Interview: The Box Director Richard Kelly, Part 2: Spoilers

November 9, 2009

Richard Kelly

Just last week I interviewed Richard Kelly, director of Donnie Darko and the recently released The Box. The first half of my interview was strictly spoiler free and we talked about developing the story, his love for sci-fi, and casting. This second part of my interview (run time of 7 minutes) focuses on the second half of the movie and contains spoilers, so please watch this only if you've seen the movie! He talks about why some of the characters make the decisions they make and what's going on in the second half. If you had questions after watching The Box or just wanted to know more about what went into it, then be sure to watch this.

Watch my interview with The Box writer and director Richard Kelly - Part 2:

After the interview (off camera), Kelly answered a question I had about a "missing piece" in the third act - spoilers follow! I asked him what exactly was happening in between the cut from Arthur Lewis getting hit by the truck in the car, then he next walks out the brightly lit hangar and is stopped by the military. Kelly explained that after the car gets hit, he removed a scene where you see Steward's men drag him away. In the hangar, he is mysteriously "healed", although he wouldn't say what exactly is in there. Makes more sense, as it was kind of confusing at first. The Box is currently playing in theaters, so go see it if you haven't yet!

The Box

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when he says "magic" in the interview..I get a little thrown off..I enjoyed the movie..I just wish some stuff was explained a little more.. for example..the NSA memo in the beginning said "the box" was built to the specifications of the mars project....but when they opened the was wood and hollow on the inside?????

Trey m on Nov 9, 2009


Wow...yeah. That is all I have................... Oh right, this sucked. Donnie Darko wasn't even spectacular. it's a delayed cult classic like Office Space which is fine, but people have to be honest with themselves. I saw it when it came out and just didn't care. Watched it later when it was "explained" and still didn't care.

Tra la la la la di da on Nov 9, 2009


#2 That is why it is called a cult hit your obviously not part of that minority...your post is insanely pointless. I am and I thought Donnie Darko WAS spectacular.

Cody on Nov 9, 2009


#1 - What I think was being explained is that they got instructions to make this box from the Mars program, meaning the aliens on mars (who later took over Steward's brain to control him, I guess). So therefore the box may not have any instruments in it, but it still achieves an effect (since it's alien technology). Makes some sense in a twisted sci-fi way? #2 - Come on, don't come here and just troll around. This is for discussion about the interview and what Kelly is saying about the story, not for you to crap on his career! Goodness...

Alex Billington on Nov 9, 2009


Career? Two known movies and a discussion about what? Seriously? Plot holes? No. He tries to add something to a movie that could have been and possibly was written by a middle school child. The movie made absolutely boring sense. "How did he get from one place to another? Drive 20hrs up the coast?" Yes, this is what puzzled me throughout!!! I never would have guess he was some mystery man with that face. That's...that's like Two-Face in Batman!!! How the heck did he live like that!?! Which leaves us to not wonder the thousand other questions. IT'S A SCI-FI MOVIE!!! We get it. Can't crap on something that's "great" so not sure what you mean there Alex unless you agree it's not. Cody, you're an idiot. There are many cult classics but they're called "cult" classics because they are popular among a small population, not because they are some HUGE success. I know it was a cult hit, that's why I called it that. That's also why I said it wasn't something great. It was later embraced much like teenagers now of days embrace the The Clash and wear tshirts for concerts that they weren't even close to be conceived at. It's cool! Psych 101...still, wasn't a great movie. Fun watch but needless to see, nothing spectacular. Call them fakes, which only makes the movie worse because then eve less like it, but I've known many that were Darko or other cult hit apparel and know little to nothing about it. Deal with it. I am curious about when you first saw it Cody. Obviously I won't believe you if you say you saw it in 2001 and loved it immediately and got its meaning blah blah. It's pointless but still, interesting.

Tra la la la la di da on Nov 9, 2009


#4 - The Box was something Steward began constructing on his own after being struck by lightening/inhabited by the higher consciousness. The box he constructed matched images they'd received from the Viking program, but had no idea what the hell it was. The entity does not work with or for our government. Steward is a representative of an "organization" (aliens, celestials, whatever) who have sent him to assess humanity as a whole to figure out what should be done with us. The box works as such: button unit mechanism appears empty to deceive test subjects and disguise micro-technology. The sub-atomic data transmission occurs upon depression of button after which it becomes inactive. Surface memory collects the sub-atomic data and transmission occurs upon spring release by anodized aluminum button collar (which Arthur actually says it's made out of in the film). Say what you want about Kelly and his film being confusing, but he can explain everything in them. I love that he goes that extra mile. And yes, I know that was incredibly dorky. That's why this site exists. 😉

Fuelbot on Nov 9, 2009


#6...where did you get that from???? I remember something...remember the viral website?...on exhibit c...there were some pics at the end???

Trey m on Nov 10, 2009


Mr.Pretentious Richard Kelly now owes me 8 hours of my life back (after this pile of boring randomness called a movie after that piece of other nonsense called Southland Tales after that other overhyped for no reason weird pile of poo - I'm sorry... I'm really trying not to use any racial slurs for any of the things i watched - called Donnie Darko ) Being weird for just the sake of being weird has no value!!!

shora on Nov 17, 2009


this "movie" shouldnt have even been released. absolutely terrible ending. TERRIBLE. no one knows what happens to the little boy who just lost his father and mother? no one knows who is conducting these "tests". no one knows how nasa and these "aliens" or whatever they are, are connected at the end. this movie is just dumb and confusing and really doesnt give any closure to anything. the only good part of this movie is the acting. and i guess that it somehow kept you playing sherlock holmes thru the whole movie only to end it like i said, with no closure/explanation. maybe if the movie was a little shorter or didnt jump around and leave holes all over the place it could actually be a decent film. but dick kelly of course cant do that. i agree with #8!!

Justin on Nov 17, 2009


It was alright, bit nonsense on the ending though, that's just lazy writing being that vague.

Crapola on Dec 13, 2009


#8, #9, and #10, you guys are incapable of introspection. You represent a growing number of people who need to be spoon fed everything. Your news, your work, and obviously your art. Richard Kelly, for better or worse, takes a different approach to his films. He likes making films that require the viewer, through interpretation, to come up with a conclusion to make sense of it all. I can't stand people like you who need a solid, explain it all ending. Go watch a Michael Bay film if that's what you need. Whatever happened to imagination?

SaggyBalls on Dec 15, 2009


i agree with #11. all you guys are a spoiled bunch of unintelligent critics. imagination dyed #11. along with all people who actually THINK. Try engaging yourself in something that helps you grow rather than coming on here and bashing a film that people with imagination can discuss. Now i must say that I myself am not a member of all the movie cult movements but i can relate to number 11 who is saying this was an original film(or book) with a unique idea. it has plot elements that is unique to modern day film scripts and manages to deliver discreetly. Donnie Darko was a movie i stumbled upon and enjoyed. while Darko still holds as the original i must say i enjoyed this more because it pricked at my brain more and made me think about the meaning behind the characters, scenes and movie all together. as for all the shallow people who have seen this movie along with any other movie similar to this. I pity you.

unique on Feb 23, 2010


I'm really confused? I liked the beginning it was becoming a great movie but then the ending got all weird and confusing. First it's talking about Mars, then it goes to lightning? Then the wife and kid get Kidnap and kid gets put in a portal? Where is the wife? Meanwhile the Husband gets hit by a truck and then he comes out of the Hanger where the military is waiting, what did the military do to him? Why did they just let him go? Then him and his wife come home from who knows where to meet stewart and ask where their son is. He has to kill his wife so that their son won't be blind or a mute which is kind of fucked up to want to kill yourself so that you won't have a disabled child. Then Stewart tells them that their son is in pain if he stays that way so that they will kill the wife. First of all just because you are blind and/or mute does not mean you are in pain. Coming from a family with a disabled child that is very very fucked up! Look at how many people we have in this world that are blind and/or mute and they get around just fine, there is nothing wrong with them!

Izzy on Feb 23, 2010


Izzy, don't be absurd. You are obviously not a parent. A mother would most certainly give up her own life so that her child could have a full life. Being both blind and deaf means his life will most definitely not be all it could be. And what you are failing to see is that she would much rather die than live a life of torture caused by the guilt of knowing that it is her fault. Parents of disabled children often go through similar feelings of guilt, looking to blame themselves. In this case it would be true.

Rebecca on Feb 24, 2010


Oh, and I really got a kick of the "they get around just fine" part as well as the "there's nothing wrong with them". Riiiiggghhtt. Sure he can do everything anyone else can like drive a car, watch tv, become a lawyer or perform surgery.

Rebecca on Feb 24, 2010


Saggyballs is my new hero.

Kit on Feb 25, 2010


I've never been more confused in my life. Can someone please explain what the hell was going on in the move? I mean I have a wild imagination and I still couldn't make sense out of any of this crap. If someone could explain a few things to me maybe it would turn out that I liked this movie??? I still don't know how to feel about this.

Captain Poopypants on Feb 28, 2010


Stupid movie, just because someone smokes to much weed and throws paint on a canvas you liberals want to call it art. Idiots with the right to vote!

Bud on Mar 3, 2010


I'm a cult classic fan. I loved Donnie Darko and I liked southland tales. To be quite honest though, this movie wasn't the best. I'd watch it again but I don't think it's interesting to watch a movie that is not only confusing the whole entire time but ends with no answers. I'm all for imagination but give me a little bit to work with. I do enjoy Richard Kelly's work though. Oh and BTW #2 Office space kicks major ass. Enough said.

Shelby on Mar 9, 2010


I think the film was enigmatic enough to make us think about it after it had ended. (After all we've all come here to read others comments and have our own 2 cents worth.) Personally I think its nice to make your own mind up about something that is confusing, but I think this movie perhaps pushed that a little far. I think Richard Kelly is a good film-maker though, the musical score was great and for most of the movie I was kept in suspense. I just wish that he would make a movie that is eerie and strange but that all comes together in the end, I think that would be just as powerful as leaving his audiences scratching their heads.

rhett on Mar 19, 2010


I'm in agreement with #20. While I enjoyed Darko, I didn't drink the Kool-Aid. And that was my only other experience with Richard Kelly. I wasn't even aware he was the writer and the director of the Box, which causes me confusion because my take on this movie is that it may have been well-written but it definitely was not well-directed. There was ample opportunity for Kelly to leave us guessing through out the movie but, too many times, he unnecessarily pushed us in the direction he wanted us to go. Steward did not need to have that horrific face, Frank Langella's acting is exemplary enough to create an eerie, other-worldy antagonist all on its own. And the choppy editing was distracting, forcing you to stop and back the DVD a few clicks just to make sure you didn't miss something. As someone further up the thread mentioned, the acting was quite good over all. Marsden and Diaz both held their own even down to the dialects and period-piece interactions. All in all, my totally uncalled for opinion is this is a movie that was worth a 2-hour departure from the norm, yet fell short of living up to its full potential. Flame on.

Keyser Soze on Apr 6, 2010


I love that Kelly thinks adding magic doors made of water is "explaining" things. I don't know what to think about this guy and his movies. Sometimes I think he has a lot of talent and each of them are interesting enough to make me seek out more about the movies after viewing. But when I see/read Kelly talking about them it seems like he has no idea what the hell he's doing. I think the answer is to add someone else to the mix creatively. He needs a BS filter.

Nick on Apr 8, 2010


Dude. I totally know what is the cause of all this. The gods of mount Olympus. I am NOT sh*tting you here. It has to be! Reason? Well for one thing, this organism or body snatcher or w/e it is is bestowed upon a human through lightning. And they get from place to place through water. Ok yes my explanation is total BS. I still found the movie to be thoroughly enjoyable. I hate it when people need to be spoon-fed answers and don't infer or think about it themselves. When they don't understand what the movie is talking about they automatically label it as weird and stupid. As I recall, it mentioned somewhere in the movie along the lines that a high enough form of technology is indistinguishable from magic. Therefore, it's likely that this is a scientology-esque explanation behind it. By that I mean, there's probably a more wise/intelligent organism (or group of organisms) behind the testing and the decision making. I still think it's a form of organism due to the organism having trouble fully controlling a host without shocking them with lightning and ripping half their face off (something about frontal lobes... causing nosebleeds). I haven't seen his other two movies (I've heard one was pretty good and the other was shi*t on toast), but I think this one was nice to watch and fun to think about. Imagination: People need to exercise it by a mandatory art class... or a mandatory creative writing class (that involves motherf*cking PROSE) You could call it aliens, gods, or (as I will) the gods of mount Olympus.

