TIME Music

How Death Cab for Cutie Did Things Differently for Their New Album Kintsugi

The band tells TIME about the inspirations for their new album, out March 31

Rarely does word of a band’s new album inspire such conflicted feelings among loyal listeners. Last summer, Death Cab for Cutie die-hards were thrilled to find out the band was putting the finishes on their eighth studio album—but they were heartbroken to learn the album would also be the last with founding member Chris Walla, who was leaving the band after 17 years.

Instead of distancing themselves from his departure, however, the remaining members—frontman Ben Gibbard, bassist Nick Harmer and drummer Jason McGuerr—made it part of the album’s story. The band named the album Kintsugi, a Japanese ceramic repair technique that finds beauty in the object’s cracks and flaws by filling them with gold and silver. “When Chris left the band we saw it more as an opportunity than as a breakage,” frontman Ben Gibbard tells TIME about Kintsugi, out March 31. “Right now we all see this as a really exciting time for us: we have a new record we’ll be proud of, we get to go out in the world and play these songs we’re really proud of, and we’ll figure out what the next step is when we come to it.”

On bringing in an outside producer for the first time: “It was something that we were all really excited about doing,” Gibbard says. “All of us have certain tropes that we tend to remain comfortable in, things that we gravitate towards. Bringing in [Rich Costey] to cut through what we were comfortable with—like, ‘No, you guys always do it like this, but we need to try something new here’—was really inspiring. This record would absolutely not be the record it is if we had done things the way we’d historically done them.”

On loving music the way you did in high school: “I think it’s absolutely possible to continue to have, as you get older, those really intense relationships with records—it just happens less frequently,” he says. “When I was 16 years old, music was everything in my life, and everything I heard was brand new. Now I’m 38. I’ve heard a lot of music. But there are still these moments where these records come along that just come out of nowhere and blow my mind. It doesn’t happen as often as it once did, but it still happens. You can’t have your mind blown every time you put a record on.”

On drawing lyrical inspiration from Los Angeles: “Los Angeles obviously is a hotbed of character study,” Gibbard says of the new songs, many of which appear to address his divorce from actress Zooey Deschanel. “The swath of people that you run into is fairly wide and interesting. A lot of these songs on the record were inspired by people that I came across in my time living there. It’s a really interesting place. There are some things I love about it, but I don’t think I would ever go back—no, I would never move back.”

On aging as a band: “We all feel very fortunate that these records that we made now some 10-15 years ago, people still care about them,” he says. “That is one thing that is fairly rare these days. There’s so much music coming at you all the time. You have access on streaming services to every record almost ever made. Every day there are websites that are updating with 10 new exciting bands that you should check out. The fact that we have made some albums that now at this point people are still asking us to play feels really good.”

TIME Music

Why Marina and the Diamonds Wrote a Song About Rape Culture on Her New Album

The singer talks to TIME about her song "Savages," her new album Froot and the state of pop music

Marina and the Diamonds once critiqued the dangers of fame and celebrity by pretending to have succumbed to them. On her 2012 album, Electra Heart, the Welsh singer-songwriter born Marina Diamandis worked with some of pop’s biggest hitmakers and wrote from the perspective of Electra Heart, a fictional, vapid diva who embodied the worst parts of pop culture. “I suppose it was an effort to make a commercial pop record in a subversive way,” she tells TIME.

But for her third album Froot, out now, she shed the wigs and persona, scaled down her collaborators — she wrote all the songs herself and had just one co-producer, David Kosten — and looked inward instead of out. “It’s more reflecting on what’s happened in my life and what’s kind of brought me to this point,” Diamandis says. “[The title] felt symbolic of how I feel now: ripe and ready as an artist and as a person, like I’m ready to really enjoy things. I feel very confident.”

