Saturday, April 10, 2010
Wonder Con has come and gone, and I got to interview The Losers. Was it awesome? As awesome as the footage they'd shown directly beforehand!
So, yes. It was awesome. This interview also went up over at Screen Rant, so feel free to make me look good and check it out there, as well.
As cast members Columbus Short (Stomp the Yard), Chris Evans (Sunshine), Oscar Jaenada (Trash), Zoe Saldana (Star Trek), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (P.S. I Love You) and director Sylvain White (Stomp the Yard) filed into the press room, the journalists were told in no uncertain terms by Ms. Saldana, “‘We were sweating Oscar all summer, you guys."
Mr. Jaenada proceeded to sit in absolute silence for the rest of interview, seemingly content to emit a never-ending wave of mystery. He may in fact be the coolest man you will ever meet.
From the get go, the camaraderie of the cast members was palpable, and the sit down was filled with as many inside-jokes and as much rapport as the audience had just seen during the panel. Along with a sharp and interesting visual style, the promise of a dynamic cast with great chemistry seems a guaranteed part of The Losers experience.
Many projects here have what could be diplomatically describe as a tenuous link to comic books. How does it feel to be a part of a project that is steeped in them?
Chris Evans: Comic books can suck it.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan: It’s great to be here. You know, this is a great world to be in, and as actors you get all these scripts and what’s great about it is, the stories are original. There’s this kind of ebb and flow in Hollywood, you get the same scripts over and over, every romantic comedy reads exactly the same, and in the world of graphic novels there’s originality there, and some great characters.
Zoe Saldana: You get to expand your craft and be more creative.
JDM: Yeah! So it’s way groovy to be here, we’re all happy to be here, or we wouldn’t have done the movie. That was a crazy question!
Sylvain White: I think particularly for me as a filmmaker and a graphic novel fan since I was a kid, it’s an absolute delight to be here among my peers and present what I’ve done with a graphic nvoel that’s so cool like The Losers and that’s so original in tone. And I think that’s what Jeffrey’s saying, is there’s a lot of derivative material out there and now graphic novels are kind of re-boosting Hollywood in that sense, kind of giving them original stories that are sort of untapped.
SW: There’s two things that I focused on that I knew worked extremely well in the graphic novel, the first thing is the tone: the graphic novel has a unique tone combining really gritty visceral action with a really strong humorous tone. The characters are really fun to navigate the action with, so that’s the first thing. The second thing is that aesthetically, the graphic novel is amazing. And I really wanted to reflect that in the movie. You know you can’t necessarily replicate frames out of the graphic novel, I don’t think that helps anybody, but there’s certain things that I talked about with Jock in terms of the use of colors and the graphic design of the novel that I really wanted to translate into the movie, so we have a kind of comic book aesthetic, but it doesn’t hit you over the head with it. It sort of eases you into that world.
Jeffrey- how much of the original comic do you bring to the role?
JDM: With Watchmen, that was so kind of iconic, that needed to be exactly so close to the comic or people would have ripped us a new one. With this, this was a great foundation to use. For Sylvain, invaluable. For us as characters- invaluable! Because it gives you a really great place to start and jump off. Jock and Diggle did such a good job with defining these characters, and Sylvain allowed us as actors to kind of take what we gathered out of those graphic novels and bring to life what we thought of those particular characters, and relationships, and so we got to play around a little bit more than say I did in Watchmen.
Chris, could you talk about your connection to comic books?
CE: I’m not a big comic book reader, I don’t really have a big history and a love for comic books, I didn’t grow up reading them. But they’re fantastic for films! I was saying earlier in the giant room that they’re great for films in the sense that it’s an intangible thing, you have all these different creative people coming together, trying to make something, and the director is the quarter back, trying to bridge the gap of all these different artists, together, with words. And a lot of times the message can be lost in translation, not all the time, but the beautiful thing about comic books are, even movies based on novels, you have like a blueprint. You have a tangible thing to say this is the world we’re going for, especially in comic books, you have like a color palette, you have a visual home base to kind of root yourself in. As an actor, it’s knowing at least that the people that are behind the visual element of the film have this kind of blueprint to work off of, and as an actor you have something to go off of too, so it’s a treat, it’s always nice working off a comic book because you know what you’re getting into beforehand.
