Full Production Notes For M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN'S GLASS
UNIVERSAL PICTURES PRESENTS
IN ASSOCIATION WITH PERFECT WORLD PICTURES
A BLINDING EDGE PICTURES/BLUMHOUSE PRODUCTION
AN M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN FILM
WITH SARAH PAULSON
AND SAMUEL L. JACKSON
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN
M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN weaves together the unforgettable narratives of two of his visionary original films—2000’s Unbreakable and 2016’s Split—in one explosive, all-new comic-book thriller: Glass.
From Unbreakable, BRUCE WILLIS returns as David Dunn as does SAMUEL L. JACKSON as Elijah Price, known also by his pseudonym Mr. Glass. Joining from Split are JAMES MCAVOY, reprising his role as Kevin Wendell Crumb and the multiple identities who reside within him, and ANYA TAYLOR-JOY as Casey Cooke, the only captive to survive an encounter with The Beast.
Following the conclusion of Split, Glass finds Dunn pursuing Crumb’s superhuman figure of The Beast in a series of escalating encounters, while the shadowy presence of Price emerges as an orchestrator who holds secrets critical to both men.
Joining the all-star cast are Unbreakable’s SPENCER TREAT CLARK and CHARLAYNE WOODARD, who reprise their roles as Dunn’s son and Price’s mother, as well as Emmy and Golden Globe winner SARAH PAULSON (American Crime Story: The O. J. Simpson Story, American Horror Story series).
The film’s director of photography is MICHAEL GIOULAKIS (Split), the production designer is CHRIS TRUJILLO (Netflix’s Stranger Things), and the costume designer is PACO DELGADO (Split, Les Misérables). Glass is edited by LUKE CIARROCCHI (Split) and BLU MURRAY (Sully). The composer is WEST DYLAN THORDSON (Split).
This riveting culmination of Shyamalan’s worldwide blockbusters is produced by Shyamalan and Blumhouse Production’s JASON BLUM, who also produced the writer-director’s previous two films for Universal. They produce again with ASHWIN RAJAN and MARC BIENSTOCK, and STEVEN SCHNEIDER executive produces. GARY BARBER, ROGER BIRNBAUM and KEVIN FRAKES also serve as executive producers.
A Blinding Edge Pictures and Blumhouse production, Glass will be released by Universal Pictures in North America on January 18, 2019, and by Buena Vista International abroad.
Evolution of a Trilogy
From Unbreakable to Glass
Long before he started making his 2016 smash, Split, M. Night Shyamalan intended for it to be far more than just an electrifying stand-alone film. The terrifying, breakneck thriller centers on Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), a man with dissociative identity disorder whose more sinister personalities (collectively known as The Horde) kidnap three teenage girls. The plan is to feed the “impure” girls to another of Crumb’s personalities, a superhuman creature known as The Beast. The final girl, Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy) is spared because The Beast sees scars covering Casey’s body, markers of childhood abuse. Because Casey, unlike the other girls, has suffered, her heart is pure. “Rejoice,” The Beast tells her. “The broken are the more evolved.”
It was a riveting and powerful story on its own merits, but what no one outside of Shyamalan’s inner circle knew, of course, was that the master filmmaker also planned for Split to exist in the same narrative universe of an iconic film he had made 16 years earlier - 2000’s Unbreakable – and that Split would form the connective tissue of the most unprecedented and unexpected trilogy in film history.
Unbreakable, about a security guard named David Dunn (Bruce Willis) who becomes the sole survivor of a train wreck, posed the question of what would happen if superheroes were real. At the insistence of a mysterious, rare-comic-book collector named Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), who suffers from a medical condition that makes his bones shatter on the slightest impact, Dunn comes to believe that he has super strength and is impervious to injury or illness. Not only that, he has the ability to see or sense the evil deeds of others simply by touching them. As Dunn accepts this new reality and begins to exercise his powers, he becomes a vigilante warrior, saving the innocent and punishing the criminal. He finds his true calling. In the film’s final scene, Dunn goes to thank Price, but in a moment of physical contact between the two men, Dunn sees, to his horror, that Price has caused the train wreck that Dunn survived, and has committed other acts of terrorism that have killed hundreds, all in an attempt to find Dunn. Why? Because if Dunn is unbreakable and a superhero, and Price is Dunn’s opposite, then Price, at last, knows for certain who he himself is: a supervillain, Mr. Glass.
In addition to its critical and commercial success, Unbreakable would prove to be an incisive, prescient, and almost-eerie cultural bellwether. Made years before the explosion of Marvel and DC superhero movies that dominate the industry today, the film became, and remains, a lodestar for comic-book fans worldwide. More than a decade after its release, Shyamalan was still routinely asked by reporters and fans if he ever planned to make a sequel. He always demurred. And, in typical Shyamalan fashion, when he finally did decide to do it, he did it in a way that no one saw coming.
The final scene of Split takes place in a Philadelphia diner, where patrons can be seen watching a news report that one of the kidnapped girls has survived but that Crumb is still at large. As the news report continues, we see a man at the counter in profile, and as he turns, we realize that it is David Dunn (Willis). Longtime Shyamalan fans lost their minds, speculating on what the scene might mean. Younger fans were left scratching their heads, at first. “Some of the teenagers were like, ‘Who’s that old guy in the diner?’” Shyamalan says, laughing. “But then they go and watch Unbreakable, and they fall in love with the tonalities of where it all started.”
Shyamalan’s vision was to create a trilogy unlike any before. “I want each film be a stand-alone in its power, in its language, in its originality,” he says. And that the artistic whole of the trilogy exceeds the sum of its parts. “The three films honor each other as brothers and sisters,” he says. “That would be the hope.” Adds producer Ashwin Rajan, “It’s two worlds, two previous films, colliding. Creatively, it’s about tying those two worlds together seamlessly, both from a production standpoint and on a story level, to execute Night’s vision.”
Where Unbreakable examined a man whose modest self-image had blinded him to his own true power, and Split explored the lethal power of a monster created by a mind wounded by trauma, Glass delves into the root of identity itself: whether we are objectively who we are or whether our minds can shape and ultimately determine our physical realities. If you believe you’re a superhero, are you one, even if your belief is a delusion? “I’ve been interested in psychology, and the psychology of therapy, since college, so those themes have been very organic,” Shyamalan says. “Over time, the research and the story start feeding each other. With Split, I’d be reading about dissociative identity disorder, and then I’d think, ‘Oh, that could be a great moment.’ Unbreakable started the same way. I had snapped both of my ACLs in my knees from playing basketball and I had spent a lot of time in rehab and physical therapy. That informed the whole of Unbreakable.”
At the beginning of Glass, we discover that in the 16 years since Unbreakable, David Dunn has become a legitimate vigilante hero, known as The Overseer, protecting the citizens of Philadelphia full time with the help of his now-adult son, Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark). But Dunn is a controversial figure and is wanted by police. His success depends on maintaining his anonymity and staying one step ahead of the law. Crumb’s sinister personalities, The Horde, meanwhile, have kidnapped four more teenage girls to feed to The Beast. Police have been unable to find them. Dunn needs to find Crumb, and fast.
When he does, the epic battle will result in both Dunn and Crumb being captured and detained at Raven Hill Memorial Psychiatric Research Hospital under the forced care of Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), who specializes in a specific type of delusion of grandeur: people who believe they are comic-book characters. Notably, she has a third patient suffering from the same alleged affliction, a man who has been housed at Raven Hill for 16 years: Elijah Price. Price, now permanently in a wheelchair and heavily sedated, seems a shell of his former self.
As the three men grapple with their situation, they will be aided from the outside in various ways by Dunn’s son, Joseph, Price’s mother (Charlayne Woodard) and Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy), who has formed a singular, almost spiritual bond with Crumb, her former captor.