On the song “Savages”: “I’m not a political person at all, but I am interested in society. And seeing rape culture explode over the past few years and be pretty much in the news every single day is sickening. It’s more about trying to start a conversation on why these things are in our human traits. Because they are natural to us even though it’s really hard to hear. No one wants to say that rape is natural, but it’s something that’s been embedded in us, and it’s horrendous. So that inspired that song.”

On how she gets inspired: “My relationship with songwriting is purely based on having something to say. If I don’t, then I just don’t write. It’s definitely not a songwriting camp: [write] 50 songs and then pick the 12 good ones. If I get off tour, usually it’s just getting my sh-t together, relaxing, seeing my friends. And then whatever’s happening in your life feeds into your thoughts and into what inspires you in the end. It’s a very relaxed, normal process.”

On her relationship with her fans: “It’s distinctive, and it feels real and special. They’re very intense, but maybe that’s because I am as well! They’re incredibly supportive and quite protective. ‘Primadonna’ garnered a lot of fans for me, but even though I’m going off into a more left-field, alternative direction, they are with me. Growing up with your fans is really amazing.”

On how the media treats female pop stars: “If I got into an artist who was playing a character and then realized that they have another body of work, you’re like, ‘So who is it, then?’ [That happens] particularly with female artists, maybe because identity is such a shaky thing — it feels like you’re constantly trying to be defined. A song on the album, “Can’t Pin Me Down,” is about that. Maybe it’s because we can change the way we look so easily compared to male artists. I always get the impression that media are like, ‘She’s not really the artist, someone else is creating that.’ With this album I want to make a point about writing the whole thing because [then] you can’t say anything — you know I’m the sole creator. There aren’t many of those artists anymore.”

TIME psychology

This Is Why You Overshop in Ikea

We take you through the popular furniture and home goods store to show you how the layout affects your buying habits

It’s easy to overshop. But at Ikea, it’s almost impossible not to spend more than you originally budgeted.

That’s because the Swedish furniture retailer designs its stores to trigger impulse purchases while making it difficult for shoppers to make a mad dash for the exits. It’s a way to take advantage of Americans’ changing shopping habits, which TIME’s Josh Sanburn detailed in this week’s magazine.

Our current phase of overconsumption began about 30 years ago, when Americans began committing close to half of their annual expenditures to nonnecessities. It was the beginning of a gradual decline in the cost of consumer goods, the growth of everyday credit-card use and the rise of big-box stores and discount retailers that pushed their way into communities nationwide, forcing down prices and profits for those competing around them.

In the past decade, the cost of cell phones, toys, computers and televisions has plunged, thanks in part to overseas manufacturing. The rise of “fast fashion”–popularized by the growth of clothing outlets like Gap, Forever 21 and American Eagle selling $10 T-shirts and $30 jeans–is now driven by low-cost imports H&M and Uniqlo. Today the average U.S. household has about 248 garments and 29 pairs of shoes. It purchases, on average, 64 pieces of clothing and seven pairs of shoes annually, at a total cost of $1,141 a year, or $16 per item.

“When the question is why do we have so much stuff, one reason is because we can,” says Annie Leonard, executive director of the environmental group Greenpeace USA and the creator of The Story of Stuff, an animated video about excessive consumerism. “For a huge percentage of this country, there is no longer an economic obstacle to having the illusion of luxury. It’s just that this stuff is so cheap.”

Watch the video above to go inside one Ikea store in Brooklyn and see how its strategy works, and read more here.

Read next: My House Is Ground Zero in the Clutter Wars

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TIME Television

Kyle Chandler Isn’t Ready to Ditch Coach Taylor Just Yet

The actor says his new show, Bloodline, will play with Friday Night Lights fans' expectations

When I ask Kyle Chandler if he’ll ever be able to re-create the chemistry he had with his Friday Night Lights co-star Connie Britton on a future show, with a different actress — maybe even his upcoming Netflix drama Bloodline, which premieres March 20 — he answers bluntly.

“I hope so. I mean, we’re just actors. It wasn’t real. I’m just pretending. Come on, kid. Stick with me here,” he says, laughing.

