Did you hear the one about the Polish hit man (Sir Ben Kingsley) who gets sent from Buffalo to San Francisco to sober up? That's the nutshell plot of John Dahl'sYou Kill Me, a return to the off-kilter crime tales of his earlier independents The Last Seduction and Red Rock West.Téa Leoni doesn't just play the flinty-yet-flirty San Francisco saleswoman who falls for Kingsley; she also came on board the film as a producer. Dahl and Leoni spoke with Cinematical in San Francisco about low-budget film making, scene-stealing and other petty larcenies.

Cinematical: Your previous film, The Great Raidwas a effects-heavy period piece set during World War II; was part of the appeal of doing You Kill Me being able to do something more modern-day and not smaller in scope but less arduous on a production level?

Dahl: I think it was fun to do an independent film; but I think a lot of it is just kind of an amazing opportunity happened; Ben Kingsley and Carol Baum sent me a script and it was actually good. The challenge was – my first reaction when I read it was "Wow, this is a great script; no one will make it. It'll cost too much." It was like doing the limbo. I said, 'This is 11 million; maybe you could do it for seven. ..." And I think we finally settled on four.

Leoni: Three-point-four, I think we had at one point. ...