THoadthetoad on Apr 18, 2010


Oh my, 23 I think you maybe grasping at imaginary straws there. The very fact you leap to such total craziness is completely understandable though, and nicely highlights that no imagination is going to make sense from this non-sense. To this end I am deeply in agreement with 20, 21 and especially 22 (hear hear Nick). I am involved with fine art and critiquing as part of my life (albeit art that hangs on walls). All I can't help but feel this film triggers the same response as abstract art in its viewers. Questioning: what it is? and by very fact of having to be it a position to question that, makes people ask: well if I have to question what it is, what value is it of? But here is the difference as I see it, abstract art is not about making sense of it but how that painting sculpture or video art piece makes you feel. Clearly this film is in some way (god knows how) supposed to make sense. I mean you heard in the interview Kelly trying to explain the story. Well frankly he should not have too, a correctly told story should make sense of itself or show you just enough so you can bridge the cognitive gaps for yourself, and you can't in this film. It is not abstract art in that, it is clearly supposed to have a philosophy or ideology, it is just poorly written and poorly executed, if the acting was not good I would of turned it off. And the fact pretentiously people harp on "have some imagination" "don't be so lazy analysis it" as if they understand it. All I can think is that Kelly is laughing at those poor saps all the way to the bank. He must know it made little to no sense and was messy and unnecessarily confusing. This film left me empty and for sci-fi what is worse is it left me uninspired. It was all over the place and after it ended I did not care to make sense to it, and that makes me think it was a waste of time. This is one step too far down the non-sense route, I will not be signing up to the pretentious cult that thinks this film is the dogs bollocks.

Harry Ewart on Jul 14, 2010


Liked the basic notion of the film - would aliens find humans worthy of ongoing existence - but it left me feeling uncomfortable rather than "intrigued". BUT can somebody tell me who the character is with the boy in the end?

Joe Hunkins on Jul 17, 2010


AHHHHHHHH! I have never felt so violated by a movie in my life. I don't just watch, but READ abstract scifi. My favorite being Philip K Dick, I'm used to questioning reality, having things unanswered, leaving things open to interpretation, and so on. This was just dumb. What makes this movies so bad is that it seems interesting and the acting is good so you give it a chance all the way to the end. Don't tell me I have no imagination. Your so dull that when you don't understand something you think its clever or deep. Maybe one of you could "spoon feed" me why every scene had NO correlation whatsoever with the previous or following scene. This was not clever or deep, but was however stimulating to no point which reminded me of my prom date. Until I saw this dipshit's interview, I held out that maybe, just maybe I didn't get it, but now I'm actually mad and I see this guy is making fun of all of us. I would punch this guy in the face if I saw him on the street. You should do the same.

Mind?Full on Aug 25, 2010


This movie sucked asshole. You "fans" of this movie are all pretentious idiots. Just because you watch gay movies that don't explain anything and you now have to guess what it was about doesn't make you smart, artsy or cool. "Oh yes, I love movies that make me use my imagination!!!! I'm gonna read way too far into this and bombard you with my nonsense that I mistake for intelligence!!!" I like my movies to explain shit. I don't want to be left confused. If I want to solve a goddamn mystery I will read a mystery novel or become a detective. How about making movies that actually make fucking sense? You are all idiotic...but I would expect this kind of douchery from Donnie Darko fans. P.S. imagination is for pussies

Wang kang on Nov 6, 2010


David Lynch Lite. except that david lynch never tried so hard to explain his movies after they're done.

David on Jan 29, 2011


i found the way the movie mirrored the bible was interesting. like how it was always the women that pushed the button just like it was eve who ate the forbiddon fruit. also in the way that he went through the water portol to find salvation just like you get baptised to be accepted to heaven. also i love how the movie teaches that a choice (pushing the button) has to be met with another choice (shooting his wife) sort of how the bible teaches u to "do onto other what you want done onto you" the wife got someone killed by pushing the button because of that choice she got killed her self. this is not all the biblical similarities but the top few that come to my mind. this film has a great religious under tone.

nicknickboom on Mar 9, 2011

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