Yes, it’s clear that it wasn’t real. But just barely.

Maybe it’s knowing that he lives in Texas with his wife and daughters. Maybe it’s that he describes acting as a sport where actors “take swings at each other.” Or maybe it’s the way he squints his eyes when he delivers his answers with a slight drawl. But Kyle Chandler still seems a lot like Eric Taylor, the strict but beloved Dylan Panthers football coach he played for five years on Friday Night Lights.

Chandler, 49, picked up Coach Taylor easily, thanks to show creator Pete Berg. On the first day of shooting, Chandler and Berg walked into a gymnasium filled with the men who would play football players — most of them college kids who towered over the 6-ft. 1-in. Chandler.

“Pete goes, ‘Hey, go down there and tell everyone to shut the f-ck up and get against the wall.’ So I walk down there, and I say, ‘Hey! Everyone quiet and get up against the wall.’ They didn’t do anything. I started to get a little pissed off, I guess, and I let loose. ‘Hey! What did I just say? Get against —’ And they did. And I turned and looked at Pete, and it was one of those things. He gave me the character right there.”

Chandler had only played football for two years in high school in Georgia. “I was a short, fat kid the first year and got the hell beat out of me. And the second year I was tall and skinny. That was the year my pop died. So that was the end of my football career,” he says matter-of-factly. But he continues to follow the Georgia Bulldogs and Chicago Bears, as Chandler’s early years were spent in the Chicago suburb Lake Forest. For Chandler, the bigger challenge was learning how to act in front of a handheld 16-mm camera: there were no marks and the cameramen moved at will. It gave Friday Night Lights a shaky docudrama quality that fans alternately praised and loathed.

Though the NBC show struggled with ratings — so much so that Berg struck a deal to air the final season on DirecTV — it had a dedicated cult following that shipped lightbulbs to NBC in a bid to keep the program alive. And it’s gained a new generation of fans thanks to Netflix, which is why a handful of smaller roles in high-profile films like The Wolf of Wall Street have done nothing to convince audiences (to say nothing of this interviewer) that Kyle Chandler and Coach Taylor aren’t one and the same.

Chandler says the creators of Bloodline — who wrote the part for Chandler, much like they tailored a part for Glenn Close in their last show, Damages — hope to use those audience preconceptions to their advantage. “Coach Taylor was an honest man,” says Chandler. “They like that because they can manipulate the audience. I have this foundation of honesty. Then, when my character does bad things, people will still think, ‘Cut him a break. He must have a reason.’”

Bloodline, like Netflix’s most successful shows House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black, promises to go to dark places. Chandler plays a sheriff in the Florida Keys whose family secrets begin to unravel when his black-sheep brother returns home. But unlike Damages, the show is meant to be a little more relatable. “Think of three things in your family right now that are dark secrets that you really are ashamed of,” Chandler says. “You’ve already got three of them.” Even the seemingly perfect Taylor family, he muses, had skeletons in its closet.

Chandler has been looking to return to TV ever since the final episode of Friday Night Lights aired in 2011. But nothing felt quite right, including an offer to star in Homeland and a dropped pilot he filmed for Showtime called The Vatican.

Instead, he took a series of smaller roles in big films with prestigious directors, like Ben Affleck’s Argo, Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty and Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street; all three films went on to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. As with both Friday Night Lights and Bloodline, he always played some authority figure — a White House chief, a CIA agent, an FBI agent. He says that his penchant for these roles has become a joke among his friends and family, who say he’s never exuded that much gravitas offscreen.

Chandler’s return to television is more a matter of comfort than of artistic integrity; he dismisses the popular notion that television is in a golden age where it’s finally surpassed film as an art form. There is, he says, a lot of bad television out there.

