Keanu Reeves and the Scramble Suit

Posted on July 5, 2006

Keanu Reeves' upcoming film, A Scanner Darkly, is an adaptation of the Philip K. Dick novel. In the futuristic story, the lead character wears a "Scramble Suit" a kinetic protective garment worn by undercover drug cops. But bringing the suit to the silver screen wasn't an easy job.

"The Scramble Suit was a big challenge," said director Richard Linklater, who also adapted the story for the film. "There's a lengthy description of it [in the book], but it's also vague. It's a bit of a blur of multi-personalities. We spent months coming up with a design for it."

The outcome is a mask that generates an array of human faces of every age and race, which is worn by Reeves' character, Bob Arctor. Arctor is a secret agent trying to uncover a drug ring. The Scramble Suit is accomplished by using animation over live footage. Linklater used the technique for the entire movie, much as he did in his 2001 film Waking Life. "No one face ever shows up in total at one time," the director said of the Scramble Suit. Author Dick's likeness is one of the faces that pop through the hundreds of animated characters that make up the suit.

Producer Tommy Pallotta said that he had to keep a watchful eye on the animation team while they were drawing the many characters for the suit. "They drew people they knew-friends, and stuff like that-but they began adding different characters from other science fiction stories, nerdy stuff, and they would have jumped out too much if I let [it go] through," Pallotta said.

The trailers are already out for the film, and it looks quite interesting. They shot the film in live action, then drew animation over the print to give a distinctive look -- like a comic book come alive. The film opens this Friday, July 7th, and also stars Robert Downey Jr. and Winona Ryder.

More from Writers Write