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Exclusive: Interview With ‘The Mandela Effect’s’ David Guy Levy & Robin Lord Taylor

I had the awesome pleasure today of speaking with the writer/director and cast of The Mandela Effect, releasing in theaters and VOD this Friday, December 6. As I said in my review earlier this week, after being treated to a private screening I was extremely impressed with this film and of course I was excited to get to speak with everyone.

If you haven’t already done so, pre-order your VOD copy today. It has additional features of photos and a director commentary that I can’t wait to check out myself. Reserve a copy and let’s get this movie’s rank rising!

**Note** Don’t worry, I’ve marked the article with a break below before revealing any Spoilers. So continue reading with peace of mind.

Now, first on deck, I met with writer/director David Guy Levy and Robin Lord Taylor, who plays the brother/brother-in-law that is completely skeptical of the Mandela Effect from the onset. While I was a bit star-struck (I’m a huge fan of Robin’s portrayal of a young Penguin on Gotham) and I really wanted to ask both gentlemen a ton more questions, these things are held to strict time limits, so let’s get to the questions.

I think you’re going to really enjoy some of these answers.

Bringing It All Together 

Of course, having seen the movie and expecting that many of my readers already know what the Mandela Effect is, I wasn’t going to waste any time asking about the specifics of the plot or who each character is. I wanted to know the “inside” sort of stuff. 

David started off by immediately revealing that he’d read my review of the movie and that he “loved it.” I have to say, that was definitely a pleasant surprise.

I advised the pair that I naturally had a lot of questions for David but that I had plenty for Robin as well, and we were off. 

{be advised, this is not a verbatim transcript and liberties have been taken to make the article flow more smoothly. While nothing has been added to the interview, there was bits and pieces removed here and there}

Me: Did you enjoy the Austin premiere?

Robin: “I loved it, it was the first time I’d seen the movie also. It was doubly special in that way. I love going to Austin, I have family in Austin and friends that have all moved down there. So, I had family members in the audience and some people I hadn’t seen since I was in college. But beyond that, being able to be in the room with people watching this film and feel how they’re feeling and just seeing everyone enjoy the film was so heartwarming.”

Me: David, I know that you worked with Steffen [Schlachtenhaufen], Charlie, and Robin in your film Would You Rather, did you have Charlie and Robin in mind when you and Steffen were writing this?

David: “Most definitely. Charlie has a quality to him that I thought I saw in the character I was developing for Brendan and we thought early on that he would be great. The role of Matt was a counterpoint to him and I always thought it would be great to work with Robin. We didn’t know how realistic that would be because he was shooting Gotham, but we wrote it hoping it would be him and we made it work. You know, when you’ve worked with people and you know what they can do and you know what tools you’ll have, you can really just open up the story from there.” 

Me: What gave you the story idea and how long did it take you to hash out the final script?

David: “I was probably presented with the Mandela Effect as a phenomenon in 2016 at a lunch. I was just immediately fascinated with what it was and finding more examples of it and, you know, sort of being blown away by the examples I knew about and just kind of scrolling past stuff I would never know about. Like, I’ve never read the Bible or been very good at geography, so I always sort of scrolled past that stuff. Even though there’s one or two examples in there that I’d be aware of, but with the pop culture stuff definitely, because I was always a film guy and a consumer of pop culture, so a lot of those examples I was leaning a lot more towards.”

“Then, I was also very interested in the simulation hypothesis, and so when I heard about the Mandela Effect, I was reading ‘The Hypothesis’ by Nick Bostrom at the time and I was immediately like ‘well these things are connected’ and then over the next few months I worked with my writing partner, Steffen Schlachtenhaufen, to sort of come up with the best way to approach a story that covered that material.” So, it took us about 6-months to write it and we tried to produce it as quickly as we could after that.”

Personal Experience

Me: You’ve got so much incorporated from the Mandela Effect, you know, little tidbits, Easter eggs, the stuff that people consider “main” Effects, what was your research process on this? Did you just hound through the websites, were you on social media?

David: “It was the same as Brendan’s. A lot of what Brendan was doing was what I was doing. Just trying to go down, you know, dozens of pages deep into Google and see what people who were already aware of the phenomenon were saying and provide examples of. Then what different factions of theories people sort of gravitated towards and I was immediately sort of gravitating towards the simulation connection.”

Me: Robin, had you experienced or heard of the Mandela Effect before taking on this part?

Robin: “No, I had not. I only heard about it when David was talking about this new project he was working on and again, much like Brendan does in the movie, I went to the computer and did the deep dive. It really opened my mind and it was really cool to research this knowing that we’re going to make it into a film.”

Me: You play the solid skeptic, dismissive from the word go, what is your real opinion on what the Mandela Effect actually is?

Robin: “What I love about the idea of the Mandela Effect and also some of the ideas that we talk about in the film such as simulation hypothesis is the fact that you can’t prove it’s not real and that’s so exciting. Like all good philosophy, you can’t say that it’s not really happening and that’s so exciting. I like to keep my mind open. There’s definitely some Mandela Effects that really I find chilling and again, I love the possibilities of what is making up our current reality I just think are so exciting.”

Me: Well, give me an example. Which Effects did you find “chilling,” or which one did you find the most chilling?

Robin: “The one that I find the most chilling over and over is the Star Wars, “Luke, I am your Father.” That’s so mind blowing to me because we’re not talking about, you know, something that people may not have heard of. This isn’t niche. You know, this is possibly the most popular movie in human history and the fact that millions and millions of people, including myself, at one of the most powerful moments in the movie, are completely getting it wrong. I find that totally mind blowing. Again, the fact that something so popular, that people have seen over and over, myself included, over and over and over again and still, you know, completely remembering it ‘alternatively.’

