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Warning: The following story contains spoilers for Mute, so stop reading this now, go stream it on Netflix, then come back.
Duncan Jones (Warcraft, Source Code) has been saying for some time that his latest sci-fi thriller Mute is a spiritual sequel to Moon, the pioneering space-set pulse-racer he delivered back in 2009. And for those of you who watched Mute already, you probably caught Sam Rockwell's astronaut, Sam Bell, and his numerous clones on a TV screen in a scene with Alexander Skarsgard's mute hero, Leo. Sam Bell is confronting Lunar Industries, the company that stranded him aboard his moon base in the 2009 movie. But when we spoke with Jones ahead of Mute's release, he said that he shot plenty more with Rockwell that didn't make it into the final cut of the movie. Jones revealed:
There were a couple of things that, you know... there's an ongoing kind of poster 'Free the Sams' campaign that's going on in the background. We shot a couple of other optional things and let you know that sort of [had] Sam Bell being this folk hero almost, that people were campaigning to see him freed. So there was a couple of different sort of locations where he's talking to news media. But it was always just going to be an ongoing news story which is in the background of various media as we tell the story of Mute.
So, it's not like Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) was ever going to confront Cactus Bill (Paul Rudd) in that awesome American diner, or bowl a few rounds with Duck (Justin Theroux). But from the get go, Duncan Jones wanted to make it clear that the story of Mute took place on the same timeline as Moon, and that Sam Bell received some closure because audiences now know that he got home, and managed to confront his diabolical employers.
As soon as we made Moon, I was back on the 'I need to make Mute' train. And I had already thought that the science fiction world that we kind of established in Moon was really kind of interesting and worth expanding on. Was there a way that I could adapt Mute to take place in that same world? So even back then, like 2010 and 2011, I was starting to make changes to the script, just kind of bring the two of them together. And I kept mentioning to Sam Rockwell as I was working, 'You know, if I can do this, will you come in and do a cameo for me?' And he was always very supportive. So he came out to Berlin and Justin Theroux and myself and Paul Rudd all had a good giggle behind the camera while Sam was changing wardrobe and doing all of his various versions of Sam.
It really is a funny scene that, even though it lasts seconds, probably took longer to film than you realize. It's part of the detail that makes Mute special, and worth a watch. The movie is on Netflix as we speak. Check out our review, then head over to the streaming service and see what has become of Sam Bell.