‘The Image of You’ Interview with Director Jeff Fisher

The Image of You is a deliciously tense psychological thriller from director Jeff Fisher and screenwriter Chris Sivertson, based on a massively popular book by the same name by Adele Parks. The film features a romance gone sideways, along with nail-biting unease. Actress Sasha Pieterse takes on the dual role of identical twins Anna and Zoe in the movie, whose lives are thrown into turmoil by Anna’s whirlwind romance with Nick, played by Parker Young. Zoe is suspicious of her twin’s new beau and starts uncovering secrets that could have deadly consequences. The film also features Nestor Carbonell and Mira Sorvino as the twins’ parents. I recently had the chance to sit down over Zoom with Jeff Fisher to talk about 

Fisher had a unique challenge ahead of him with The Image of You, shooting twins played by one actress, Sasha Pieterse, so I was really excited to get all the details about how it came together so seamlessly. Fisher also shared some of the film’s visual influences, including Basic Instinct, and talked about getting Nestor Carbonell, Mira Sorvino, and Parker Young on board. And yes, Adele Parks fans, Fisher even shared some insight into the ending. Read on for the full interview. 

The Interview with The Image of You director Jeff Fisher

[Editor’s note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.]

Ayla Ruby: Okay, awesome. I’m very excited to talk. Hi.

Jeff Fisher: Hi. Great to meet you. How are you?

Ayla Ruby: Good. It’s great to meet you too. So I’m going to just jump right into it. I’d love to talk a little bit about how you got into this project. I think I talked to… Well I talked to Adele Parks, the other day, and I think she said you were on it first.

Jeff Fisher: Yeah. I had a friend that was over at Paramount that had introduced me to the material, and then I had a pre-existing relationship with a production company. They actually were the sales agent and kind of distributor on my first feature back in 2008. So I had already known them a little bit and read the script and just thought Chris Sivertson, did such a great job adapting the book, so was excited to be part of it.

On why Jeff Fisher loved this story

Ayla Ruby: So you mentioned the script, you mentioned what a great job he did, adapting it from the book. What did you love about it? Why did this story speak to you besides how cool and twisty it is?

Jeff Fisher: Yeah, it’s such a great question. It reminded me of those nineties thrillers that I grew up loving like Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction, and I thought it had all kinds of cool throwbacks to film noir movies of the forties. And I love movies in general. So the idea to be able to try to work in that space was really exciting and exciting challenge to try to figure out how to shoot twins too. That was something I needed to research and make sure we were prepared for.

On how The Image of You showcases Sasha Pieterse’s dual performance

Ayla Ruby: I have a lot of questions about that because obviously you have one actress, you have Sasha, but there are numerous times where both twins are on-screen and all of this. How did you approach that? How do you even approach something like that?

Jeff Fisher: Yeah, it was really interesting. So I don’t know… Literally I grew up knowing about The Parent Trap and split screen stuff where you use a piece of foreground or background to split the screen. And with… Gosh, the evolution of after Dead Ringers, or even something like Us, where you have people crossing and it’s much more elegant in the way it’s executed. So really finding out, “Okay, knowing what our budget is, where can we spend a little bit of money for promotion control so we sell that idea?”

Jeff Fisher: And besides Sasha being amazing, we had a double, ironically her name was Malia, so we had Sasha and Malia. So that would match for over the shoulder stuff to kind of build that conceit. And then we used a motion control camera to try to execute some of the crosses and some of the special effects. Which again, hats off to Sasha and the rest of our great crew because literally if Sasha had to hit the kitchen island at 10 seconds, she had to hit the couch at 24 seconds and it was lots of fingers crossed and oh… But we pulled it off. So it was a team effort.

On highlighting the differences between the twins Sasha Pieterse plays

Ayla Ruby: Now, each twin obviously has their own personality, has their own thing. Was there anything special for each character that you did to bring out who they were?

Jeff Fisher: Another great question. We really talked about working with even a movement coach and watching different film flips of different kind of archetypes of these characters. And Sasha… Luckily Sasha and I, we were really aligned in the differences between those characters and had fun making Zoe a little more dangerous, I don’t know, a little more of a troublemaker and obviously sweeter in her demeanor.

