It’s taken a while for Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s consideration of how electricity lit up the 19th century, THE CURRENT WAR, to finally make it to the big screen. This, ahem, illuminating story of the struggle of science, ego, and commerce was originally slated for a 2017 release, but became stuck in limbo when its distribution company, owned by Harvey Weinstein, went out of business in the wake of the Weinstein scandal. Two years later, 101 Studios has stepped up, allowing Gomez-Rejon the all but unheard of luxury of recutting his original film into what he really wanted to release. Hence its updated title of THE CURRENT WAR: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT.
We covered that last part during out conversation on October 3, 2019. I started, though, with an aesthetic question. When making a film about Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and Nikola Tesla as they compete to bring affordable and practical electric lighting to the world, what are the cinematic decisions about lighting?
We went on to talk the rock-and-roll approach he took to recreating the Gilded Age; the distinctly contemporary vibe that the rivalries depicted have; casting Tesla; and the difference between being famous and being right.
The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Edison, Michael Shannon as Westinghouse, and Nicholas Hoult as Tesla. It co-stars Katharine Waterston, Matthew McFayden, Tom Holland, and Tuppence Middleton. Gomez-Rejon directed from a script by Michael Mitnick, and his previous work includes ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL, as well as television’s American Horror Story and Glee.