“I just grew up in the television world. I understand it. When I am working on a show, I get to know these people, and we’re all comfortable and friendly,” he says. “When I walk on to a film set, it makes me kind of nervous. It’s like jumping onto a train that’s already zipping along and you know you’re going to be pushed off before the train stops because you’re just one piece.”

He adds a caveat: “I’ve never been a lead in a film, so I don’t know what that would be like. Maybe you own it, then.”

It’s true that Chandler is mostly a leading man on the small screen — but there, he calls the plays. He even admits to fighting against directors who wanted to soften Coach Taylor on Friday Night Lights.

“In one scene, Coach Taylor was supposed to say to one of the players, ‘Son, you lied to me, but you know what? You go talk to Counselor Tami and we can work it out,’” he recalls. “But the kid lied right to my face. So I said, ‘No, kid, you’re done.’ The director was pulling his hair out saying, ‘You can’t do that!’ I didn’t realize I was getting the kid fired from the show — his character was gone so he was gone — but Coach wouldn’t have let that slide.”

Bloodline is being billed as Chandler’s big return to television — the moment when fans will finally learn whether he can shed Coach’s baseball cap and shorts (which, by the way, he’s not allowed to wear on the new show). But despite the stakes, Chandler doesn’t seem too concerned. If it succeeds, great. If not, that’s fine too. And if people keep calling out “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose,” to him on the street, he won’t try to run away from one of the coolest characters in television history. But, remember, it’s all just an act.

“I wish my dad had stayed alive because he used to call me a faker when I was a kid. If he knew what I was getting away with right now with this job, he’d call me something else. But that’s what we do. We get to lie on-screen. It’s not real.” He pauses. “I’m not a good person. I’m done with this interview.”

Read next: Here’s How Long It Takes to Binge Watch Your Favorite TV Shows Without Bathroom Breaks

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TIME movies

Ethan Hawke: ‘I’ve Been Accused of Being Pretentious My Whole Life, Rightfully So’

The actor-director talks to TIME about his new film Seymour — and reveals what he was thinking at the Oscars

Ethan Hawke, the actor recently nominated for an Oscar for Boyhood, is back in theaters—but this time he’s behind the camera.

The documentary Seymour: An Introduction is Hawke’s latest unexpected creative endeavor, after two novels and several stints onstage. The actor, who got his start as a teenager in Dead Poets Society, uses his new film to show the virtue of stepping out of the limelight. Seymour is Seymour Bernstein, Hawke’s friend and a celebrated concert pianist who left performing behind in order to teach. The film, in theaters March 13, depicts Bernstein’s memories of a long life well-lived, as well as the bond between Bernstein and Hawke; the actor confesses to Bernstein his career anxieties and struggles with stage fright.

Hawke is an open book. Asked how he responds to charges that his various less-than-commercial endeavors add up to James Franco-ish pretensions, the actor is forthcoming: “I’ve been accused of being pretentious my whole life, rightfully so.” As for whether or not he, like Bernstein, will eventually recede from public life? “I think there’s a healthy part of anyone who’s a professional actor that has a little Greta Garbo in them. You know, if you want it too bad, you have another set of problems.” For now, though, he’s never been more productive—or more successful.

Read next: 10 Questions With Ethan Hawke

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TIME movies

J. K. Simmons Will Be Only the Latest Villain to Triumph as a Best Supporting Actor

From Javier Bardem to Joe Pesci, evil wins at Oscar time

Veteran actor J. K. Simmons is considered the overwhelming favorite for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar this year for his performance as abusive jazz teacher Terrence Fletcher in Whiplash, and it’s thanks to a confluence of factors. Simmons, who’s been in everything from TV’s Oz to Spider-Man to M&Ms commercials, is widely respected among the acting community; his performance in Whiplash is very strong and he’s spent a lot of time promoting it. But one factor elevates him, perhaps, above the rest: He’s a villain.

