EW talks to the director about her new film, ''Zero Dark Thirty''

What’s the meaning of the title Zero Dark Thirty?
It’s a military term for 30 minutes after midnight, and it refers also to the darkness and secrecy that cloaked the entire decadelong mission.

Your film has been kept under wraps too. This is about an investigation, but given your track record I would imagine it also has a fair amount of action. What type of story are you telling?
It’s a thriller, it’s a drama, it’s a mystery, it’s historical, it’s one of the great stories of our time. It traces the anatomy of the hunt for the world’s most wanted man.

Why were you personally drawn to this subject?
This is an amazing story about the triumph of will, dedication, and duty — about the real-life heroes in the intelligence community who worked behind the scenes day and night on what was perhaps the toughest assignment of their lives.

Questions have been raised about the access writer-producer Mark Boal gained to research this film. Was there anything you asked for that you were denied?
There are pieces of this puzzle that you can only discern through in-depth research. Research on this movie was exhaustive and thorough and unbelievably time-consuming, and it was Mark’s investigative skills and experience in reporting in this space that enabled us to navigate the sheer complexity of the pursuit.

At the time bin Laden was killed, you and Boal had a finished script and were preparing to shoot a movie about the failed effort to capture him in the 2001 battle at Tora Bora on the Afghan border. Did you scrap that version entirely?
The minute we heard the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed, what we had been working on became history. As interesting a story as that would have been to tell, the news redirected our entire efforts. It changed the movie idea forever.