Plus, Hancock talks about how Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Warren Beatty, and Danny Devito almost directed ‘The Little Things’ and what happened.

Some movies get made in an instant and others can take a long time. John Lee Hancock’s The Little Things, which stars Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto, is the latter. Originally written in the early ’90s around the time he wrote A Perfect World, Hancock’s The Little Things at various points had Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Warren Beatty, and Danny Devito attached to direct. But, for one reason or another, The Little Things never made it to the starting line. Over the years, Hancock’s filmmaker friends (including Scott Frank) kept pushing him to return to the script, but it wasn’t until recently that he actually dusted off his original screenplay and decided to helm it as his next feature after directing The Highwaymen at Netflix. What happened when he tried to get the screenplay from Warner Bros. (who originally paid him to write it and still owned the material) is a wild story that is best left to the filmmaker to describe.

In addition to telling the story about how this film got made, Hancock talked about why he is only strict with about twenty percent of his dialogue, why he wanted to subvert the cop genre, how he worked with his editor Robert Frazen to craft the tension, how he decided on the ending, if he had a much longer cut of the film, how he’s adapting the Stephen King novella Mr. Harrigan’s Phone for Netflix, and more. Trust me, if you’re interested in hearing the real behind-the-scenes story about what it can be like trying to make a movie in Hollywood you want to watch this interview.

Finally, if you haven’t seen the trailer, The Little Things – which is now in select theaters and streaming on HBO Max – is about two cops (Washington and Malek) trying to hunt down a serial killer in Los Angeles in the early 90’s. When they come across someone a primary suspect (Leto), it unearths a lot of trauma for Washington’s character that he hoped would stay buried. The Little Things also stars Sofia Vassilieva, Natalie Morales, Terry Kinney, Michael Hyatt, Jason James Richter, Chris Bauer, and Kerry O’Malley.

Rami Malek and Jared Leto in The Little Things
Image via Warner Bros.

Check out what John Lee Hancock had to say in the player above and below is a list of everything we talked about. For more on the film, you can read Matt Goldberg’s review.

John Lee Hancock:

  • How he wrote the script a long time ago and it only took 28 years to get made.
  • How Steven Spielberg and Clint Eastwood were at one point attached to direct the film.
  • Why Spielberg decided not to do it (was too dark for him after Schindler’s List).
  • How Warren Beatty and Danny Devito were also attached to direct.
  • How Scott Frank told him “you’re an idiot if you don’t do The Little Thing.”
  • While he changed a few things, the script for The Little Things is 90% of what he wrote back in 92/93.
  • After he got his cast did that change the script?
  • How he’s only really strict with 20% of his dialogue.
  • How tough was it to get financing?
  • How he was going to try and take the script to Netflix but WB owned it and explains what happened behind the scenes.
  • How he had done some rewrites on Safe House and The Magnificent Seven.
  • How once Denzel Washington said he wanted to make it the movie was going to get made.
  • How the movie is not the cop movie you’ve seen before.
  • How the relationship between Washington and Malek’s character is different than what you’re expecting.
  • Is it nice not having to worry about the opening weekends box office?
  • How he worked with his editor on crafting the tension.
  • Did he have a longer cut of the movie?
  • How did he come up with the ending?
  • Is he trying to develop any projects for streaming platforms?
  • How he’s adapting the Stephen King novella Harrigan’s Phone for Netflix.
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