The 13-story art deco structure lost its cachet with the travelling public long ago, but thanks to funding from Malibu mobster The Wolfking (Jeff Goldblum, Thor: Ragnarok), the hotel’s worn exterior cloaks a state-of-the-art hospital on the penthouse level. This is a members-only E.R. exclusive to one group – criminals. Dues are paid in advance, and all house rules must be followed.
A no-nonsense woman everyone calls The Nurse (Academy Award® winner Jodie Foster) has run the place for 22 years. Assisted by her loyal orderly Everest (Dave Bautista, Guardians of the Galaxy), The Nurse is a high-tech healer who can handle almost anything – except the outside world.
But she has an ever-present distraction… the Artemis. And tonight’s especially busy. By the time Sherman and Lev arrive, The Nurse has already checked in a sultry French assassin (Sofia Boutella, The Mummy) and a narcissistic arms dealer (Charlie Day, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia). She hears that the owner, The Wolfking himself (Goldblum), and his volatile son Crosby (Zachary Quinto , Star Trek) are on their way to the hospital. Plus, there’s an injured cop, Morgan Daniels (Jenny Slate, Obvious Child), out back begging for the Nurse to take her in. But Morgan’s arrival not only forces The Nurse to break her own rules… she must confront everything she’s worked so hard to avoid for 22 years. All while, in her words, “the night goes to hell in a handcart full of blood and sh*t”.
L.A. mystique ….
Back in the 1920’s, penthouse suites at the fictitious Hotel Artemis were named after popular vacation spots. A century later, all guests are codenamed using the names of those suites, reflecting the Artemis’s commitment to anonymity, along with its state-of-the-art emergency care.
So Sherman becomes “Waikiki” when he checks in, while his brother Lev is dubbed “Honolulu”. The French femme fatale is called “Nice”, the arms dealer is “Acapulco”, and The Wolfking, who’s true name is Orian Franklin, is “Niagara”. To enter, members must identify themselves with a chip implanted in their wrists. No exceptions are granted, as the bleeding bank robber Buke (Kenneth Choi) learns to his dismay.
Writer-director Drew Pearce imagined the specifics of this near-future world in great detail, and its roots lie in his fascination with the city of Los Angeles.
“I’m originally from Scotland, and lived in England most of my life,” said Pearce. “After our first extended stay in L. A. (on Iron Man 3), my wife and I knew we wanted to move here permanently. We took the leap, packed everything we had in a container, and got on a plane. We’ve been here close to seven years and have never looked back.”
Coming of age in an old European city influenced Pearce’s experience of L.A. “I love that the short history of the city, compared to London’s, makes its history more accessible. In the Artemis, you can see a hundred years of life in one building, and the layering of that history is physically visible all at once – just like the city itself.”
“Los Angeles has a distinct personality,” he continued. “Someone once called it a city of doorways, because unlike the East Coast or Europe, you have no idea what the inside of a place will be, based on its exterior aesthetic. The fanciest restaurant might sit behind a door in a rundown strip mall, and there’s something exciting about that to me. It’s reflected in the Artemis, which is definitely a movie of doors.”
Or as producer Adam Siegel described it, “a world we look at through a keyhole.”
Jodie Foster liked the feeling Pearce evokes. “I grew up here,” noted the Academy Award®-winning actress, who began her career at the age of three. “There’s a nostalgia about Los Angeles in Hotel Artemis that I share with Drew. The film has an emotional love for the city – as a land of opportunity, lawlessness and rich cinema history. Drew has created something so original, so disarmingly visual that you see Los Angeles with an entirely new lens. The film has a thriller aspect,” she suggests, “but it inhabits its own world. It’s genre-bending.”
Sterling K. Brown, who plays Waikiki, agrees. “It’s simultaneously noir and futuristic; funny, but with pathos. We’re in an interesting environment that reveals not all criminals are created equal.”
Many agendas are in play at the Hotel Artemis, and some overlap. “The stories thread together, and also tangle,” said producer Simon Cornwell.
““Secrets are revealed, and scores are settled,” added his brother and fellow producer, Stephen Cornwell. “Not everyone can get what they want.”
Whatever the details of their situations, the film’s criminals have one thing in common. Says Brown: “We gotta get in, get off the grid, get away from law enforcement, and then get out.”
The tightly paced story unfolds in one out-of-control night, but Pearce took his time crafting the tale. Actively seeking to direct his own work, he carefully weighed which of his ideas would be the one to make that happen.
“This idea refused to leave me, and hit all my sweet spots,” he now reflects. “There’s crime, there’s sci-fi, and there’s the chance to do something visually stunning baked into the DNA of it. Plus, there’s the simple hope to make a movie that does justice to the city I now live in – Los Angeles.
“At the time I committed to it, I promised myself I’d write the purest version of the idea, which meant it would be an indie, rather than a studio film,” he revealed. “There’s not a day that I regretted that decision. I’m proud of the process and the people who have jumped on board with the same attitude.
“I wanted it to be a melting pot of ideas and themes – always laser-focused, but with as much depth as possible, like the best crime and near-future sci-fi I grew up with.”
The Hotel Artemis will be showing at a cinema near you soon.