By Phil Contrino
After finding massive mainstream success as the scribe behind 2004's blockbuster, The Day After Tomorrow, Jeffrey Nachmanoff was given the chance to step behind the camera.
The project Nachmanoff chose, Traitor, which hits theatres nationwide on Wednesday, is a far cry from Tomorrow.
Finding its home at Overture Films, Traitor is a political espionage thriller that forces its audience to stay on their toes even while they are being entertained. It paints a very realistic picture of our modern world where "bad guys" and "good guys" are not so easily defined and the lines that separate the two groups are becoming more blurry with each passing moment.
While speaking to the press in New York City this past weekend, Nachmanoff confirmed that such 1970's classics as The French Connection, All The President's Men and Three Days of the Condor served to influence Traitor. In addition, the first-time director studied the style behind 2005's The Constant Gardener.
Traitor represents a continuation of a trend that has brought back the kind of politically-infused thriller that was so popular in the 70's. Along with Gardner, recent films such as Syriana, Traffic and Michael Clayton had their trails blazed by the same great works of that era.
While Nachmanoff was able to learn from those films as well as from visiting the set of Tomorrow, his first experience as the head honcho brought with it entirely new lessons.
"The single biggest thing I learned is that you have to get your ego out of the way to do the job," said Nachmanoff when asked what his most important lesson was. "To get the best out of people you have to trust them and you have to let them help you do your job."
Of course, it didn't hurt that the neophyte director had two of the most well-respected actors working today starring in his debut.
Don Cheadle and Guy Pearce lead an impressive ensemble cast that also includes Jeff Daniels, Saïd Taghmaoui and Neal McDonough. Cheadle served as a producer on the film, which also boasts a story credit by Steve Martin.
For Cheadle, finding a balance between making the film entertaining while providing it with a deeper message was a challenge worth approaching.
"With a film like this, I want to entertain first and if I can smuggle in some of those ideas and if I can smuggle in some of that more thought provoking material so you walk out with that in your head, then that's the goal," said Cheadle.
Both Cheadle and Pearce had to do limited research for the film, since Nachmanoff's script already contained so much of what they needed to bring their characters to life.
"If I'm having to do too much research it's usually because there's something missing in the script. And in this case, the script was really quite detailed and the information that I felt like I need personally to sort of move forward and act was very much there," said Pearce of the experience.
Up next, Cheadle has both
Hotel for Dogs
opening in 2009. Meanwhile, Pearce will be seen again later this year opposite Charlize Theron and Viggo Mortensen in
which is an adaption of a Cormac McCarthy (
No Country for Old Men
) novel and he also recently finished filming
with Adam Sandler.