After a Tribeca screening of The Killing of John Lennon at Pace University last week, director Andrew Piddington hung around to answer some questions from the crowd. The biggest question, which someone finally dared to ask, was how come when we see Mark David Chapman visiting New York City, it's unambiguously the New York City of 2007? We clearly see Chapman pass by Planet Hollywood, Toys R' Us and every other Times Square fixture you could possibly imagine. Piddington's answer? He needs more money to CGI that stuff away, and hasn't raised it yet. Other questions during the talk touched, of course, on Chapman's motivations, the whole conspiracy angle, the central performance of Jonas Ball, how Piddington went about casting Lennon and Ono, whether he actually met with Chapman and a number of other issues.
Crowd: Talk a little about the research and the casting process for the film.
AP: Considering research and casting, the gestation for this movie began four years ago -- it's taken four years to make. I first came across a book by Fenton Bresler called Who Killed John Lennon? This was a conspiracy book that set out to prove that Chapman was a Manchurian Candidate. There was a lot of evidence in it, but no proof. What it did have was a lot of depositions and transcripts, court information, all of which was public domain. And once I started to read the psychiatrist reports I became fascinated by the actual character. That was what drove me, and that's what started it. I then went onto the Internet and you can imagine the sort of stuff that's on the Internet. It's full of very difficult things to believe, and so therefore I then went to Ebay, and over the course of a year, I purchased nearly every single newspaper that was published during that four or five month period. That became my prime research material.
My instinct was always to cross-check three times and if the same information came through, then for me that was valid, and that's how I built up the screenplay. The screenplay took a while to write, and the film took four years to make. Jonas Ball, who I believe gives a magnificent performance in this film, the fascinating thing about Jonas Ball is that he is very young -- he hasn't done a great deal, but everything up there is very real and very solid and very mature. The great thing about any movie actor is the ability to hold the camera -- to have this relationship with the lens -- it's a cliche, but it's true -- and Jonas Ball has that. If an actor can carry a big close-up and give you the emotion that you require, that's a marvelous tool to have, and it's great for a director to use that tool. So I think he's gonna do really well. It's his first film, and he can't be here tonight because he's working, so that's good.