Exclusive Interview : Roberto Orci


In the space of ten years, Mexican-born screenwriter come producer Roberto Orci has – excuse the pun – transformed from struggling writer to an in-demand blockbuster scribe and producer.

Kicking of his career writing for such television series’ as Xena : Warrior Princess and Alias, before entering the film game in 2005 with his scripts for The Legend of Zorro and The Island, Orci’s imagination and flair have put him at the forefront of the must-hire league.

After writing Paramount’s Mission Impossible III, Orci was hand-picked to pen the script for the biggest movie of 2007, Transformers. Off the back of its success he was hired to write the new Star Trek movie and, of course, the Transformers sequel – both due out next year.

Now, Orci tries his hand at producing (‘’Producing felt very natural as a result of our background in TV, where the writer is also the producer”) with the techno-thriller Eagle Eye starring Shia LaBeouf. CLINT MORRIS discusses it with him.

Orci, talking from his home in Los Angeles, says Eagle Eye is something that was first presented to him about a decade ago – by Steven Spielberg.

‘’Ten years ago, Steven Spielberg had an idea that he wanted to a movie about how ubiquitous technology could become, but he felt that the technology had not quite caught up to feel as real as he wanted”, explains Orci.  ‘’Then, four years ago, when [partner] Alex Kurtzman and I first opened K/O Productions through Dreamworks, Steven asked us if we felt we could do anything with this notion, and of course we jumped at the chance, and spent the next three years developing a story and a script with many talented writers.”

Eagle Eye tells the story of Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) and Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan), two strangers that are thrown together by a mysterious phone call from a woman they have never met. Threatening their lives and family, she pushes Jerry and Rachel into a series of increasingly dangerous situation, using the technology of everyday life to track and control their every move.

Though Transformers star Shia LaBeouf is a terrific fit to play Jerry Shaw, he was never on the radar – naturally; he’d have been about ten-years-old – when the film was originally conceived.

‘’When we started developing Eagle Eye, it was before even the first Transformers movie came out, so we weren’t thinking quite yet about the cast or the director. But once we were ready to go make the movie, the idea of teaming up again with Shia, and reuniting him with his director from Disturbia, DJ Caruso… it just came together perfectly.”

The easiest film to compare Eagle Eye to is Enemy of the State, the 90’s techno-thriller with Will Smith, but Orci says it’s an unfair comparison because ‘’Enemy of the State was not really a mystery.  It was about witness who’d seen a crime, and then killers were after him to silence him.  Eagle Eye, on the other hand, is going to keep you guessing until the last minute.  The other main thing that has changed is the world that we live in, and our movie reflects that change.”

Currently, Orci’s trying to get another conspiracy thriller up – and again, it’s an idea that’s over a decade old now. ‘’We are desperately trying to put The 28th Amendment together at Warner Bros.  That’s a movie we wrote ten years ago, which came back to life recently as a result of election fever.  It’s about a newly elected President who discovers that the country is really run by a secret committee.”

True story, then?