Why Casting Hugh Jackman Was Essential For Reminiscence’s Director

Hugh Jackman in an amusement park in Reminiscence

A filmmaker having their first opportunity to direct a movie is a big deal – even when said filmmaker has been working in the industry for a number of years. A perfect example of this is Lisa Joy, who is the co-creator of/showrunner on HBO’s Westworld and is now getting set to release her feature directorial debut, Reminiscence. Having written the script, Joy making the decision to also helm the project was huge, and she recently revealed that one of the most essential parts of the whole process was getting Hugh Jackman on-board to star.

In conjunction with the trailer release this morning, Warner Bros. arranged a virtual panel with Lisa Joy and the cast of Reminiscence this week, and it was while talking about finding actors to play the specific characters in the movie that Joy explained the importance of having Hugh Jackman attached. According to the filmmaker, he was the actor that she had in mind while penning the screenplay, saying,

Myself as director was very high maintenance in that I only wanted to do the film if Hugh Jackman be the lead. So it was pretty high stakes for me. I wrote Hugh an email and he was kind enough to let me go visit him in New York. I was like, 'Oh, I'll just pop by.' Popping by for me meant booking a flight, going over there, finding his place. I sat with Hugh in his house and we talked for a very long time and Hugh was daft enough to let me into his house and let me pitch this thing to him without reading a script. But I just knew when I was writing it, I knew it was him and I just couldn't imagine anyone else.

Reminiscence is set in a not too distant future where war has taken a massive toll on the United States, and life specifically in Miami, Florida has greatly changed – with the streets flooded and people living nocturnally due to the oppressive heat during the day. Hugh Jackman plays Nick Bannister, a private investigator whose operation is greatly aided by the use of a special technology that allows a user to vividly and physically revisit their memories.

If you haven’t already watched it, you can check out the trailer for the upcoming film below:

Hugh Jackman went into great detail while speaking about his role during the virtual Reminiscence event, demonstrating what felt like real enthusiasm about the character. The movie is set to be a big mishmash of genres, and Jackman’s Nick Bannister is a textbook film noir lead to go with all of the science-fiction and the action elements. To go with the fact that he is a private dick, he is also a war veteran and exceptionally world-weary. In his words,

My character is a fairly, I would say, broken man at the beginning – fairly tough exterior, but his experiences in the war on the front lines and also as an interrogator have left him really quite broken and really sort of disengaged and distrusting of the world. And he has this company, which is fading at best. And into that world is comes the incredible Mae played by Rebecca Ferguson, who is extraordinary, and that changes everything because he's not expecting anyone to rock him in any way, particularly in the way that Mae does.

It’s just not proper to have a film noir narrative without a femme fatale, and it would appear that Rebecca Ferguson’s Mae is going to fit the bill perfectly in Reminiscence. As described by Lisa Joy, she comes into Nick Bannister’s life when she needs a “nudge” to remember where she left her keys, but that turns into a quick romance that then turns into a mystery.

Talking about Bannister’s relationship with the enigmatic Mae, Hugh Jackman continued,

He's just immediately intrigued and drawn in and mesmerized and increasingly becomes after this long – or relatively short, actually – love affair obsessed with her and needs to discover what has happened because he knows in his heart that something is wrong, something bad has happened to her, and he just won't accept any other version of the events, and goes on this great odyssey and through the darkest places of the world of Miami.

Co-starring Thandiwe Newton, Daniel Wu, Cliff Curtis, and Angela Sarafyan, Reminiscence will be arriving in theaters and streaming on HBO Max the same day later this summer – specifically on August 20. To discover all of the big releases set to come out between now and the end of the year, be sure to check out our 2021 Movie Release Calendar.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.