Director Joseph Kosinski Talks ‘Oblivion’ Casting and Story Details

The ‘Tron: Legacy’ director created this original sci-fi epic as a graphic novel during the writers’ strike.

Director Joseph Kosinski offers new insight into Oblivion starring Tom Cruise
Director Joseph Kosinski offers new insight into Oblivion starring Tom Cruise
Last weekend, Universal Pictures debuted the Oblivion trailer to much fanfare. People seemed to really dig the look and style of this sci-fi epic starring Tom Cruise as a trash collector on a decimated, abandoned earth. Joseph Kosinski is directing the movie from his own original idea, and he recently paid MTV a visit, to chat about the story and the casting.

The movie is based on a graphic novel that Joseph Kosinski concocted during the writers' strike of the late 00s. Here, he tells how it all came together.

"I started writing this small character-driven science fiction story that was in the vein of those science fiction films of the 1970s that involved this lone survivor among the ruins of civilization, like The Omega Man or Silent Running...It was kind of in that vein. I thought if it was going to be my first movie it would have to be something very small and contained in order to even get a chance at pulling it off. So it's the story of a drill repair man, Jack Harper, who is one of the last human beings left on earth after a massive war, which was the result of an alien invasion. Even though humankind won the war, Earth was left in such a state that we had to look for another place to settle, and Jack is left behind to monitor and secure the resource gathering operation that's happening where we're gathering the last bit of energy out of the earth's seawater in order to move onto the next step.

[The graphic novel] was the original treatment, the story. At the time I was ready to turn it into a screenplay, WGA went on strike and we couldn't actually hire a screenwriter to work on a screenplay at that point. So in order to keep the process moving forward I teamed up with Radical Comics to develop and illustrate a novel in parallel based on this story. And we did that over a couple years, and then I got pulled into Tron: Legacy which was a couple years, and as Tron: Legacy was in post [production] I had enough between the story and the illustrations I had done with Andre, the artist, I had enough of a package to go out and set the project up at a studio which is what I did. And then I went into feature mode so, we never actually finished the graphic novel because once it got picked up I realized that the way I wanted this story to be experienced was on the big screen and not out of the book."

The director also talked about getting Tom Cruise to sign on as Jack Harper.

"It was our final Comic-Con for Tron: Legacy, and while I was showing the big Comic-Con trailer and we were doing our big song and dance for Tron: Legacy, I was also launching an ashcan for Oblivion, which was just kind of like an introductory chapter with eight images at the Radical [Comics] booth. And the day after I got back from Comic-Con, I got a call from Tom's agent saying that Tom had seen the ashcan and wanted to meet me and talk to me about it. I went over and met him at his hanger and I pitched him the full story 'cause he had just read that introductory beat, there wasn't a script at that point it was a story in my head. And I pitched him the whole story over about two hours and at the end of the meeting he said, 'Let's do this. I want to do this. I want to do this movie with you.' ... The role fits him like a glove. I just can't imagine anyone else playing this character."

He also hinted at what is not in the trailer.

"I think the trailer does a good job at hinting that the film does have a number or twists and turns and there are hard questions being asked and there is a character who is under pressure. But I don't really want to say much more than that as to what the plot of the movie is."

To read more from Joseph Kosinski about his original sci-fi epic Oblivion: Click Here! You can also watch the Oblivion trailer again, or maybe you missed it because you had better things to do last Saturday. It's quite amazing.

Oblivion was released April 19th, 2013 and stars Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Melissa Leo, Zoe Bell, Abigail Lowe. The film is directed by Joseph Kosinski.

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Comments (21)

  1. The Cryptkeeper: Resurrected

    Sounds pretty damn good

    2 years agoby @cryptFlag

  2. James Bond 1964

    @youngrizo My opinion is my opinion and it's just the British way I'm afraid.

    2 years agoby @JamesBond1964Flag

  3. Youngrizo


    I can try though, sometimes it works better than others lol

    2 years agoby @youngrizoFlag

  4. Youngrizo

    you are so mad! lol you need to calm down, it really isn't that serious, your opinion is your own, just know that here, unlike other major sites on the web where entertainment is discussed, you better be able to back up your opinion with more than just hateful, pointless eye rolling comments.

    If you didn't like Tron Legacy, that's fine. But if you can't make good points as to why without contradicting your own words and sounding like a teenager on xbox live, you're in the wrong place, mate.

    2 years agoby @youngrizoFlag

  5. the MovieGhost

    @dan1 I haven't seen Tron: Legacy in a while, but I do remember the music being particularly enjoyable. Of course, the main draw for me was Olivia Wilde :P

    @youngrizo As commendable as your attempt to reason with our newest cancer is, he's clearly just another troll of a person with nothing worthwhile or intelligent to contribute. Just look at his vocabulary.

