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Office Hours: F. Gary Gray on the Key to Pulling Off a Successful Heist (Film)

Updated: Mar 4


The director of Set It Off and The Italian Job reveals how to steal viewers’ hearts

One of the biggest things is who is committing the heist—and do you care about them? If you're invested and you fall in love with the characters, it's very easy to keep that audience on the edge of their seats. My job is to make sure you care about the people, because they're committing crimes, so they're already starting off on a certain foot. Do you like or admire these people? Could you see yourself in a [similar] situation? If you don't see yourself or your friends or your family in these characters, it's a tough sell.

People don't care about the stakes if they don't care about the people. You can put any level of stakes in a storyline, but if you don't care if the character goes one way or the other, whether they live or die, if they're free or imprisoned, it's not going to matter much. Maybe it's a formula, but it's a formula that works. If you have the ability to work with really creative, talented people, it's icing on the cake.

F. Gary Gray targets his latest mark via Lift, which stars Kevin Hart and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. It’s now streaming on Netflix.


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