Putting together an all-star cast is no easy feat, but Drew Goddard managed to pull it off with his latest directorial endeavor, Bad Times at the El Royale. Going into the movie, Goddard and the actors agreed to take pay cuts to both keep the budget low (naturally) and have more creative freedom. When asked how much of a concern budget was on the casting side of things for Bad Times at the El Royale, Goddard responded:
We did a budget before I sold it. The budget came with the script so that we can say to the studio, 'We want to do this affordably.' I have learned they will let you be bold if you keep your costs down, and I am OK with that deal. That's a fair deal. I work in all budgets. The reason we got to do Cabin the way we did Cabin was because it didn't cost a lot. I knew with this one, we also didn't want it to cost a lot. It was the sort of thing where we are all taking pay cuts. I could say to the actors, 'This is what it is. I want it to be bold. I don't want to have to cut out all the things that are bananas in this movie.' The tradeoff is we've got to keep the costs down. When we went to the actors, they sort of knew that going in. They knew we were all --- and it's true of me too --- we're all taking pay cuts to get to do something different.
Bad Times at the El Royale's main cast includes Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Cynthia Ervin, Cailee Spaeny, Chris Hemsworth and Lewis Pullman. Many of the names in that bunch don't come cheap, so it was up to Goddard to convince them this was the kind of project worth taking a smaller paycheck for so that 20th Century Fox would be more comfortable with them taking big creative risks.
Judging by the previews for Bad Times at the El Royale, it certainly looks like those actors bringing home less money ironically paid off on the creative front, as this movie looks all kinds of weird and "something different." Drew Goddard also mentioned in his interview with THR that just like what happened with The Martian (which he wrote), reactions to test screenings led to the movie being extended, which subsequently improved its quality.
On the off chance you haven't caught any of Bad Times at the El Royale's marketing, the 1969-set movie follows seven strangers who find themselves at the same hotel, the El Royale, which is nestled right on the border of California and Nevada. Normally strangers in the same hotel is nothing out of the ordinary, but these seven individuals, each with heir own dark pasts and/or secrets, will soon discover that there are strange goings-on both within and outside of the El Royale.