    2 years agoby @the-movieghostFlag

  6. Sean

    @moviemaniac66 I do as well.

    2 years agoby @themoviefanaticFlag

  7. Sean

    @chuckconnors At least this will be a live action sci-fi movie with cool looking cgi and good story, and not some completely computer animated movie that is more for kids than adults.

    2 years agoby @themoviefanaticFlag

  8. Dan

    @skywise True. I guess it's more pacing, than exposition. I'm not a shallow action junkie by any means, but when a movie establishes a certain pace and then slams on the brakes, it starts losing people's interests. Inception worked with heavy exposition because it was a consistent pace throughout. We were being fed a lot of information, but in exciting ways.

    It was the fundamental problem with the Matrix sequels. They had terrible pacing, whereas the first movie trucked along nicely into a memorable climax.

    2 years agoby @dan1Flag

  9. ChuckConnors

    Sounds like "Wall-E" to me.

    2 years agoby @chuckconnorsFlag

  10. skywise

    @JamesBond1964 unless you like sh*t that is?

    2 years agoby @skywiseFlag

  11. skywise

    How can music be alright but pure sh*t? @JamesBond1964

    @dan1@youngrizo This is someone who obviously doens't know a damn thing.

    Speaking of movies with a lot exposition @dan1 Inception was a movie where exposition played a key role. I mean they were explinaing stuff to Ariadne ("us") right up until the van goes over the edge. Exposition is not a bad thing if done well.

    2 years agoby @skywiseFlag

  12. James Bond 1964

    @youngrizo Go f*ck yourself, seriously. Tron Legacy was boring and is the worst debut ever. I'd rather watch a tele novela than that childish sh*t. But I'm assuming you're very young, when you get older you realise that films like Tron are just pure and utter mosh.

    @dan1 Jeff Bridges face was as sh*t as cardboard. The music was alright but still pure sh*t. The movie was boring, plain and irritating to be nice about it. And I'm sorry, being boring is not professional.

    2 years agoby @JamesBond1964Flag

  13. Dan

    Tron Legacy suffered a bit in the middle with its exposition, but considering it was Kosinki's first movie, he did really well. It came off as professional as any other good movie from that year. The bike scenes and aerial scenes were top notch, the music was bitchin' and well placed, and Jeff Bridges of course brought his Dude charm.

    The in between video they did a while back, catching us up with Hedlund's character, was cool. If they continue in that fashion, the sequel should be an improvement (though that Eragon writer worries me....).

    Oblivion looks like a lot of fun, a good April release.

    2 years agoby @dan1Flag

  14. MovieManiac

    I have a good feeling about Joseph Kosinki's future in film making.

    2 years agoby @moviemaniac66Flag

  15. Youngrizo

    @skywise you're right

    @JamesBond1964 stop sounding like such an angry little sh*t. The man definitely had a far better first film than most of the 'great' directors out there did. He clearly has the mind for the stuff and knew himself well enough to try and envision this as a smaller story for the likelihood he'd want to make it a film... a lot of forward thinking creative people actually do this. It's common practice for those trying not to overwhelm themselves and still deliver something the way they envision it. You can dislike Tron but the truth is it wasn't entirely horrible, it was maybe unnecessary but fans wanted it, it was boring, but visually and thematically it's a very technically sound film with a great soundtrack. At least be objective in your criticism, there's nothing more annoying and cancerous to the creative world than hateful disjointed criticism lacking any objective reason, cause it helps no one.

    2 years agoby @youngrizoFlag

  16. James Bond 1964

    Well as far as I'm concerned if your first film is that big and boring and all round crap then you should be shot. Well, I can't blame him entirely of course it's actually the crappy CGI and script writers to blame. But it's so sh*t, the fact that they want to even consider a sequel is just pathetic and disgusting.

    2 years agoby @JamesBond1964Flag

  17. skywise

    @JamesBond1964 Legacy was his first film. And as far as first films go it was a lot better than many other well known directors. I think he bit off more than he could chew.

    But more to the point, the original Tron was a sh*t film as well.

    2 years agoby @skywiseFlag

  18. James Bond 1964

    This is not original and Kosinski is a talentless hack, I'm sorry to say but I slept throughout Tron Legacy. What a sh*t film.

    2 years agoby @JamesBond1964Flag

  19. zeus

    So this is an original story, is that right..or is that part of the marketing plan??

    2 years agoby @zeusFlag

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