The Oscars’ Best Supporting Actor category has lately been susceptible to the charms of a well-drawn nemesis. For three years running at the end of the last decade, trophies went to Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men, Heath Ledger as the Joker in The Dark Knight, and Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds. Each of these performances were so exultantly evil as to practically necessitate mustache-twirling, and Simmons’s, with its flagrant verbal abuse, is much the same.

Of course, it’s been five years since the streak of villains in this category came to a temporary end; the intervening years saw Christian Bale win for The Fighter, Christopher Plummer for Beginners, Christoph Waltz again for Django Unchained, and Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club. But these performances help show us why Oscar’s villains tend to triumph. With the exception of Bale’s character, who suffers only semi-nobly, all of the past four winners are as uncomplicatedly good as the three who preceded them are uncomplicatedly evil. Not just any villain can take the trophy: Last year saw Leto, playing a near-saint, defeating Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips and Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave, both of whom played their films’ principal antagonists. Both Abdi’s and Fassbender’s performances were uncomfortably real. Abdi’s performance as a Somali pirate was informed by what we understood to be his character’s real-life poverty. Fassbender’s was informed by something that looked too much like madness.

It’s easier to honor a villain when he is charming or cinematically unrealistic. Ledger, Waltz, and now Simmons all played characters whose allure lay in their way with words, drawing viewers in even as they committed emotional, or real, violence. It was a playbook followed by past winners including the murderous Joe Pesci in Goodfellas and the mendacious Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects. As for Bardem’s character, his violence was so outlandishly beyond what we could comprehend, much like Simmons’s verbal abuse, that it didn’t feel like voters were rewarding a sort of evil that could exist in the real world.

Perhaps the only surprise to Simmons’s win is that his type of character doesn’t triumph yet more frequently. After all, a villain role allows a competent actor juicier lines and a thicker air of mystery than anything else on film; it also, no matter how much screentime the actor actually gets, puts him on equal footing with the hero. The award may be for a “supporting” actor, but villains steal the show.

TIME movies

The Imitation Game Director Explains Why the Movie Didn’t Stick to History

The Oscar-nominated director responds to critics who say he changed history

The Imitation Game director Morten Tyldum is still surprised by how little he knew about the movie’s subject, Alan Turing, before taking on the project. “It’s sort of like if Albert Einstein was a little-known mathematician,” he says. “Alan Turing was one of the most important individuals in the last century, and he’d sort of been living in the shadows of history far too long. I think it’s impossible to not be fascinated or intrigued or outraged when you hear the story for the first time.”

Though The Imitation Game (like other some of the other biopics that stand a chance to win an Oscar this weekend) has come under fire for historical inaccuracies and not delving deeply enough into Alan Turing’s sexuality, the Oscar-nominated director says that emotional accuracy was very important to him while making the film. Though he left some of the best odd details he learned about Turing out of the film—”He was allergic to pollen, so he used to wear a gasmask sometimes in meetings without telling anybody why,” for example—Tyldum says the overall arc of the film is true to Turing’s life.

He spoke with TIME about the true story of Turing’s sexuality, suicide and odd habits.

TIME: How much do you think historical accuracy matters in a biopic?

Morten Tyldum: I think it matters a lot. It’s a huge responsibility when you’re dealing with real-life persons and real-life events to do it accurately. Of course, you have to compress a lot into two hours, and there’s no way you can be totally accurate. You have to convey the emotional accuracy—how did Alan Turing feel at this time?—and to do that, you sort of have to dramatize events.

That’s why I wanted it to feel like a thriller. He was 27 years old when he came to Bletchley [Park, where the code-breakers worked]. Here was this man plucked straight out of Cambridge. And he ends up with all these incredible secrets being dumped on his shoulders and all this incredible pressure. It would be as if he was living in the middle of this wartime spy thriller, so that’s what we wanted to convey.

One thing people have been saying is it’s not accurate that the machine he built was named Christopher. Here’s the fact though: The machine was inspired by Christopher. We know this because he wrote letters to Christopher’s mom his whole life. We know that from his journals, his obsession about recreating a consciousness that he lost—Christopher. How do we communicate that onscreen without making it a lecture? By naming the machine Christopher.

