to act. I can just be in his frame."
Screenwriter David Loughery has known Quaid for decades, since Quaid starred
Loughery's first produced script, Dreamscape, and says Quaid was on his mind
moment he was putting Charlie to paper. "I felt, 'Who's the guy who can be
charming, has an
ability to play a lot of different sides, that audiences always respond to and
love?' And I thought,
Dennis would just be perfect for this if he wanted to really go to the dark
side. And in this movie,
he's gone there."
Nailing down the source of your movie's terror is one thing, casting the
right actors to
play Annie and Scott, the loving couple whose own sensitive relationship is
given a workover by
Charlie's interloping ways, was just as tricky. Luckily, the creative team
landed Meagan Good to
embody the harrowing journey Annie goes through. Good had already met with Deon
once on a different project, so when the actress got her hands on The Intruder,
was involved, she got especially excited.
"I love thrillers, scary movies, anything in that space," says Good. "For me,
emotions are completely heightened, and you have to find that balance of, what
would a human
being really do when it becomes survival of the fittest? That kind of character
pushes you past
In Annie, Good had a meaty role with a delicate mission: make her initial
trust in Charlie
believable, until the writing was on the wall. "Annie is the type of person
where she wants to
believe the good in people," she says. "She has a good heart, she's sensitive,
and for her it's that
time in her life when she's ready to settle down, have a family, get out of the
city and start this
new life with her husband. So when she first meets Charlie, she thinks he's
interesting, a little
strange and eccentric, but she immediately feels bad for him knowing that his
wife passed away,
and he's saying goodbye to this house he would love to keep but can't afford to.
But as time goes
on, she starts to put the pieces together. She's optimistic until she can't be
Producer Jonathan Schwartz says Annie is the kind of character where "you
innocence, but you need a backbone. Those are very tough things to find
together. Some do the
innocence great, but you know they'd be a pushover in two seconds. Others are
great at standing
up for themselves but can't play the sweet moments. Meagan does both so
brilliantly. I like
ambitious leading ladies, people that strive for the greatness."
Dennis Quaid, whose interactions with Good onscreen run the gamut from
cordial to terrifyingly violent, applauds his scene partner. "I think she's
going to have a blow-up
career, she's going to be huge. She's just a natural. She's who we're fighting
over, and she just
did not play it as a cliche. She always looked for the truth. And the girl can
For Good, who credits horror films with inspiring her to want to be an
intensity of a final confrontation is her favorite part of making a movie like
The Intruder. "I
always loved the physicality of trying to fight for your life and survive, so
that was a dream
come true," she says. "When we have the big fight scene, just figuring out what
that fight's going
to be, and not making it a complete damsel in distress, but finding the strength
and seeing that
switch turn on in Annie where this chick has a totally different gear, was
really fun for me."
As for working with Quaid, Good says the difference between actor and part
considerable. "He was creepy in the scenes, but on set, he was just completely
normal and sweet
and fun to talk to. He knew this was a different type of character for him, and
he just went all
out, and it was great. It was fun to collaborate with everyone."
Everyone includes Michael Ealy, who was cast as Annie's husband Scott, and
the chance. Ealy was attracted to The Intruder not only because it was a
powerful story with a
nail-biting premise, but that it offered a chance to work opposite Dennis Quaid.
"He was a big
factor in why I decided to do it," says Ealy. "I kind of grew up on his work.
The first time I
remember seeing him was in Enemy Mine opposite Lou Gossett, Jr. and he was
just got such a legacy in terms of who he's worked with, and his consistency as
an actor. It was
an opportunity to play with Roger Federer, and I want to play against the best."
Of course, Charlie Peck is a lot for Ealy's character Scott to handle,
Scott and Annie are trying to establish the basis for a new life together after
what appear to have
been some past relationship turbulence. "He's an ad executive in the tech world
signed a big client, but on a personal level, Scott is clearly doing what Annie
wants," says Ealy.
"He's not being honest about what he wants. I think he is still trying to atone
for past mistakes.
He's trying to make his wife happy, trying to be selfless for once. We all have
our ways of
saying, I messed up, and Scott's is, he bought his wife a $3 million house!"
Scott's getting a second chance because of Annie, says Ealy, but that
compassion of hers
also becomes problematic. "She's sweet, open-minded, always wants to give people
of the doubt, and that's why Scott loves her. They're making all the right steps
in terms of
investing in their future, and then this happens. Scott has to reconcile that
his wife is going down
this path with this man who seems like he's lost. But my character is like, why
is he here? He
goes from that to, 'I don't want him around anymore.' Typically when you buy a
someone, they don't keep coming by."
In realizing Scott's and Annie's relatable, loving, but complicated marriage,
couldn't have been happier to work with Meagan Good. They've known each other
even been in the same films - the Think Like A Man movies - but never really
And now, after doing The Intruder, says Ealy, "She may have been one of my
favorite people to
work with. We were like kids at camp on this one. We bonded right away."
Good concurs. "He really is a great person," she says. "He's a humble spirit,
actor, and an incredible talent. It was fun to go on this journey with him,
because we were
constantly discovering new things, and really working out the dynamic of our
this married couple was thinking, what they had been through, everything."
Director Deon Taylor knew Ealy was perfect for Scott because he brought his
unique power to this fraught triangle. "I know his thing is his eyes, in terms
of, women love his
eyes, and he's charismatic and all that," says Taylor, "but what drew me to
Michael was, pound
for pound, the fact that he could stay in a scene without speaking. And this
movie needed a lot of
that. This movie had a lot of moments where there are words being said without
moving. A look or a thought, and the audience can read what that character is
feeling at that
time. And Michael is one of the best people in the business right now, hands
down, that can
That quality really made a difference, says Taylor, when you put Scott up
"The idea is, when Dennis goes high, he goes low, and vice versa. They're always
and it takes a very high energy, and a very, very incredible level of talent for
them to be able to
find that arc, because at the end of the day, what Charlie Peck is doing is
basically breaking up a
Producer Jonathan Schwartz describes the moments when Scott gets
regarding Charlie as some of the movie's greatest, "because it's not that you
[Scott] to be that way, it's just you can't imagine him wanting to be that way.
You know that
he's pulling himself out of what he wants to be. He doesn't want to be someone
who's angry. He
wants to celebrate this home with his wife and have the happy ending."
For the creative team, who also had the good fortune of casting Joseph Sikora
rascally colleague and pal Mike, the happy ending was putting together such a
powerful core trio
in Dennis Quaid, Meagan Good and Michael Ealy. Adds Schwartz, "When you get a
Michael, and a Meagan, and you see them working together, these are the elements
and those are
the moments that we sit back and go, it's a homerun. You just watch them work
and you go, this
can't be wrong."
The cast feel equally about Deon Taylor as their director. "Everybody's going
to want to
be working with him," says Quaid. "I've worked with so many great directors, and
I put Deon
right in that same club."
Producer Roxanne Avent says one of Taylor's greatest strengths is being an
director. "He's so in tune with, and compassionate about their feelings for the
character, and he's
open to whatever suggestion," says Avent. "He allows them to play with it, and
then it becomes
this big family affair, because they're all being so creative."
Says Meagan Good, "Deon is, like, an amazing human being. He's got a
beautiful heart, a
beautiful mind, he's kind, he creates a fun environment on set. He just has an
ability to be a good
leader and make filming fun. I noticed immediately that he has an incredible eye
for how to
create a scene and make it scary and thoughtful."
Michael Ealy notes that three different people told him the same thing about
with Taylor. "They all said, 'If you get a chance to work with him, go do it,
cause you will love
him.' We bonded instantly. He's your director, he's your motivational halftime
coach, and he's
kind of a guru, in that his positive energy is who he is all day every day. He
directs almost like a
kid in a candy store. If he sees something he likes, something I did as an
actor, something the DP
did, the excitement on his face, he just lets it out. And that kind of
enthusiasm helps you get
through those long night shoots. It helps the crew feel like they're
appreciated. You'll go to war
with this guy. I used to say on this set, if I could have Deon as my alarm
clock, I would be much
more productive in life!"
LOCATING THE INTRUDER: A HOUSE TO DIE FOR
There's no The Intruder without a house for Charlie Peck to obsess over, and
Vancouver needing to sub for the Napa Valley, the search for the right estate to
and Annie - and inspire terrifying behavior in Charlie - was a central quest for
the creative team.
Director Deon Taylor credits veteran Academy Award-nominated cinematographer
Spinotti, whom he worked with on Traffik, with instilling in him the importance
of a great
location. Says Taylor, "As a filmmaker, you look at locations all the time,
'That's cool, that's
great,' but do you really take time to look at the location? Dante was one of
the first people to
ever sit me down and explain to me how important a location was to a scene. So
when we got
ready to do a movie like this, we were riding all around Vancouver looking. I
looked at 70
houses at least, maybe 150 when I count online. But it was the same cabin you
see in every
movie. It was just a house, the house you see on the posters for a scary movie.
And I'm like man,
that's not it."
Producer Jonathan Schwartz could see how exhausting the search was for the
team, so he suggested taking a look at Foxglove, an elegant, old, European-style
in the woods near a lake. "I remember getting the feedback, 'Oh, we found our
remember just going, phew, because it's such a huge character in the film. It's
the essence of
what this picture is. It's a cinematic house."
Taylor remembers looking at pictures of it initially and realizing instantly
that it was the
ideal location. "Seeing the pond, the ivy, the backyard, I said, this is the
perfect house. And we
went to it, and the van had barely stopped, and I was getting out, and I was
like, this is the house,
because the house had to be a character. This house that this man owns, that has
been in his
family for all these years, when we see that, we've got to say, oh, that's
Charlie Peck's house.
