Girl on the Train: Director Tate Taylor

Director Tate Taylor

To helm The Girl on the Train, producer Marc Platt turned to Tate Taylor, director of DreamWorks’ acclaimed drama The Help and Universal’s powerful biopic Get on Up.  Nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, The Help was also honored with Oscar nominations for several of its female cast, with the film’s Octavia Spencer winning the statuette for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

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“Tate is someone whose work I have long admired,” raves Platt.  “His strength is that he understands people, and he has a particular affinity for understanding women.  He was drawn to these characters and also has had people in his life who have gone through addiction…and emerged on the other side.”

Paranoid, Claustrophobic Atmosphere

“Tate is obviously a fantastic director, and his vision for the film is quite similar to my vision for the book,” adds scribe Hawkins.  “We talked about keeping the sort of paranoid, claustrophobic atmosphere, but the heart of the story is the same.”

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Taylor describes how he once again became involved with the studio, which had proved to be such crucial partners on one of his first films: “Holly Bario, president of production at DreamWorks, called and asked me to read ‘The Girl on the Train’ and if I’d be interested in directing the film.  As I read it, I saw a way into it, and I called her and said, ‘I’m in.’  Thus began the process.”  As was the case with their last collaboration, the book phenomenon was just beginning to take hold.  Says Taylor: “Much like The Help, it unfolded as I began the endeavor.”

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The director appreciates any source material that allows him to explore and deepen a character on the screen.  “When I saw another book told from the perspective of three women, that immediately interested me,” he offers, “and to flex my muscle in the area of a thriller was exciting.  As well, the universal themes of loneliness, desperation and battling addiction touched me.  It was important to reveal and portray them truthfully.”  In fact, that’s one of the few things Hawkins asked of him.  Taylor recalls: “She said, ‘Just make it great, and make it truthful.’”

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As Taylor prepared for the shoot, he revisited many of his favorite thrillers in film.  Still, there was an ingredient he felt was missing in many of these classics.  He notes: “I noticed that while so many were beautifully shot and thrilling, you often don’t get to know the characters well.  Perhaps there hasn’t always been room for that in a genre like this.  But with Paula’s book, I saw the opportunity to have both for our film, which I call a dramatic thriller.  The more you can deepen character and dramatic elements, the more the thriller aspects rise to the top; you’re simply trying to figure everybody out in this psychological puzzle.”