Director Neil Burger Talks "Limitless," NZT, and More
Fri, 01 Apr 2011 16:19:00
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Director Neil Burger takes audiences on a wild joy ride in his new techno-thriller, Limitless.
With a smartly written screenplay by Leslie Dixon—itself an adaptation of Alan Glynn’s 2001 novel, The Dark Fields—Burger explores the propulsive journey of Eddie Morra as he discovers the illegal and extremely powerful new drug, NZT-48. The exciting sci-fi thriller opened at #1 earning over $18 million and has since grossed over $46 million at the box office.
Summing up his feelings on such a successful opening, Burger exclaims, "It's pretty great actually! You work three years putting a project together with its many stops and starts, watching it fall apart and come back together, and it's a 24/7 adrenaline rush. You just hope it works, and it's a fantastic feeling when it does well."
Limitless works so well due in large part to the phenomenal performances of its three lead actors: Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, and Abbie Cornish. Cooper plays Eddie Morra, a disheveled and down-on-his-luck New York City writer dealing with crippling writer's block and the heartache of being dumped by his beautiful and successful girlfriend, Lindy (Cornish). When he happens upon his former brother-in-law, Vernon Grant (Johnny Whitworth), the answer to his woes is presented to him in the form of a pill that is sure to change his life.
As Morra’s intelligence, clarity, perception, energy, and focus all vastly improve, he soars to unbelievable heights, finding himself in the employ of powerful businessman, Carl Von Loon (De Niro). Then things get interesting as the drug gets dangerous…
When asked exactly what it is about the drug that resonates so intensely with audiences, Burger says, “I think there is the question of what if there was a pill that could make you rich and powerful? Everybody wants to be a better – or even perfect – version of themselves.” He goes on to say that NZT could even allow people to become someone entirely different. When asked what he might do if he had NZT, Burger replies with, “I would probably do what Eddie does and run for office, be in politics.” Burger laughs as he shares the reaction a few of his friends had to that same thought: “’But, you don’t have to be smart to run for office!’”
According to Burger, it is definitely not just about the money for Eddie. “To get a seat at the table, you have to have money. You can do big things, but you need the money to get there. Eddie even says that he can be the President of the United States.” Burger then poses, “Do the means justify the end? Well, that is really subject to interpretation.”
Like Limitless itself, Burger raises many more questions than he answers. “Is it worth the risk? Would you do it?” he asks, strongly believing that drugs like NZT-- steroids for the brain as he calls them-- will be available to us soon. “It’s not a question of can, but when, and many ethical questions are raised when the subject comes up,” he adds.
Making a #1 film is a challenging feat, but Burger seems up to the task and ready to start again even if he doesn't pop an NZT.
Would you take NZT?