Saturday, 18 March 2017

M. Night Shyamalan and James McAvoy discuss Split and beyond

First things first: do not read on if you have yet to see M. Night Shyamalan's (The Sixth Sense) Split. Consider this the mother of all spoiler alerts.

For years, one of the questions M. Night Shyamalan has had to field on a regular basis is, 'when are you making an Unbreakable (2000) sequel?' And for years, the writer and director of the Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson starring thriller has demurred and deferred and said 'maybe one day'.

But here is an M. Night Shyamalan style twist. It turns out that he had been making an Unbreakable sequel right under our noses. At the end of Split, Shyamalan's latest movie, it is revealed, first through a sound cue from James Newton Howard's Unbreakable score and then a more explicit post-credits sting, that James McAvoy's (X-Men: First Class) villainous Kevin Wendell Crumb – the host of 24 warring personalities, some of whom are lethal – exists and operates in the same Philadelphia as David Dunn, Willis' security guard turned superhero from Unbreakable. Split is, essentially, Unbreakable 2. "However you want to look at it," says Shyamalan of the semantics surrounding the title. "Maybe it's a new format – this movie, this movie and a final movie."

The hint is clear: Shyamalan is setting Dunn on a collision course with Crumb – and possibly Jackson's Elijah Price, also known as Mr. Glass – for that final movie, a new entry in the Unbreakable series. "I'm writing the outline now," Shyamalan told Empire magazine. "It's weird. It's long. It's the longest outline I've ever had. It has so many characters... I hope if Split is a success, I'll have the opportunity to finish the story. I want to finish it, so this is the third one." Considering Split took over $40 million in it's opening weekend alone, we should expect this one to move from outline to script to actual film pretty quickly.

McAvoy, meanwhile, says that he didn't know about Split's connection to Unbreakable when he first read the script. "When I first read the script, it wasn't there," he says. "There was some weird little allusion to the fact that it might be linked to Unbreakable, but it was so subtle I kinda discounted it. Then on the last day of rehearsals I was like, 'mate, is this thing linked to that thing?' It was honestly the most subtle thing you could ever have written. None but the greatest fanboy alive would ever have noticed it. So it went from being a tiny music cue to a whole fullblown scene with a major movie star in it."

That major movie star is, of course, Willis, and McAvoy admits that he is looking forward to facing off against him. "When two baldies go to war," he laughs. "My money's on B-Dog. I hope he lets me call him that."

Split, meanwhile, is out in cinemas now.

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