Hayley was a serial killer, like Hannibal Lecter, only much younger. Everything was black and white, I had a hundred notes, and from the official green light we ended up with only three weeks’ preproduction before we started rehearsals. Here what seemed so rich on the page seemed to have occasional stumbling “movie beats,” and as we found them we eliminated them, one by one. The movie I had in my head was being revised, over and over, the months of prep jettisoned and rewritten, and I was getting three to four hours sleep a night.
None of this was Brian Nelson’s fault. Brian had written the best film that I had read since moving from London to Los Angeles two years earlier, and that film remained intact until the end of postproduction. It was Patrick Wilson and Ellen Page’s fault. Ellen brought a personal vendetta to the character. She was human and in that reality was a spine-tingling power. Now all kinds of shades of gray began to enter our dark shadows and white highlights, things you don’t see in storyboards and can’t prepare for in notes, things that needed rewrites that Brian was happy to do, and things that just had to be done by any means necessary.