Foxglove represented all of that."
Producer Roxanne Avent says she prefers a practical location to a set because
believes audiences respond more to a real place, but even she couldn't believe
luck that they found Foxglove, and how it spoke to the romance in the story, and
the scary parts
later. "From the outside looking in, we want the audience to think it's the
perfect scenario for
Michael's and Meagan's characters, because of its pedigree. But with the twists
and turns, it
makes everything more creepy, right? So that was the perfect house. You walked
two or three
feet in any direction, and you were in a different area with more places to
hide, duck, or dodge."
As accommodating as the owners were to a month of shooting at their home,
needed to okay changes production designer Andrew Neskoromny wanted to make to
so that it fit the story they were trying to tell. Mostly that meant trimming
enough of the covering
foliage so that the house could be more easily seen, painting shutters,
installing a new door, and
working on the exterior walls to the extent that the house's historical splendor
looked like an ongoing project for a fastidious owner like Charlie. "We spent
quite a few weeks
cleaning it up," says Neskoromny. "We wanted to turn it into something that fell
between the old
character of the house, and something Dennis's character would care for and want
to improve on,
and keep working on. Get rid of the peeling paint, but leave the patina that's
makes a statement of how old the place is."
Neskoromny's team also removed all the furniture so they could prepare for
decors: Charlie's comfortable, traditional aesthetic, and - after Scott and
Annie move in - the
sleeker look reflective of city dwellers. "Charlie really wanted to leave all
the furniture, and they
didn't want to insult him, so they agreed, but the more they live there, the
more they introduce
themselves, their own furniture and art," says Neskoromny. "Charlie's a gun
collector, a hunter,
a man's man, so he has a gun safe, hunting trophies, and older looking
portraits. But the couple's
stuff is very modern and impressionistic, and wouldn't make a lot of sense to
Charlie. So it was a
bit of a transformation."
Normally for a movie so dependent on one location, interiors would be built
on a stage.
But Taylor wanted to shoot at the house as much as possible, which Neskoromny
looked at as a
worthy challenge. "There was a certain claustrophobic quality to it that he
didn't want to lose,"
says Neskoromny. "And sometimes you can lose that within a set, because the
walls can come
apart, everything is flexible, and you're able to get a camera anywhere you
want, even be below
the floor. You can't do that at a practical location. At the same time, there
because you're dealing with stunts, and you have to change doorways, and remodel
architecture in certain areas, all within existing parameters. All of those
things were an added
level of challenge in working in this house as opposed to building a set."
And yet, Foxglove's own eccentric nature contributed to getting things done.
enough doorways, passageways, interconnected rooms, and windows that could be
pulled off for
camera placement, that the production was able to make location shooting work.
"It was an older
house, and you could tell that it had been added onto and remodeled and expanded
in ways that it
created this sort of funkiness, which leant itself to filming flexibility," says
Perhaps the most expensive element were the number of doors that had to be built
replacements for stunts and action moments that required multiple takes. "I
think we must have
built about 50 doors."
For Meagan Good, most of whose scenes were in the house, Foxglove and its
mix of styles and architectural elements proved a fittingly mood-setting
environment for the
mostly on-location shoot. "When we finally drove out to the house and saw what
it was going to
be, it was a really, really beautiful home, but definitely creepy at night," she
says, laughing. "It
felt a little haunted, especially outside around the grounds. But I think that's
what it took.
Everything about this movie is about this house, and Charlie's connection to it,
and [Scott and
Annie's] connection to it, so we needed to find the perfect place, and I think
we really did!"
When he looks at the making of The Intruder, David Loughery's assessment is a
dream come true: "It's kind of beyond what I envisioned. One of the things that
the actors and
Deon have been able to do here is really kind of amp it up in a way that I
didn't think was
possible. It's a very, very intense movie now, and these performances are very
intense, and I'm just glad they've really gone the distance with it."
Dennis Quaid wants audiences to get the ride of their life watching The
what Charlie Peck has in store for them. "I want them to be entertained," he
says. "Why else
would you want to go to the movies? This movie is really scary, visually, with
the shock value of
an amusement park ride. But it's also the psychological aspect of it that all of
us have, that really
scares the hell out of you."
Producer Mark Burg thinks audiences won't know what's hit them. "From the
you sit down, you think you know where the movie's going, and then we make a
quick turn to
the left. Now we're going to the right. Then we change direction again. I think
people are going
to be on the edge of their seats, trying to figure out, 'Okay, what's really
happening here?' And
just when you get to the very end, and you think you know what happened, we pull
the rug out
from under you, again. I think we made a terrific movie."
Deon Taylor likens what he was after with The Intruder to that feeling "only
give you," he says. "And when you come out, you know, the air in the summertime,
the night air,
you've had a whole Coke and five thousand M&Ms and your eyes are that big! Those
are the fun
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