Could you talk a little bit about the effort that went into re-creating all the details in the computer?

It’s based on the machine he built. It’s this incredible design with all of these colorful dials in red and yellow—that’s how it was. We also wanted to emphasize that it was more than a machine for Alan. So we added all this red cabling that was sort of like the blood veins of something that is alive.

Turing eventually went through chemical castration and then committed suicide. Do you know what happened to the other men prosecuted under this law?

I think prison was more common than chemical castration. What I do know is that this law had a huge impact on many male lives. I got a very touching email from a 92-year-old man who said, ‘I was wrongfully convicted by the same law as Alan Turing when I was young and thank you for shedding a light on this. I watched your movie in tears.’

Fifty thousand men are still alive who were prosecuted under this law. This law existed up until 1967. Can you imagine? And it was only for men, not women. It was known as the blackmail law because people had something on you they could use against you. That’s why the campaign is going on that all the 50,000 men who have been convicted should all be pardoned. Because there’s nothing to forgive, nothing to pardon. They never did anything wrong.

Why did you decide not to show Alan Turing’s suicide?

We shot Benedict being dead, and in many ways it felt melodramatic and unnecessary. To me, it’s all about his relationship to Christopher. So him turning off the light on the machine and saying goodbye to Christopher, then the movie is over.

At first, we were fascinated by the apple. Alan killed himself by taking a bite of this cyanide apple, and the rumor was that that’s where the Apple logo came from. It was this great link from the inventor of computer science to this device we all carry around in our pockets now. I shot the apple and Benedict lying there and all that. But the whole thing turned into a sort of Apple commercial. The other thing is, it turns out it’s not really true. Steve Jobs said he wished Alan Turing had been the inspiration for the Apple logo, but it was a coincidence.

The apple did come from Alan Turing’s fascination with Snow White, which we tried to get in but there wasn’t room for it. It was too hard to explain. The true story is actually that he watched Snow White when he was waiting for the interview with Commander Denniston at Bletchley Park—the one that you see in the beginning of the film. He took the train from London, and he was early and went to the village cinema to see a movie while he was waiting. He saw Snow White, and from then on, he was a little obsessed with the story of Snow White. That’s why he decided to kill himself with the bite of an apple—which is in many ways poetic, but it felt like too much to explain.

I wanted to show the last night they had together, which is also a true story, they made this huge bonfire and burned everything. I wanted to go from his goodbye to Christopher to that ending with the fire. It just felt right.

Read next: Benedict Cumberbatch Talks About Playing the Role of the Genius

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TIME movies

The Imitation Game Director Morten Tyldum: We Didn’t Need Gay Sex Scenes

"It’s kind of prejudiced to say that if you have a gay character in a movie, you need to show explicit gay sex," says the Oscar-nominated director

Few knew who Norwegian director Morten Tyldum was before he took on the Alan Turing biopic, The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. But the film about the inventor of computer science, who broke the Nazi code and helped win World War II, has earned Tyldum a Oscar nomination for best director (along with nods for Cumberbatch, Knightley and Best Picture). Even if Tyldum doesn’t win, his star is on the rise: He’s set to film a space romance called Passengers next with Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence in talks to star.

Still, The Imitation Game — like every other biopic this Oscar season — hasn’t been without controversy. Tyldum talks his decisions not to delve deeper into Turing’s sexuality and not show his suicide with TIME.

How much did you know about Alan Turing before the film?

I’ve always been interested in history, so it shocked me when I read the script how little I knew about Turing. It’s sort of like if Albert Einstein was a little-known mathematician. Alan Turing was one of the most important individuals in the last century, and he’d been living in the shadows of history far too long. I think it’s impossible to not be fascinated or intrigued or outraged when you hear the story for the first time.