Chris- CAPTAIN AMERICA CAPTAIN AMERICA CAPTAIN AMERICA? (This question paraphrased from necessity due to a glitch in the audio.)
CE: [Flummoxed sound that defies transcription]. Aaaaah, I don’t know, I really don’t know. It was… eeh. It was just. Ah.
[The other cast members collapse into laughter.]
CE: I think Marvel is doing a lot of good things right now. And it’s a fun character- I think, even if it wasn’t a comic book, I think just the story of Steve Rogers is great, he’s a great guy. Even if it was just a script about anybody, I would wanna do it. It wasn’t necessarily about the comic itself, it was about -
ZS: It was about the tights.
CE: Any time I can get in blue tights. Um- it’s just, he’s a great character to play. Just so happens to be a comic book.
Is there less pressure to do something like The Losers which is not as well known as opposed to Watchmen, Star Trek, FF, something more iconic?
SW: I didn’t necessarily see t that way. I think the pressure comes from the fact that it’s really great source material and you want the translation to a movie to be at least as good if not better. The pressure came from there. But in terms of how aware or not people are of the graphic novel, it was pretty inconsequential for me. I just wanted to make a great movie that can reflect the graphic novel as best as it can.
The forward in the first volume of the collected works talks a lot about the filmic influences on the comic series. How much going back, then, and doing the movie did you look at that- Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, some of the other things listed- how did you incorporate that into your performances and the filming of the movie? (Hint: This question asked by me.)
Columbus Short: …uuh, one of the- one- Hmm.
CS: One of the reasons I wanted to do this movie- as an actor I, personally, want to do things that are grounded in some sense of reality. And this is one of the graphic novels that I think, in the last five years, is a) one of the best ones I’ve ever read- and it’s grounded in a sense of reality. They’re not fantastic, they’re not in tights, they’re not flying and have superpowers, but they’re anti-heroes, they’re real guys.
CE: You got a problem with that?
JDM: Ruining half my career, right now.
CS: No, no no, it’s what I like to do. That what I like, and Sylvain is using a grounded material like this, you know what I mean, so it helped in our performance, like Jeffrey was saying, having some freedom, some liberties because it’s not Captain America or Superman. We know what Superman is, we know what Batman is, but we’ve had some liberal ability to change up our characters and give our own take on it, which comes across great on screen, the chemistry with us. Because we all have… we’re all close to our characters in this film, I think, in a real way-
ZS: [laughs loudly.]
CS: I can turn these glasses and this cup into something special.
Sylvain- Can you confirm or deny the rumors about Robotech?
SW: What are the rumors?
That you’re directing.
SW: Well it’s not a project that’s green lit or anything like that, so. It’s a great cult series, you know, when it came out I actually saw it in France, growing up. I saw it in French and it’s a pretty amazing cartoon and I’m hoping it’s going to come to fruition. I actually read a draft that was really good, so-
JDM: Are there any parts for us?
CE: I need a job.
So that’s a yes?
SW: I’m interested in doing it, but you know the project is not fast-tracked or anything like that, so there’s no official things, there’s no DL or anything like that. They sent me a draft, I liked it, I think it’s a work in progress.
Is it about the Macross saga? Or does it go through to Southern Cross, or… (Nerd alert- that would be me.)
SW: It’s the first generation. I’ll say this, what’s really cool about The Losers, as well, is that we didn’t try to jam pack all the comics into one movie, we really went back to the source material, started with Ante-Up, which is volume one, and follow the story lineally. So the cool thing is that it’s really an origin story how these guys became the Losers, and hopefully leaves a lot of room, from the source material, for sequels. So hopefully people will like movie and we can keep on enjoying the adventures of The Losers.
JDM: You’re amazing.
CE: That was very well said!
SW: When I came on this film it was an R, the studio perceived it as an R film, and I thought that’s ludicrous, because the tone of the graphic novels - that’s what important, it’s not the violence, it’s how intense and visceral the action is. So I went for that instead of how gory and graphic the violence is. The good thing is it still feels hard, hard as hell. It still feels gritty and realistic.
CS: What does R and PG-13 even mean, anymore? