What was the off-screen relationship like between Anthony Hopkins and Anton Yelchin?
Anton was very respectful to Tony. To me it was down to his cultural heritage in a way. He's Russian born, his parents were figure skaters, very cultivated and artistic, and brought him up to be aware of the privilege of being an artist. So, the idea of being with one of the world's greatest actors was a matter of immense respect. But, he never really let it intrude with his performance. The moment I said "Action!" he was into the scene. Anthony is literally a 'call me Tony' kind of guy, none of this Sir Anthony stuff. The other kids, like Will Rothhaar who plays Sully, were almost high-fiving him in the corridors.
Were there lessons you brought to "Hearts" from your last film "Snow Falling On Cedars" which was also a book adaptation?
One thing I learnt from my last film was not to worry about what the readers think. On "Snow" I was obsessed with the idea of keeping faithful to the readers because they would be my first audience, but they never went to see it. Now that "Snow" is out on DVD I've had numerous people tell me that they loved the book so much that they didn't go to see it at the cinema because they felt I would ruin it. Since the DVD was released they've seen it and thought it was fantastic. So, this time I wasn't worried about the readers, or the author, because I was making a movie that should stand in its own right.
What changes did you make to Stephen King's book for the film?
I took out some of the supernatural and horror elements to it. I rooted it in a human domain as a story, changed the ending, and did all sorts of things. I couldn't worry about Stephen King's work, his vast readership, they will just have to hope for the best.
Did it help that your screenwriter, William Goldman, had successfully worked on a Stephen King adaptation before?
Yes it did, but it was a bit of struggle, each of us measuring out the ground. But I kept him in the process all the way through. You don't shut talent like that out. I changed the ending of the movie about halfway through shooting, and I told Bill about it over the phone. He called me crazy, but the great thing with him is that if you articulate your reasons and fight for it, he can see the light as well. He goes from you're crazy to that's not a bad idea in about five minutes. It's more dangerous if you're working with a writer who just says yeah, I'll change it, because what does matter to them? At least you know that it matters to him.