ComingSoon’s Jeff Ames recently spoke with director and co-writer Stephan Rick about his film The Good Neighbor.

“A nightmarish evening unfolds for neighbors David (Luke Kleintank) and Robert (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) when they accidentally hit a woman on her bike and flee the scene,” says the synopsis. “While David is increasingly plagued by feelings of guilt, Robert shows no remorse and becomes overbearing and possessive.”

The Good Neighbor is available to stream now. Watch it on Prime Video or Redbox. on your Roku device.

Jeff Ames: What led you to become a director/writer?

Stephan Rick: There was a very specific moment in my life: As a 6-year old my dad took me to see Disney’s Snow White at the local movie theater. But while we were standing in line to be let in, I heard loud booming sounds and sneaked in the theater next to us. The sounds came from the big fight on planet Hoth in the opening sequence of The Empire Strikes Back. My six-year-old self was just blown away. I later begged my father to let me watch the whole movie. That day left such a huge impression on me, that I wanted to know everything about movie-making. And that led to everything else.

Were there specific individuals in the field who influenced your style?

There are many great filmmakers that inspired me. In particular, I always admired François Truffaut and Michael Haneke in regards to their ‘objective’ directing style, meaning the camera is more observing and less interacting, giving the actors as well as the audience space to explore.

How has your technique/style evolved over the years?

I think that style is something that is ever-evolving and changing. At the beginning of my career, I was shooting a lot of material, trying to figure things out. The more experience I gained, the clearer I knew which shots I really needed.

How did the story behind The Good Neighbor come about?

I always loved the idea that neighbors sometimes know more about your life than your own family. They see who’s going in and out of your house, they might hear your fights, they are physically close to you. I was still at film school when I saw a shadow behind the window across the street. Constantly looking into my direction. Was my neighbor watching me, the whole time from his room? I wondered what his motivation was, and if he wanted to be my friend. Later it turned out that it was just a basketball sitting in a shelf, that looked like a person’s head behind the curtain in a certain light. So basically, it was my own paranoia that led me to make this film.

What was the most challenging aspect of The Good Neighbor and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge was that this film is a remake of my first feature film Unter Nachbarn which came out in 2011. While I wanted to be true to the original material, I needed to find a fresh angle to make it interesting for me as a director. In this case, Robert, the antagonist changed very much from the Robert in the original film. In the original film, he’s like a toddler, that step by step becomes more and more unhinged. In the 2021 version, he is a much more calculating grown-up.

Do you have any fun, behind-the-scenes stories about the making of The Good Neighbor that you can share?

Jonathan Rhys Meyers had to learn Latvian for the role. He spoke it so well, that some of the extras thought he was Latvian!

What was your collaboration with the main cast like? What made you decide on Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Luke Kleintank, Eloise Smyth and Bruce Davison for their respective role?

What I love about Jonathan is that he’s not afraid to go to his darker side and bring it to life for a character. Luke is a guy that you immediately like, but the way he approaches David is interesting and ambiguous, so that viewers are constantly torn between rooting for him and being appalled by what he does next. They both have their very own way of approaching a character but they had a lot of respect for each others’ methods. Eloise fit perfectly in that mix. She brings a special quality to the Vanessa character: surrounded by toxic men she is always determined and powerful in all her grief.

And Bruce Davison is just a legend, that I always wanted to work with! I was very lucky that he read the script and was immediately on board.

Were there things you learned from working on The Good Neighbor that you’re excited to a​pply to future projects?

I’ve been wanting to make this remake for a very long time. Multiple times we almost got financed and then everything fell apart. So, the lesson is: No matter how many times you fall, get back up again!

Do you have any other projects coming up that you can share with us?

I am currently working on a very exciting German 6-part mini-series called The Root of all Evil which is a crime show that is in the spirit of shows like The Killing and True Detective. It deals with a horrendous crime right after the Berlin wall fell in the early nineties. An East-German detective and her West-German counterpart have to work together to solve the murder of a child.



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