Neill Blomkamp, the filmmaker behind the 2009 sci-fi hit District 9, apparently cut an interview short after a tense-sounding exchange with a journalist.
The South African director was speaking ahead of the release of his latest film, the fact-based racing drama Gran Turismo starring David Harbour and Orlando Bloom.
Blomkamp was being interviewed by Mike Ryan for the publication Uproxx. After speaking for a while, the conversation turned to Blomkamp’s previous projects, including the critically derided 2015 sci-fi Chappie, and a planned Alien sequel that ultimately never materialised.
Ryan referred to Skyfall director Sam Mendes, whose Best Picture-winning first film American Beauty overshadowed much of his early movie career. “When it’s not successful, people still review your first picture when you make your second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth,” he said, quoting Mendes. “I’m just wondering if you feel that way?”
“Yeah, I guess so,” Blomkamp replied. “But I mean, as time goes on, it’s probably less and less. But yeah, I just come back to the same thing where it’s like, I don’t see how doing the film that is influential at the time it comes out is negative in any way.”
After Ryan then pushed back on the idea that it was “negative”, he asked if Blomkamp ever got “sick of hearing about” District 9.
“It’s hard to answer. I don’t know. I need to take a second to think that through,” the filmmaker replied. “Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know. I guess I am tired of talking about it.”
Blomkamp is then asked about his cancelled Alien film, designs for which he had shared with followers on Twitter.
“It’s hard to define how little I care about what happens with Alien,” he responded, adding shortly after: “Yeah. So I guess I don’t want to talk about that either. I want to talk about Gran Turismo or we shouldn’t talk about… [...] Let’s just focus on Gran Turismo.”
The interviewer then argued that they had been talking about Gran Turismo “for 12 minutes” and were “not done yet”.
“Are you still there?” he asked, to which Blomkamp replied: “Yeah.”
Ryan then asked a question about Jann Mardenborough, the gamer turned racing driver who inspired Gran Turismo, serving as his own stunt double in the film for several driving sequences.
“Yeah,” Blomkamp responded.
After Ryan asked “what happened here?”, Blomkamp, said, “Well, I mean, we were talking about Gran Turismo, which was interesting.”
Ryan then said that he liked the film, before the director said: “We’ve spoken about it enough. I guess you have enough info.”
At this point, Blomkamp’s publicist interjected and suggested it was time to end the interview.
Sharing the piece later on social media after publication, Ryan wrote: “Still not exactly sure what happened here. I’m not a ‘my interview went off the rails!’ person because I find it kinda embarrassing, but let’s just say I wish this interview with Neill Blomkamp had ‘turned out differently.’ (And I liked Gran Turismo.)”
He also specified that he had interviewed the filmmaker four times, and “three and 3/4ths of them went really well”.
The Independent has contacted a representative of Blomkamp for comment.
Gran Turismo is in cinemas now.