John Madden is a British director best known for “Shakespeare in Love,” which won the 1998 Academy Award for Best Picture. His latest film is “The Debt,” opening in theaters today. The film is a remake of the 2007 Israeli movie “Ha-Hov,” about the Mossad hunt for Nazi doctor Dieter Vogel, aka, the “Surgeon of Birkenau.” (Read the Forward’s review of the film here.) Madden spoke on the phone with The Arty Semite about creating his characters’ moral dilemmas, the perils of adapting Israeli cinema, and the meaning of “the debt.”
Curt Schleier: How did you get involved with “The Debt”?
John Madden: The producers, Matthew Vaughn and Kris Thykier, sent me a script, which was an adaptation that Matthew and Jane Goldman had made of the Israeli film, “Ha-Hov.” The original was made in Hebrew and made very commendable use of a very, very low budget. I thought the material very provocative and very interesting and when I saw it I set about reconstructing the film.
What changes did you make?
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