Push inspired by a weird life. And frustration with time travel

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST
Djimon Hounsou (left) and Camilla Belle star in Push.

Once screenwriter David Bourla gave up on writing an original time-travel movie, the idea for Push was born out of his love of sci-fi and his own weirder-than-fiction life experiences, he told reporters.

"Originally I had written a bunch of time-travel movies," Bourla said in a group interview last weekend in Los Angeles. "I got pegged for doing these low-budget time-travel movies, and then I even directed one. After a while, I got very frustrated. You're inventing rules, and anyone can say, 'That rule doesn't work.'"

Bourla left Hollywood and headed back home to Manhattan. "I was dating a girl from Coney Island, and there was a very weird thing where I wasn't really sure that she was who she said she was at a certain point," Bourla said, before stopping himself from going further. "You know, I can't even go into it," he said with a laugh.

That incident provided the first kernel of what would eventually become Push, the story of a group of telekinetic, clairvoyant and telepathic characters who have escaped a secret department of the CIA known as Division.

"I certainly have a fascination for sci-fi and fantasy," Bourla said. "For me, it was about the what-if scenario of these governments who've been doing experiments since the '20s and '30s to create psychic espionage. If they'd been doing this for all these years, they had to have done something that wasn't a total flop. Just like we were racing to the moon, everybody was searching for the thing that would help their government get an edge on the other government."

Bourla wanted to create a story in which his character's abilities were a curse rather than a gift. "I always felt that if I had psychic powers I would do my best to hide them as opposed to putting on a cape and flying around and announcing myself," he said.

"Like Blade Runner, you have a god-vs.-man thematic," Bourla adds. "These people who are essentially created to become these agents, and whenever they try to get away they have to be hunted down and controlled because they carry government secrets and they are powerful."

Although the end product has some major changes from the first version of the script Bourla wrote, he says he's very happy with the end product. "I have 28 drafts of the screenplay," he said. "I could write a TV series with the amount of [drafts]. I have a stack of different versions."

"It's an organic, collaborative process, and I was very happy with the [end] result," he added.

Without revealing too much, the ending of Push clearly leaves room for a sequel. We asked Bourla about how intentional that was and whether he had plans in place. "I'm embarrassed at how shameless [the ending] is," he said, laughing. "I've written [the sequel]. It will be Push Harder." Bourla was joking. We think. Push, starring Dakota Fanning and Chris Evans, opens Feb. 6.