For Shyamalan, the joining together of these characters, from these two films 16 years apart, surprised him in unexpected ways. “I’ve never done anything like this,” he says. “So it was very nostalgic for me. It represented a large section of my career, so I felt a great sense of emotion, and a great sense of urgency to do right by it,” he says. “People are excited to see this movie because of their connection to one or both of the two movies, and that’s a strange relationship to the audience I’ve never had before.” Indeed, all of his films are original creations. He’s never even made a sequel. “Usually people are coming to a movie of mine because I’m telling a story that seems intriguing to them and that they don’t know much about. But this time, the audience has ownership. They have expectations. That’s a really different process, and one I took seriously.”
As a bonus, Shyamalan was able to incorporate never-before-seen footage from Unbreakable into Glass for scenes representing David Dunn or Joseph’s memories. “It was amazing, because these scenes that we cut out of Unbreakable have always been in my head, and I was thinking these scenes could work into the movie if I wrote them in the right way,” he says. “We were really excited to put them in the movie, and the audience can’t believe what they’re looking at. In one scene there’s a boy, and then you see him at 25 years old in the very next scene. There’s no CGI. That’s really both of them. And it’s the same thing with Bruce Willis. To see someone age eighteen years right in front of you is a powerful thing.”
The story of Glass, producer Rajan says, “just feels epic. There’s a poignancy and an inspiration to it.” And the scale of the film, says fellow producer Marc Bienstock, is much larger. “Split was more contained, with the girls held captive in just a few rooms, and Glass is more expansive,” Bienstock says. “The scope is bigger, and there’s considerably more action.”
Kevin Wendell Crumb/The Horde
Elijah Price/Mr. Glass
Samuel L. Jackson
Since we last saw Elijah Price proudly confess to his crimes at the end of Unbreakable, and declare himself the supervillain Mr. Glass, he has been housed at Raven Hill hospital in the psychiatric ward. Now in a wheelchair permanently, he has been heavily sedated for much of his incarceration there in an attempt to keep his mesmeric intellect contained. Early in his stay there, he had managed to shut down the hospital’s entire electrical grid.
When we first see him in Glass, he’s a shard of his former self, a dead-eyed blank who doesn’t even acknowledge that his mother is in the room, much less answer her questions. But it soon becomes clear that there is more going on behind those eyes. “He’s pretty much the same guy,” Samuel L. Jackson says. “Elijah is still very calculating, he’s still very watchful, he’s still strong. He has just been isolated, which has given him a lot more time to formulate opinions, formulate plans, and to dig in to what he believes even further.”
The arrival of Dunn and Crumb presents Price with a prime opportunity to not only liberate himself, but to liberate the culture by exposing the truth that superpeople walk among us. This puts him in direct opposition to Dr. Staple’s belief that the men are deluded. What makes Price so dangerous, of course, is that no one knows what he’s up to. Until, that is, it’s too late.
Indeed, one of the film’s most clever narrative devices is gradually shifting our perceptions of Price. The character doesn’t change, but we begin to see him in a new light. “The idea of having a marginalized character that is your hero, who is the title character, is very satisfying for the audience,” Shyamalan says. “You really want him to succeed, even if some of the things he’s doing are dastardly.”
Spencer Treat Clark
The son of David Dunn, Joseph is now 25 years old and runs Dunn Security with his father. In Unbreakable, Joseph, then 9, was the first true believer that his father had superpowers. He still believes in his father, and has become David’s partner in vigilante crime fighting, helping him locate criminals, monitoring his father’s activities remotely via camera, and communicating with his father through an earpiece during his missions. In many ways, Joseph has become his father’s protector, assessing the risk of various situations and also staying wary of the police, who are on the hunt for David. His father’s incarceration at Raven Hill will test Joseph’s ability to do that, and he will be forced to question his belief in his father’s powers.
For Spencer Treat Clark, the opportunity to resurrect a role he played as a child was a gift, and one that stunned him. “It was pretty unbelievable, the whole thing,” Clark says. “When Split came out I was on a camping trip with my friends and had my phone on airplane mode. When I got back I had, like, 15 texts from people asking me if I’d seen it. So I went, and at the end, when I heard the Unbreakable score and then saw Bruce, and I was like, ‘Huh?’” I really had no expectations, and when I had a call with Night, I was pretty sure it was going to be a courtesy call to tell me they had hired Chris Hemsworth to play Joseph. But he said he had a role for me, and two months later I got the script. It was crazy.”