How much do you think historical accuracy matters in a biopic?

I think it matters a lot. It’s a huge responsibility when you’re dealing with real-life persons and real-life events to do it accurately. Of course, you have to compress a lot into two hours, and there’s no way you can be totally accurate. You have to convey the emotional accuracy—how did Alan Turing feel at this time?—and to do that, you sort of have to dramatize events.

That’s why I wanted it to feel like a thriller. He was 27 years old when he came to Bletchley. Here was this man plucked straight out of Cambridge. And he ends up with all these incredible secrets being dumped on his shoulders and all this incredible pressure. It would be as if he was living in the middle of this wartime spy thriller, so that’s what we wanted to convey.

One criticism of the film has been that you didn’t delve deeply enough into Alan Turing’s sexuality.

First of all, it’s very accurate the way it is in the film. His words about his time at Bletchley, he called it a sexual desert—he wrote that in a letter to a friend. He didn’t have any sexual encounters during all that time. His most important relationship he had was his relationship with Joan. They were engaged for six months. He even wanted children with her at that time.

We’re not shying away from Alan being gay. To me, the movie is about lost love, unfulfilled love. The computer came out of the loss of Christopher and the idea to try to recreate a consciousness. To create another love interest for him would be completely meaningless and also not true. It would be sort of like having a random, unnecessary sex scene with him and another man. You would never do that, even with a straight character. It’s kind of prejudiced to say that if you have a gay character in a movie, you need to show explicit gay sex.

Why did you decide not to show Alan Turing’s suicide?

We shot Benedict being dead, and in many ways it felt melodramatic and unnecessary. To me, it’s all about his relationship to Christopher. So him turning off the light on the machine and saying goodbye to Christopher, then the movie is over.

At first, we were fascinated by the apple. Alan killed himself by taking a bite of this cyanide apple, and the rumor was that that’s where the Apple logo came from. It was this great link from the inventor of computer science to this device we all carry around in our pockets now. But I shot the apple and Benedict lying there and all that. But the whole thing turned into a sort of Apple commercial. The other thing is, it turns out it’s not really true. Steve Jobs said he wished Alan Turing had been the inspiration for the Apple logo, but it was a coincidence.

The apple did come from Alan Turing’s fascination with Snow White, which we tried to get in but there wasn’t room for it. It was too hard to explain. The true story is actually that he watched Snow White when he was waiting for the interview with Commander Denniston at Bletchley Park—the one that you see in the beginning of the film. He took the train from London, and he was early and went to the village cinema to see a movie while he was waiting. He saw Snow White, and from then on, he was a little obsessed with the story of Snow White. That’s why he decided to kill himself with the bite of an apple—which is in many ways poetic, but it felt like too much to explain.

I wanted to show the last night they had together, which is also a true story, they made this huge bonfire and burned everything. I wanted to go from his goodbye to Christopher to that ending with the fire. It just felt right.

Benedict Cumberbatch seems like a very charismatic person, but he was playing this characters who was a bit socially awkward.

We don’t think he had autism. Some people believed that at the time because he had some of the traits. But when you see his writing, he’s very insightful when he writes about himself and his own situation. He just had this mind that went in five different directions at all times. In the middle of a conversation, he could just leave if he felt you weren’t smart or interesting.

He was an odd man. He was allergic to pollen, so he used to wear a gas mask sometimes. He just would come to a meeting and have gas masks on without telling anybody and would just sit there and talk. He had this mug that he drank tea from. And he was paralyzed that someone would take it, so he chained it to his radiator. He did some odd things.

An overlooked part of Bletchley’s history and the history of computer programming is the role women played. Why was it important to develop Joan (Keira Knightley) as a character?

She started up as a clerk, or a “big room girl,” as they called it. Bletchley was mostly women, but they were doing the legwork, the paperwork, translations. In the whole history of Bletchley, there was only two women that ever got to work on that level, and Joan Clark was the first.