Jeff Fisher: So we just leaned into it and had fun and obviously they dressed with a different wardrobe, hair, makeup, everybody kind of pitched in to help us delineate those two different characters.

On how Nestor Carbonell, Mira Sorvino, and Parker Young came onboard

Ayla Ruby: Now, we’ve talked a lot about Sasha, but you have amazing other actors and actresses in this movie. You have Nestor Carbonell and Mira Sorvino, like you have just amazing people. How did you find these people? How did you get them to say, “Yes, I want this?” Besides the amazing script and story.

Jeff Fisher: Yeah, I’m so grateful to have him. Nestor is so lucky. Nestor was in my first short film back in… I don’t even know, ages. Quite a while ago. And he was in my first feature and he’s always, besides being so talented, he’s just such a great, great guy. And Parker [Young], I was lucky enough to make a movie with… in 2014, and I loved Parker and when I read the script, literally I knew Parker would knock Nick, out of the park. I would be so lucky to get Nestor to play David and so grateful that it happened to just love working with him.

Jeff Fisher: And then Mira was like… when she read the script and was interested in talking to me, I was thrilled. Like everybody, she’s such a… coming from that Hollywood lineage and just Mighty Aphrodite, and Romy and Michelle , and I was just so excited to talk to her. And then when she actually wanted to do the movie, I was over the moon. And then just little guest parts like Rebekah Graf, Michelle Nodin, we had all worked together before, so getting them back on set just made me so happy.

On maintaining tension throughout The Image of You

Ayla Ruby: Oh, that’s awesome. So the story builds up to a very surprising ending that I won’t spoil, but how do you maintain that tension through the story? Because it was very, very tense and you mentioned Basic Instinct earlier and I wanted to go back and find all the references and influences. I know I’m missing so many and it is very tense.

Jeff Fisher: No, thanks. When I was a kid, I had older brothers and sisters and I think I read some review of Brian De Palma’s Dressed to Kill, and I think I literally annoyed them until they took me to see it. I was like 12, I wouldn’t take a shower or go in an elevator for a year. And obviously Brian De Palma got a lot of influence from Alfred Hitchcock. And going back and looking about how those great filmmakers used the camera and score and everything to create suspense.

Jeff Fisher: I’m like, “Okay, I’m going to try to steal from the best.” So going back and just re-watching all of those movies, talking to Sasha and Parker and Nestor and Mira about them and just putting our heads together to find those moments that hopefully would take the audience on a fun ride, was our goal.

On that pivotal scene in David’s office with Parker Young and Nestor Carbonell

Ayla Ruby: I think it worked. So besides twins, when you’ve got one person, was there anything really challenging or professionally gratifying that you were able to do with this film or just kind of pull off? You can look back and say, “Wow.”

Jeff Fisher: I adore those actors. We had a great cast and crew. I remember reading the script and thinking, “Wow, if I got Parker and Nestor in.” There’s a scene in David’s office that takes place. I’m like, “Wow, if I could get those two to… I know that they would kill this scene.” And to actually be in there shooting it with them and watching them just over deliver and do it, it just made it just me so happy just because like I said, I love those guys personally and professionally and it was so fun to see that come to life on screen. It was great.

On takeaways from The Image of You, including the ending

Ayla Ruby: It sounds like it was a lot of fun and I think that comes through when you’re watching it. We’re almost at time, but is there anything you want people to know about this or you want people to take away from the film?

Jeff Fisher: I know Adele [Parks] has so many fans of the books and all of her books, and I think it is going to be a slightly different ride from the book.

Ayla Ruby: The ending is different.

Jeff Fisher: The ending is different. It takes a different turn, but I hope they enjoy it. Honestly, my goal, I know that the story’s crazy, but we watched people have fun. There’s so much crazy stuff going on in the world right now. And for me, movies have always been a great escape and a way to just check into this hyper realized world. And I hope people just go along for the ride and feel like they’ve had a good diversion after these 90 minutes. That’d be my goal.

Ayla Ruby: That’s a great sentiment. Thank you very much. I really appreciate it.

Jeff Fisher: Yeah. No, it was great to talk to you. So nice to meet you.

Jeff Fisher picture courtesy of Darrell Thomas.

The Image of You is now playing in select theaters and is also available to buy on digital.

You can learn more about Jeff Fisher and his directing career at his website.

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