What we’re NOT going to do is spill the beans on any of “Source Code’s” intriguing plot secrets. What we ARE going to do is clue you in to a couple clever little “Easter eggs” hidden by director Duncan Jones in the film, along with a little 411 on the helmer himself.
All you need to know going in is that “Source Code” features Jake Gyllenhaal in a unique and twisty bit of time-jumping, revisiting eight crucial minutes repeatedly as he frantically tries to avert a major catastrophe. And if that reminds you a tiny bit of a certain time-jumping 80s/90s cult TV show, keep a sharp ear out for a super-subtle vocal cameo from “Quantum Leap” star Scott Bakula.
Jones, who wowed audiences with his first feature “Moon” in 2009, says tapping Bakula to voice an off-camera – but important – character was a “massively” intentional homage to “Quantum Leap.” “In fact, if you pay close attention to the dialogue, we actually managed to slip in there him saying ‘Oh, boy!’” Jones tells PopcornBiz, evoking Bakula’s catchphrase as time-traveler Sam Beckett. “I think the fact that we got away with that is probably the thing I’m most proud of all in this film!”
“When I first read the script, I couldn’t help but think of many, many influences that obviously must have been there when Ben Ripley was writing,” explains Jones, “and there was that moment where Jake sees himself in the mirror – that’s a ‘Quantum Leap’ moment to me. We were working out the voices and it just occurred to us, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if Scott Bakula did that?’ And he’s the right age and the tenor of his voice is definitely a supporting, nurturing voice that he has. We brought him in and he was so lovely and willing to take it seriously, and he got why we wanted to have him do it. It was great, really lovely to have him do it.”
“It’s subtle, and like I said, the “Oh, boy” was the thing that I was not sure about,” laughs Jones. “Would we get away with that? But he did a few versions and I think we got it just right, that it just slips past most people.”
Jones admits to a little self-referencing as well, reusing Chesney Hawke’s one-hit song “The One and Only” in “Source Code” after featuring it in his debut film. “There’s a little nod to ‘Moon’ in the ringtone that Christina [Michelle Monaghan] has. There’s a song that plays, and that’s the same song that Sam Bell’s [Sam Rockwell’s] alarm clock is in ‘Moon.’” And as in “Moon,” there just may be a subtle significance to the song as well.
Pop culture factors significantly in Jones’ life – he’s the son of rock icon David Bowie, and he admits it took him a while to find his own path away from his father’s famous shadow. “He’s always been incredibly supportive," says Jones. "I think it really does help that we work in different areas. It would have been really horrible to try and have a career in music. That would have been difficult. I know other people who’ve tried that – Julian Lennon, who’s John Lennon’s son, did it, and he’s a very, very talented man, but he was always for the whole of his career living in the shadow of his dad. Fortunately my interests were never musical, so I don’t have a musical bone in my body. It really helped me that I was working in a different area, and also there was a decent gap in time between when my father was casting his biggest shadow and when I was releasing my first film. There was enough time there that people were willing to give me the benefit of the doubt and see what it was that I was doing.”
Calling himself “a late bloomer” (Jones pursued a PhD in philosophy before moving behind the camera, first in advertising and then in film), the director says he initially struggled to find his own unique voice. “I think I probably could have let it go if my dad hadn’t said ‘You’ve got to find the passion in your life,’” he says, “which was a gift and a curse, because I completely agreed with him, but it meant that I really had a long hunt to try and get the right thing for me. It’s a real struggle; I know how difficult it is. Some people are very, very lucky and they find the thing that they really want to do early on in life. It took me a long time to come to terms with it and actually go with it.”
Given Bowie’s considerable acting resume (“The Man Who Fell to Earth,” “The Hunger,” “Labyrinth,” “The Last Temptation of Christ” and “The Presitge,” among others), is there any chance father and son might collaborate on screen someday? “Maybe,” muses Jones. “I think I’m not the director that I would want to be to work with my dad. I think if I ever got to the point where I really felt I could be supportive in the way that I want to be to him, I think maybe – but I need more experience before I ever take that on.”