Why the director of What Happened to Monday avoided watching Orphan Black
What Happened to Monday is the new science fiction-thriller from Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters) and is set in a near-future when the government has initiated a one-child per couple policy.
“If you have more than one child, they will be taken away, and put into cryo-sleep,” says Wirkola of the world in the film, which premieres Aug. 18 on Netflix. “A woman finds out she’s having septuplets — seven identical girls. She dies giving birth, and the grandfather (Willem Dafoe) is stuck with the children, and decides to keep them and hide them from the world. He names them after a day of the week — Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and so on — and he creates one character for them, called Karen Settman, and they all get to live one day of the week [outside] and share this one life. One day, Monday disappears, so they have to find out what happened.”
All seven sisters are played by Noomi Rapace, (Prometheus, the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo films), who Wirkola cast after changing the original gender of the central character.
“When I came on board, the script was actually written for a man, it was seven brothers,” says the director. “So, I pitched the producers: ‘I wanted to do it with sisters.’ I just thought it would make it a more interesting story and make the dynamics between the siblings more interesting. So, I pitched it doing it with sisters and I also pitched them at the first meeting to do it with Noomi. Luckily, they liked the pitch, and I came on board, and then she came on board.”
Wirkola says he looked at some, but not all, previous projects in which the same actor had played multiple roles.
“I’d seen Multiplicity, and of course The Nutty Professor, a lot of these films,” he explains. “The one thing I didn’t see was Orphan Black, because I didn’t want to get influenced by it. I knew the comparisons would come no matter what and people would think about that show when seeing the trailer for our film, so I actually stayed away from that. But we did talk to a few of the guys working on Orphan Black, just to get some tips on the technical side on what to do and what not to do. They gave us some good pointers on equipment and techniques.”
So, did Rapace get paid seven times?
“I think that was the first pitch from the agents,” chuckles Wirkola. “She got well paid, I’m sure, but I doubt that she got [paid] for seven, no.”
Watch the trailer for What Happened to Monday, above.