Oscar-winning editor Lee Smith has been an essential creative force in Nolan's career, but he has interesting takes on how audiences react to their films.
Christopher Nolan is ones of the biggest directors working in Hollywood. Nolan has an incredible track record of films that takes audiences on inventive and exciting journeys. By his side through it all has been his editor and friend, Lee Smith. Smith creates a method to some of Nolan's madness and has collaborated with him on countless epic moments in recent cinema history.
Smith did an interview with D.C. radio station WTOP News, where he looked back on his career-defining collaboration with Nolan.
So what was his biggest challenge working with the auteur?
Making sure the audience is never confused!
“Chris does make very complicated films and I think my job in the whole process is to try to keep it as understandable as you can... Because there’s nothing worse than a film where the audience gets lost to the point of being disappointed. The secret that we were always trying to do with his films, Inception, Interstellar, and The Prestige, was being faithful to Chris’ original idea but never getting into a point where you’d be sitting there as an audience member feeling that you’ve been left out.”
I think of Nolan as the director of our modern era. I came of age with all his films, and have had the unique opportunity of seeing all of them (except The Following) in theaters. One of the things I appreciate most about him is the performances he manages to pull out of actors. Lee Smith thinks that's one of the more wondrous things he gets to edit, too.
Especially when it came to Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight.
“I saw [Heath] several times during the shoot of The Dark Knight on the set and it was always hugely amusing... Right from the first day of shooting, I was just completely in awe of how far he’d come from doing a low-budget film in Australia to standing there with his back to camera holding onto that mask as he commands the screen. I was sitting in a small trailer on location with Chris Nolan, the cinematographer, and everybody else and we’re just all sitting there going, ‘Oh, man, this guy’s amazing.’ Just the way he walks, the way he talks. He brought everything to that role.”
Editors are responsible for helping build performances, and Smith's work certainly helped Ledger take home the posthumous Academy Award.
There are more gems to be found in the interview, so head over to WTOP’s website to listen to Smith’s chat in its entirety.