Eagle Eye: From Spielberg's Concept to Caruso's Execution

The idea for Eagle Eye was hatched several years ago from the mind of executive producer Steven Spielberg. Stevens initial concept focused on the idea that technology is
everywhere, says co-producer Pete Chiarelli.

Technology Is Everywhere

Its all around us–what would happen if it turned against you What if the technology that surrounds us, that we love and depend on, suddenly was used on us in ways that could cause harm and was completely out of our control

Steven always wanted people to walk out of the theater and turn off their cell phones and BlackBerrys, because they were so scared, writer/producer Alex Kurtzman recalls much in the way audiences feared swimming in the ocean after they saw Spielbergs summer blockbuster Jaws in 1975.

Stretching Credibility

The story was in development for several years, because at the time Spielberg first conceived the idea, he thought that it would seem too much like science fiction, Kurtzman adds. It would have stretched credibility because the technology wasnt yet as integrated into our society as it is today.

In early 2006, Spielberg brought the project to Kurtzman and his writing partner, Robert Orci, the creative team behind Mission: Impossible III, the upcoming Star Trek and another Spielberg project, Transformers and its upcoming sequel, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

Bringing Human Perpsective

The trick now was figuring out a way into the story, says Kurtzman, making a film that would be more than simply an action picture with chase scenes and explosions. Ultimately, it was about bringing a human perspective to the whole story.

The story is about two strangers who are thrown together, framed for crimes they didnt commit, who are fighting for their lives while trying to prove their innocence. Its non-stop suspense is driven like a speeding locomotive as Jerry and Rachel become the pawns of a faceless enemy who seems to have limitless power to manipulate everything they do.

Any Time Period

Such an approach, Kurtzman notes, makes the film timeless, because the characters could be in any time period, and the audience can relate to them no matter when or where theyre from. Theyre just ordinary people thrown into a totally extraordinary circumstance way beyond their control, forced to do things they dont understand and have to find out why they have been chosen as the movie goes along which the audience does along with them.

Eagle Eye marks Kurtzmans and Orcis first foray into producing. Its been amazing to see this story evolve from an idea Steven brought to us two years ago. Watching the expanding scope of this movie has been tremendous.

Star Shia LaBeouf

The films star, Shia LaBeouf, expresses similar feelings. Ive never been this close to the formation of an entire project. The writing and rewriting is all very new to me. Its like raising a puppy. Theres a lot of pride attached, especially when youre working with friends and everyones rooting for each other.

While Spielberg originally intended to direct the film himself, he eventually changed course to focus on other projects, especially the large-scale action adventure Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Meanwhile, director D.J. Caruso was shooting his 2007 hit, Disturbia, for Spielbergs DreamWorks SKG. I showed him the rough cut of Disturbia, and he said, You know, we have something for you. I read the script, and I could see why, when he initially thought of the idea, it was way ahead of its time. I loved it immediately.

For many young directors, shooting a film with a master like Spielberg looking over your shoulder might seem a little intimidating. Theres always the added pressure of knowing this was a story Steven had gestating up in his brain for several years, Caruso notes. But he really made me feel at ease. He told me it was important that a filmmaker make every project his own. He said I want you to take this idea and make it yours. He trusted me to go in there and do it and make it my own, and still honor his story. Ive never enjoyed a more fruitful collaboration.

Director Caruso

With a story as complex as Eagle Eye, it was important to have a director who could bring balance to a film that featured not only intense action, but rich characters. D.J. brings an incredible sense of history to a project like this, notes executive producer Edward L. McDonnell. Hes worked in a variety of genres already. This is more than just a character piece, or just an action piece, it has complexity in the storytelling. His ability to streamline a story for us, to make it understandable and accessible, comes from his previous experience.

D.J. has shot so much over his life as a director as he came up through the ranks, adds co-producer Chiarelli. Its great for us, because we got to take advantage of somebody who had so much experience who knew what he was doing and made the movie look great, made the action huge, but still managed to pull amazing performances out of the actors.