The filmmaker explained that he was suffering from frequent migraines at the time, and was undergoing the process of getting his brain checked out to make sure nothing else was wrong. “I think I was 24,” he said. “I was working at a job I didn’t like very much and I was getting these migraines every day.” As a self-described hypochondriac, Whannell decided to get tests done to find the source of the headaches. He told the outlet:
“I had an MRI, and it was such a weird experience to be just sitting there in the waiting area of a neurology ward, being nervous about getting an MRI. And that really was the impetus for the [Jigsaw] character. I started to think, ‘What if you were given the news that you had a tumor and you were going to die soon? How would you react to that?'”
The line of thought inspired Whannell to imagine a man “who had been given a time limit” in the form of a terminal diagnosis, and who chose to “put people in a literal version of that [situation].” From there, the iconic villain played by Tobin Bell began taking shape. “Instead of a doctor telling you, ‘You have a year to live, make the best of it,’ this guy would put people in a situation and say, ‘You have 10 minutes to live. How are you going to spend those 10 minutes? Are you going to get out of it?'” As odd as the idea sounds, it became an elegant solution to the question Wan’s premise posed; in a way, Jigsaw became a demented version of a doctor delivering bad news to a patient.