Me: Same question for you David. Which Mandela Effect really got your attention or chilled you?

David: “There’s been a few. I’ve told people about Berenstein Bears being one that really hooked me, and Monopoly Man, but there are some that are really shocking to me. Like Cliff Notes. I held onto Cliff Notes like a lot of people hold onto the Bible. It was something I got through High School with. So when I heard it was CliffsNotes, I just refused to accept that. Another one is the Sinbad Genie movie. I had visions in my head of that existing and when someone told me it never actually existed, I was completely, just sort of taken aback by that knowledge. Cliff Notes and Sinbad Genie movie are probably the strongest ones. Berenstein Bears was super strong because I grew up reading those books. I grew up playing Monopoly and imitating the Monopoly Man with the monocle with my friends. And you know, playing Star Wars with my friends and saying “Luke, I’m your Father” was something we did. So, when you find out Darth never said that and even James Earl Jones remembers it that way.

 Me: Do you think that simulation hypothesis is the most plausible answer for the Mandela Effect?

David: “I don’t think that is has to be one or the other. I gravitate towards it because it makes the most sense to me and I made this movie, I’ve been working on it for a few years now, and I have no way to say that we’re not. And so that’s what the most compelling thing to me is like, I don’t have proof that we’re not living in a simulation. So, I think it’s the most powerful for that reason. Also, if it is parallel worlds, I haven’t heard a good hypothesis of what the cause might be. I’ve heard strong belief that it might be universes fusing together and CERN might be involved. However, that’s just a really loose idea without a good hypothesis that I have found in conversations. When I see the simulation hypothesis and all the real thought blossoming that has been put towards it, I immediately look just towards that because it makes sense to me.”

The Ending (don’t worry, no spoilers yet)

Me: I was extremely worried about how this movie was going to end and…

David: “A lot of people were. I mean like, I wasn’t aware of how sensitive people would be to this film existing. There was definitely conversations I came across online where people were like “I hope this doesn’t make us look crazy, “I hope it doesn’t gaslight the issue” and I was pleased when people finally started watching it recently that they felt maybe that it didn’t.”

Me: Did you have any ideas for a different ending?

David: “No, I always knew I wanted it to end in this way because I wasn’t trying to make a movie about a guy attaching himself to ideas that were going to be needed to move away from. I want it to be a movie that lets people say “Let’s not be afraid of exploring ideas, even if we don’t know if the answers are crazy or not. Let’s explore them.” And I wanted to sort of support that message.”

Me: Were there any aspects or scenes that didn’t make it into the movie that you really wanted to but just didn’t ?

David: “Yeah there was one scene where they were driving and singing “We are the Champions” to Queen and at the end, Brendan goes “…of the world” and no one else does. It was a little moment that I liked but it did not fit in the cut. It clunked everything down and I had to take it out.”

Prior Experience

Me: Robin, before this, had you ever experienced anything that you couldn’t explain or that made you question the paranormal or reality itself?

Robin: “Oh yeah, sure I have. From my childhood I have a very distinct memory of going to some sort of doctor’s office and getting some sort of inoculation. It sounds so crazy. I don’t know if it was a dream, but I remember that it happened twice and having talked to my family and having described the situation, I remember my older sister took me to this thing. It never, ever happened. So, I don’t know if I dreamt this, but it is this memory that I have that is as clear as anything that has actually happened to me. Any other memory I have, but talking to everyone in my family, this occurrence never happened at all.”

David: “That reminds me of this memory I have of watching Ghostbusters as a kid. I have this memory of her going to her fridge and opening it up and inside, there’s one of the little dog creatures like riding a motorcycle and waving. [Robin laughs] And I swear, that scene was in the movie but like no one else believes.”

Robin: “It feels real. Like it feels like, like yeah again, I feel like I can smell where I was and again, it never happened.

Me: Robin, do you think it’s possible then that we’re living in a simulation?

Robin: “I think it’s entirely possible. You know, if you think philosophically about life, and I always go back to this idea that I’ve always kicked around in my head that there’s no such thing as being non-objective. Everything that I’m experiencing is through my eyes. It’s very possible that I invented you, that I invented David, that I invented this entire reality and you all don’t exist. Like, you only exist within my mind.”

David: “Occam’s Razor, what’s more believable? That, um, that happened, or that you are the star of Gotham?”

[everyone laughs]

Robin: Yeah, totally. Exactly. Whose to say?

Me: Right?

Me: Touching on the observation theory, David, did you have any plans or had you researched the ‘Double-slit experiment?’

[agent came on the line to advise me that this would be the last question]

David: The double-slit experiment is a huge part of my research for this movie and while it wasn’t sort of said out loud or included in the explanation of what he was doing, my own research and my own journey brought me to the double-slit experiment many times. Quantum entanglement is a big part of what I’ve looked into and the answers I’m trying to find myself. So like, Schrödinger’s cat, double-slit experiment… there is maybe one or two graphics of a laser beam on a computer screen going through the double-slit, but I believe that is definitely a part of it all, you know.”

If you don’t want the chance of spoilers, don’t scroll below the trailer. My final question for David reveals a little about the ending. Check back tomorrow to read the interview with Brendan (Charlie Hofheimer) and Claire (Aleksa Palladino), as they’ll reveal their thoughts and experiences with the Mandela Effect and how working on this movie changed some of their perceptions on the world.

Me: I know we’ve gotta wrap, so just one last quick question. David, any thoughts on a sequel?

David: “If there’s a sequel, it would have to be the same cast starting over again I think. From the same point. Because then it’s about determinism or free will and if it does reset, what do you do with that?”

Check back tomorrow to see what Aleksa and Charlie have to say about a sequel.

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