Based on the series of books by Patrick Ness, the new sci-fi film Chaos Walking, directed by Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow) imagines a planet where a phenomenon referred to as “The Noise” causes the thoughts of every man to be heard and seen by anyone around them. Living in a village consisting only of men, young Todd Hewitt (Tom Holland) is shocked when he discovers a crashed spaceship and its only survivor, Viola (Daisy Ridley), the first woman he’s ever seen. With Viola in danger, she and Todd work together to find a safe haven, while navigating his own ever-constant Noise.
Fandom spoke to Ridley and Ness (who co-wrote the film) about Chaos Walking, living with the Noise, those reshoot reports and more. Plus, Ridley chatted about an amusing connection between Viola and Star Wars’ Rey and the fact that both Rey and The Mandalorian‘s beloved Grogu have a similar Force ability…
SCARY HEAD SPACE
It only takes a few minutes into Chaos Walking to see why the film is titled what it is – and just how deeply unsettling if not outright horrible it would be if you couldn’t stop your thoughts from being heard or seen, or even, like for Viola, if you simply were around people who couldn’t stop that from happening.
Ridley laughed that didn’t think she would be in too much trouble though if this happened to her, because, “For me, it would be fairly like ‘I’m hungry’ or ‘I’m thirsty.'” That being said, “The thought of seeing other people’s thoughts is horrifying to me. I like that it takes a while to get to know people. I like that people choose what they tell people, how it is they present themselves. That’s what it is to be human and to form relationships. I’m very happy that this does not exist for real.”
Ness explained that his inspiration for the book was the feeling that we were, more and more, essentially hearing people’s unfiltered thoughts thanks to social media, explaining, “That’s how the original idea started, just how social media expects us to share everything and to me, the next logical question was what if we had no choice? What if you had to? And what a complete nightmare that would be, because we are filtered beings, and that’s a good thing for us because we can think awful things without having to say them and if you saw people’s thoughts, I think friendships would suffer, I think relationships would suffer. So I’m just asking the question about social media and about finding your boundary, finding your border of where your privacy behind it lies.”
COME ON, FEEL THE NOISE
In the film, Todd and Viola need to work past the fact that thanks to the Noise, he is never able to be guarded around her while she understandably is completely on guard at first, as a stranger in a strange (and dangerous) land.
Pondering that dynamic, Ridley remarked, “To add to the mix of all of that, we had Doug Liman literally screaming at us from behind a camera what the Noise was. So it was quite interesting because literally every scene was physically, audibly so loud because Doug was doing it. So it was a funny thing to be reacting to the actual subtext rather than reading the character that you’re playing opposite. There are obviously moments in the film where you do feel why this would drive people crazy.”
However, Ridley noted, “The reason Todd and Viola are so sweet together is they choose to be okay with it. They make a choice to be like, ‘Okay, we communicate differently and yes it’s difficult finding our feet with this,’ but they care more about being friends than any difficulties that might arise with the Noise.”
THE LIMAN APPROACH
While Covid-19 led to Chaos Walking’s release being delayed, as was the case for nearly every movie last year, the film had already garnered attention for earlier delays, some of which were caused by what was reported to be a notable amount of reshoots – which took a while to get underway thanks to Ridley and Holland’s Star Wars and Marvel commitments.
For his part though, Ness feels the reports were overblown, especially given so many of Liman’s films – including The Bourne Identity and Edge of Tomorrow – also were changed and substantially reshot as they were made.
Said Ness, “That’s how Doug Liman works, that’s how all of his movies have been made, you know? The studio plans for additional photography because he investigates and he tries and he looks and there’s always additional photography for his movies just as a matter of his practice. We had the good luck/bad luck of Tom being Spider-Man and Daisy being Rey, so getting the schedules back together for the way it was always planned took forever, more than we expected.” Ness said the reshoots were about “Doug finding the story and how he wanted to tell it, and it was getting to an ending that really capped that off. It’s not as its been portrayed in the press. We’ve always planned this.”
As for seeing Holland and Ridley embodying characters he created years ago in his book, Ness said, “It’s amazing. I’m not one of those authors where a movie role would erase a character in a book for me so I’ve still got my Todd and my Viola in my head, but they are so, so great in it. The charisma of both of them and the chemistry between them I think works very well. We cast them and then they became stratospheric so somehow I got the two biggest franchise people in the world in my movie which is insane, so you’re gonna hear zero complaints from me.”
REY, RAIN, and BABY YODA
Chaos Walking marks Ridley’s second big sci-fi story following her breakout role in Star Wars and while Viola is a very different character from Rey, there is one notable similarity – both were raised in a specific environment in space (a desert planet for Rey, a spaceship for Viola) and we eventually get to see both hold their hand out as they experience rain for the first time, which occurred for Rey in The Last Jedi and happens during a scene in Chaos Walking for Viola.
When I mentioned this coincidence to Ridley, she replied, with a laugh, “Oh my god, so true!”
So should we expect a third Daisy Ridley character at some point to have this experience?
Said Ridley, “Oh my god, that’s so funny. For the next few years I’m going to say to my agent, Hilda, ‘Hilda, please, we’re looking for something with a specific scene in the rain where I’ve never felt the rain before. Let’s make it happen. There’s a trilogy!'”
Ridley has mentioned she’s a fan of The Mandalorian and that show’s beloved Baby Yoda, Grogu, shares a rarely seen ability with Rey – both have been able to use the Force to heal others – along with Kylo Ren, I should mention, which I forgot about when speaking to Ridley!
When I jokingly asked how she felt about Rey and Grogu’s Force healing abilities and if she felt it was a competition or a bond, Ridley replied, “Here’s the thing… Baby Yoda is immensely powerful but also Baby Yoda is almost cheating because he’s so sweet that whatever Baby Yoda did you’re like, ‘Aww!’ Whereas I’m a human so I don’t have that. So I feel like Baby Yoda has had an easier time being a Force healer because it’s Baby Yoda being a Force healer. We’re both good in that space but he definitely has cuteness on me.”
Chaos Walking opens March 5.