She was this brilliant mathematician, but she lived in a time when intellect wasn’t really valued in women. And that was the beauty of Alan is that he didn’t have this prejudice. He really saw what she was, and they fell in love—this kind of odd friendship love—because they were both incredibly smart people. They worked together for six months, and it was a very fulfilling time for her because she was allowed to finally do something which was really meaningful and important. She continued to work for the government after the war at Bletchley.

The celebration of the outsider seems to be at the heart of the film.

They were both outsiders: she being a woman, he being this socially awkward gay man. Alan Turing was able to come up with this extraordinary idea because he looked at the world from a different point of view. It wasn’t just that he was a closeted gay man — he was also a man who had a mind that worked differently. And Joan was this woman who had to struggle to be recognized for being brilliant. It is trying to celebrate that and show how important that is.

TIME relationships

Watch First Graders Explain Valentine’s Day

And answer questions like, "Can someone love you too much?"

Is it ever too early to start celebrating Valentine’s Day? These adorable Brooklyn first graders took a quick lesson in composing love letters as they sat down to write valentines to a special someone. Their heartfelt sentiments were addressed to moms, dads—and even Michael Jackson.

But sometimes, love can be tough, even for these kids. One girl solemnly recounts her experience: “When someone kissed you, you don’t like their breath.”

Now if only the holiday was that simple for the rest of us.

TIME Books

Then and Now: Two Interviews With Fifty Shades of Grey Author E.L. James

"Fame is not something I sought," she says

When Erika Leonard first came up with the idea that became Fifty Shades of Grey, she called herself Snow Queen Ice Dragon — or SQID, for short — and wrote on a site for Twilight fans. Her erotic tales involving the characters Bella Thorne and Edward Cullen proved so popular she was persuaded to change some names and amass them into an e-book, produced by a teensy publisher in suburban Australia and written under the name E.L. James.

Kindles were a relatively new thing in 2011 and, as Leonard tells it, a group of women in Long Island, New York, found the e-books and began to tell their friends — of which there were many. As the book’s popularity grew, a group invited Leonard to come to a a reading. Photojournalist Gillian Laub was there for the occasion and grabbed an interview with the reclusive author.

Fast forward a few years, and Leonard is now a multimillionaire author and producer of the movie version of Fifty Shades, out Feb. 13. While media reports suggest that she hasn’t let wealth and fame change her too much, she doesn’t really need to give interviews. But she did consent to answer some (not all) of our questions via email.

TIME: What scene in the movie were you most worried about translating to screen and why?
Erika Leonard:
I was most worried about the scenes in the red room. I wanted them to be tasteful and erotic, and that was a journey, but we got there in the end.

Do you have favorite scene?
The glider scene and the post-graduation bar scene. For me those scenes really capture the spirit of the book.

What made you decide to become a producer?
Because I could. (Christian Grey would appreciate that comment.) I didn’t want to take the money and run — I wanted the movie to be one the readership would love.

What have you enjoyed most about the process of filming?
I enjoyed breaking down the book with the screenwriter Kelly Marcel and deciding what should and should not be in the movie. That was fun — hard work, but fun.

Your life must have changed so much in the last three years. Do you have any reflections on fame?
Fame is not something I sought, and happily I’m still not that famous — I can still roam the streets anonymously, at home and in the States, and I love that. But I have had some amazing experiences, and for that I’m incredibly grateful to all the people who bought and loved the books.

Is there anything you would differently if you wrote the books again?
Yes. Quite a few things, in fact — but the books seem to be so well loved by so many I’ve let all that go…

Do you have plans to write more books?
Yes, I do. But like most authors I’d rather do it than talk about it.

These books are an exploration of a fantasy. Have you been surprised by how much they’ve resonated?
Surprised doesn’t quite cover it. I get the most extraordinary, heart wrenching emails from readers who have been deeply touched by the books. I’m honored that so many people have shared their moving stories and their love of the books with me.

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