Thrillist: How did Steve McQueen bring you on, and how did he want to use the original television series in the script?
Gillian Flynn: He just got in touch with me. We just had a good old-fashioned meeting. We grabbed dinner one night in New York. They told me to go ahead and watch the miniseries. Number one, I loved the idea of working with him. He could have been like, 'I want to do a movie about talking kittens' and I would have been like, 'Cool, let's do it.' I just loved the possibilities -- they were kind of inherent. It seemed perfect for me, and what I've kind of done with my whole writing career has been to use genre to pull you through while I'm talking about things that are societally interesting. Whether it's in Sharp Objects with female rage and female violence and self-harm, or Gone Girl and marriage and gender politics.
This seemed exactly that type of thing. We could use a good old-fashioned heist film to talk about a host of other things. Set it here in Chicago and talk about gender inequality, talk about economic inequality, and talk about race, talk about corruption, political corruption. It just seemed set up perfectly.
The relationships between these women are very complicated. The other women are suspicious of Veronica. Can you talk about how you wanted to tease these out?
Flynn: I wanted it to feel like real women coming together under an incredibly intense circumstance and still in mourning, still incredibly raw from the loss of their husbands, some more than others, let's be honest. And danger, taking on this incredibly serious thing. Like I said, I wanted to feel that realism. I wanted to feel that conflict. These are women who have fought and scrapped their way up and have had to take on some intense circumstances already, so many of them probably wouldn't be easy to get along with necessarily from the get-go. They would be kind of challenging, particularly Veronica, who is grief-stricken and pissed off she's in this position and scared, and one of those people who hides her fear under anger. So, you really felt all that.
This wasn't going to be, 'Oh we are painting our toenails together and cheers and cue the wacky dance montage at our sleepover party.' This is not that movie. I wanted it to feel like an old-school heist in that way: That these people are wary of each other. They are not people who are particularly prone to trust in the best of circumstances, and just because they are women doesn't mean things are going to go more easily or more touchy-feely.
The Harry reveal is from the series. How did you think about approaching it?
Flynn: The thing to keep first and foremost was just how devastating [it is] for Veronica. That she of all the widows was the one who was still deeply in love with her husband. We open the movie seeing them lustfully in bed together, and that they were a couple. Even though, as we find out, [they] had their problems, she was certainly still madly in love with her husband. And so we wanted to have the full impact of that and to preserve that surprise for as long as we could, and then make sure it had that full measure of shock when it came.