LOCATIONS AND FILMING
Brick Warehouses and Abandoned Hospitals
The Search for Glass architecture
As with almost all of Shyamalan’s films, Glass was shot in and around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The two most critical locations that Shyamalan needed to find were a brick warehouse, where The Beast is holding the cheerleaders he intends to kill and where The Beast and David Dunn engage in an epic brawl, and a building that could become Raven Hill hospital, where most of Glass takes place.
To find the perfect locations, Shyamalan asked location manager STACI HAGENBAUGH, with whom he’d worked on his films The Happening, The Visit and Split, to begin the search.
THE PRODUCTION DESIGN
Color, Claustrophobia and Character
Crafting the Glass Universe
For production designer Chris Trujillo, the Allentown State Hospital also helped guide the overall look of the film. “To go into those big, old derelict facilities and see all of that turn-of-the-century grandeur is incredible,” he says. “And the fact that it was designed for the purpose of a mental health facility is also really interesting. It gave us insight into what that world looked like.”
The holding rooms for each of the three main characters – Dunn, Price and Crumb – had to be both visually in sync with the design of the overall hospital, but also be retrofitted to control each man’s particular powers. Character and story drove design. “Each room is tailored to who each of those men is,” producer Rajan says. “David Dunn, who has a weakness for water, is in a room with a water system that can spray water at him if he tries to escape. The Horde [Crumb] is in a solitary room with lights that can control his personality changes, and Mr. Glass [Price] is in a padded room so that he's not able to break his bones. The rooms each have a personality, given the character.”
Dunn’s water-system room was particularly challenging to design, Trujillo says. “It was a lot to conceptualize, to figure out how to make that set really interesting and striking but also believable. The materials had to exist in the real world, and it had to be something that could conceivably be created.” The results speak for themselves.
In general, Trujillo wanted to employ a subtle design aesthetic, but to use color in very specific and strategic ways. “There's a very clear color theme running through all of the sets and the costuming,” Trujillo says. “The color quality is very specific in places so that the audience knows our intention. One space may have a desaturated, almost claustrophobic vibe and another may be more saturated, a little louder color. We’re trying to be very specific about what we're suggesting about the psychology of the characters, based on the color of the spaces. That’s very deliberate.”
Nowhere is that more evident than in the room where Dr. Staple treats Dunn, Crumb and Price together, in a sort of superhero group-therapy session. “It’s this enormous, fabulous room that is monochromatically in pink tones,” Trujillo says. “That was a little counterintuitive for me, but Night was very confident about it, and it's pretty incredible. It’s this hypnotic, Kubrick-ian, bizarre room. That was a lot of fun.”
Purple, Green and Gold
Designing a Perfect Palette
Those three colors – green, purple and yellow – extended into the looks of each man’s family member or surrogate family member. This created a visual connection between David Dunn and his son, between Price and his mother, and between Crumb and Casey Cooke. The key was to do it in a way that felt organic and subtle. “Obviously these family members are not superheroes, so the color identification for each is not as strong,” Delgado says.
Delgado and his team also had to solve a little water problem. There’s quite a lot of it in Glass, and that restricted which fabrics they could use, particularly for David Dunn. “Water is his kryptonite; it’s the only way that this character can be defeated,” Delgado says. “So you need to work with materials that don’t get ruined by water. That was great, in a way, because we were able to work with certain images — like raincoats and things like that — that are sort of magical.”
And one of the best side benefits of working with actors who have all played their characters before was that they brought their own ideas to some of the clothing and accessories. For one scene, Delgado had dressed Jackson’s Elijah Price in a cravat pierced with a pin, but Delgado felt the pin wasn’t working. “Then Sam said, ‘Why don’t you create a pin with the initials of my name: Mr. Glass?’ So we made this pin with ‘MG,’ in diamonds. I loved that idea.”
