British screenwriter Fernley Phillips was first turned on to the number 23 enigma by a friend. And much like Walter Sparrow, the lead character in "The Number 23", Phillips was quickly drawn in to the mystery of the number and its meaning. Phillips devoured the vast literature and subculture surrounding the number and found himself inspired to use the enigma as the chilling backbone for a unique film.
"My friend mentioned the number 23 enigma, which led me to read authors such as futurist Robert Anton Wilson, who wrote things like The Illuminatus Trilogy," recalls Phillips, who earned his first screenplay sale with "The Number 23". "I began to open up to the numerical phenomena, as well as memory repression, hypnosis and the power of suggestion. I decided to incorporate all these subjects into a story."
Phillips’ first instinct was to incorporate these ideas and the number 23 into a political thriller. "But I am not by nature political. I enjoy real events, real people," he says. "I came up with an idea that concerns a man who reads a book that mirrors his life and reminds him of distant images and events. I needed a title for that book, and decided to bring the ‘number 23’ into the story. I wanted audiences to start thinking for themselves about how something like this enigma could find meaning in their own lives."
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