"There was a time when I was really deep into it where I probably could have written a thesis or done a presentation at a physics convention about all the stuff," the 35-year-old, who is based in
"When we had physics consultants look at the script at the very end, they just kind of gave checkmarks and said, 'Yeah, it's fine.'"
"I'll Follow You Down" opens Friday in
The enigmatic nature of the story seems to span multiple genres as viewers try to figure out whether the time-travel element is true or if the father disappeared either on his own volition or due to something nefarious.
Also a mystery? How did the now-26-year-old Osment — who got an Oscar nomination as the cute kid in "The Sixth Sense" — seem to grow up so fast?
Mehta said he, too, didn't realize the actor was already into adulthood when two casting directors suggested him for the role.
"I was kind of like, 'Really?' It seemed interesting and I ended up meeting him in
"I'll Follow You Down" is Mehta's follow-up to his debut feature, "
He said he got the idea for the film when he was waiting at an airport for a friend to arrive from
The film's broader theme of choices and consequences is one Mehta has been ruminating on since he watched the film "Jurassic Park" with his parents as they were going through a divorce. When
"That kind of struck me, this idea of, yeah, we make mistakes, we all screw up, it doesn't mean we should be judged for that. However, there are consequences to those mistakes that we must pay for, all of us," he said.
Mehta said he mapped out the consequences of each character's choices using charts during the 12-year script-writing process, and he had physics consultants help out with math equations written on chalkboards in some scenes.
Besides his laborious library sessions, he also got some helpful physics information from listening to a
"When they prefaced the interview, they listed all the subjects he was an expert at now, and it was like string theory, quantum mechanics ... and multivariable calculus," said Mehta. "And I'm like, 'Thank you. You just listed everything I needed to go and research.'"
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