THE VISUAL EFFECTS
The Subtle Art of CGI
A signature hallmark of all Shyamalan films is the seamless integration of visual effects into a real world. Unlike with almost every other major studio movie, and certainly all superhero movies, Shyamalan’s effects never call attention to themselves. In fact it’s often impossible to tell which elements, if any, are computer- generated at all. That is both by creative intent, but it’s also borne of practical considerations.
“With Glass, we are making a comic-book movie that is one-tenth the cost of every other comic-book movie,” Shyamalan says. “I do that for many, many reasons, but artistically, I believe in minimalism and I believe in limitations. I believe we do our best work when we’re faced with parameters: These are your four crayons; what painting can you make?”
That philosophy extends to visual effects. “We want the film to feel grounded, and yet compete with that level of spectacle that audiences have come to expect from, say, a Marvel movie,” he says. “Now, audiences know tacitly, when they come to my movies, that’s not what you’re going to see. They’re going to see a psychological thriller. That gives us an advantage. If you’re going 30 miles an hour and you suddenly jump to 45 miles per hour, it feels like 60. We count on that illusion. You’re watching a drama and then, suddenly, there’s something just slightly extraordinary. That’s what the CGI does for us in Glass.”
Shyamalan, his cinematographer Michael Gioulakis, and the rest of the creative team worked with FX company Powerhouse, originally based in Philadelphia, to achieve effects on Glass that will thrill audiences without taking them out of the movie. “I’ve had situations on other movies where I wasn’t confident in the CGI team, so I kept looking at non-CGI answers,” Shyamalan says. “But when you have a group like Powerhouse, you start to go, ‘Hey, this is possible! That is possible!’ It opens up a different way of thinking about it. They did just a wonderful job, and often with things that audiences will never even realize.”
A Singular Sonic Score
All franchises, from Star Wars to Jurassic Park to Despicable Me have their signature musical themes. The music of the film is immediately recognizable and synonymous with the franchise itself. Glass may be the third part of a trilogy, but it’s unlike any franchise ever made, and that presented Shyamalan and his composer West Dylan Thordson with an opportunity to create a score unlike any ever made, too.
“The music for Glass was a unique challenge, because we’re making a sequel to two movies from two different generations, and one of the concomitant issues of that is that you’re talking musical styles from two different generations,” Shyamalan says. “Unbreakable was kind of an old-school Hollywood score. It’s very unusual and has a great percussion kind of movement to it. It was cutting-edge at that time, but it’s played by a 100-piece orchestra. The way we approached Split was sonically, with almost a Nine Inch Nails-y vibe. We were taking a cello sound and turning it and twisting it and bending it, and that was very cutting edge for now. So how do you bring these two approaches to one film?”
The solution was for Thordson to take the themes from Unbreakable, composed by James Newton Howard, and revise them in his own style and musicality. “It came out more minimalized, very, very, simple and stripped down with kind of the tones of West,” Shyamalan says. They then used the musical themes from Split that Thordson had composed for that film. He also composed new themes specific to Glass. Finally, for flashback scenes from Unbreakable, they used the original score from that film.
“It was an evolution,” Shyamalan says. “West was on the movie for a good eleven months, I think. This was a really big commitment. He moved to Philadelphia, set up his stuff at our offices and at his home in Philadelphia, and just went for it. And he has a really unusual way of approaching it.”
For one experiment, which wasn’t ultimately used in the film, he recorded sounds at the Allentown State Hospital where the Raven Hill scenes were shot. “He would do incredible things with percussion,” Shyamalan says. “He would go in and record all night after we finished shooting. At 4 a.m. he would be hitting drums and having a violinist come in and play, and it would echo in the auditorium and in the hallways and he would record it. Those sonic and intellectual and ineffable things make you feel that something in a scene is resonant.”
Through the process of Split and Glass, Thordson and Shyamalan found that they are creative kindred spirits, in a way. “Authenticity is our main objective as filmmakers, and everything you hear in the movie is practically done by West,” Shyamalan says. “It’s created by him, synthesized and moved by him in some way. It’s one man’s tastes helping me tell my story, so you’re getting these very strong, bold moves.”