News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by A Martínez
Airs Weekdays 2 to 3 p.m.

'San Andreas' writer Carlton Cuse on taking some liberties with seismic realities

Dwayne Johnson as Ray and Carla Gugino as Emma in the film
Dwayne Johnson as Ray and Carla Gugino as Emma in the film "San Andreas," a production of New Line Cinema and Village Roadshow Pictures, released by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Jasin Boland
Dwayne Johnson as Ray and Carla Gugino as Emma in the film
Writer Carlton Cuse attends the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' "San Andreas" at the TCL Chinese Theatre on May 26, 2015 in Hollywood, California.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Listen to story

Download this story 25MB

The new film "San Andreas" explores what might happen if California experienced the largest magnitude earthquake in recorded history. 

A seismic swarm along a previously undetected fault near Nevada's Hoover Dam crosses the border to trigger a massive jolt which hits L.A. hard. But it doesn't stop there— the seismic activity triggers a massive tsunami in San Francisco. 

The film's screenwriter, Carlton Cuse, is no stranger to over-the-top stories. He was one of the show runners on the ABC hit "Lost." He joined Take Two for an interview about the film.


On his own experience with the 1994 Northridge earthquake 

"It had a big impact on me in terms of writing this movie... It was very early in the morning when the earthquake went off, I remember by wife running to my daughter's room and she was yelling, 'Caroline!' She couldn't find my daughter, she'd been shaken out of bed... a bookcase had come down, she finally found her on the floor. I mean it was really terrifying... So I sort of carried that with me emotionally as I was writing the screenplay."

On balancing believability and accuracy with really just wanting to thrill people 

"It's a popcorn movie, and intentionally so. And movies are meant to be metaphoric. It's not a documentary about earthquakes... Yes, the movie's wildly exaggerated, but there have also been absolutely terrifying earthquakes. There was an earthquake in Chile in 1960 that leveled the city of Hilo, Hawaii, with a tsunami 8,000 miles away.

So, you know, it's like the movie 'Jaws.' Yes, there are giant great white sharks, but there aren't many that actually tear boats apart and are killed with exploding scuba tanks either."

On what it is that gets people excited about disaster films

"We live relatively mild lives compared to our prehistoric ancestors, and I think movies are sort of metaphoric journeys. We kind of want to go to hell and back and see if we survive, and a good movie will take you on that kind of a ride. You want to sort of have the kind of thrills and chills of danger, but obviously in a safe environment."

On how writing a move like this differs from writing a TV show

"I really work in television, so writing this movie was incredibly liberating because, you know, [with] television you have constraints on what you can actually execute. In this movie there were no constraints. This movie takes visual effects I think to a brand new place. There are things that are done in this movie— a combination of practical and visual effects— that are brand new, and I think pretty jaw-dropping."

To hear the full interview with Carlton Cuse, click the link above.