Interview: Alex Kurtzman Talks ‘People Like Us’

Alex Kurtzman and Chris Pine were recently in Atlanta to support this weekend’s release of People Like Us, a unique drama/comedy about family. In the film, Sam (Chris Pine) is tasked with delivering $150,000 of his deceased father’s fortune to the sister (Elizabeth Banks) – who he has never met. The movie is actually based on true events. It’s the film director, Alex Kurtzman, whose journey of meeting his sister inspired the film.

Check out our interview with director Alex Kurtzman below!

How does your creative process differ when writing a movie like this – that is more emotionally intense and personal than your other projects which are more action driven?

Alex Kurtzman: Bob (Roberto Orci) and I always try really hard to find the personal component to whatever it is that we’re writing. But the process with this film was so different. First of all, it took eight years, and that is very rare for us.

We were writing this for ourselves. We weren’t writing this for money or anything other than our own love. And it was a very cathartic process. It was a hard process, because it was wrong a lot longer than it was right. Some of it was separating truth or fiction in terms of my own life, but it was also a complicated story filled with complicated characters that make tough choices.

I think I felt so instinctively that in order for it to really work, you needed to feel that you were discovering another layer about every character in every scene. That’s not always the case when you’re writing a big action movie. You don’t always have room for that. But because we couldn’t cut to a spaceship or a big explosion or a robot – every scene had to fire. Every scene had to be there for a reason. I loved living in it. It was like nourishment. Between the big movies, to live just a straight character story with complicated people – I just fell in love with their characters.

How did your family react to the film?

Alex Kurtzman: I wanted to be respectful. I have a very supportive family. There’s just a lot of support. I think everyone felt proud. I felt a huge responsibility to make sure that I was honoring them in the right way.

In doing the press and these screenings like last night, have you encountered anyone that has had a similar experience to yours or to the film’s?

Alex Kurtzman: Quite a few. We both have. Just last night, as we were being whisked out of the screening, a woman grabbed my arm and said, ‘I just want you to know that I had a brother that I never knew about, and I never wanted to meet him until your movie.’

It was pretty amazing… To be able to start a dialogue like that, for people to feel validated. My hope was always that you’d see the movie and be forced to think about ‘What’s your family about? What is my relationship to my family about? Have I been a good mother, father, brother or sister? ’ Because as complicated as families are, as flawed as they are – they make us who we are.

People Like Us is in theaters today!


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