Read the script for Benjamin Cleary’s sci-fi drama starring Mahershala Ali

Editor’s Note: Deadline’s Read the Screenplay series debuts and celebrates the movie scripts that will be factors in this year’s cinematic award race.

The science fiction concept behind Apple Original Films’ Swan song was both new and fantastic: Cameron Turner, terminally ill (Mahershala Ali) undergoes an experimental cloning procedure to create a new, healthy version of himself in order to secretly take his place with his wife (Naomi Harris) and family. But writer-director Benjamin Claire knew that his film would be fueled by the deeply real and distinctly human emotions stemming from love, loss and grief.

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“From the moment I got the idea for Swan Song almost 10 years ago, I was both scared and excited,” said Cleary, who previously designed the award-winning short. Oscars. Stutterer. He was aware that he would dive into painful personal territory while taking on the daunting challenge of directing his first feature film, but was also elated “to explore many evocative questions about our existence, our relationships, and the fleeting beauty of our country. time here. As a storyteller, the excitement outweighed the fear.

“For me, the best stories that come up are the ones where I can see that I can tell a very personal story, or go back and highlight some really difficult things that I have experienced in my own life,” said Cleary. . “There were sudden losses of a few people that happened when I was 19, 20 and 21, and how my state of mind changed after that, and how I was constantly thinking about what would happen if someone ‘one I loved passed away, or what would happen to my family if I died.

In the search for a historical framework for Swan songCleary found inspiration when a loved one was diagnosed with a brain tumor and told doctors they were ready to try even the most experimental treatment. From there, he concocted a vision of the near future where Cameron, in an attempt to cope with his death without breaking his wife’s heart, finds himself struggling with a love triangle with himself as his rival. romantic.

“When that sci-fi premise came along, I realized pretty quickly that it could be a way of telling a human story, self-examination, examination with this other person who is identical to him,” Cleary said. “I could weave in the love story, weave in a lot of things on the fleeting beauty of our time here and all of that stuff. It was just one of those premises that grabbed you: It was really personal and I felt like I could hopefully put some of my heart and soul into it, and that hopefully. -le, other people will connect in the same way.

Read Cleary’s script below.

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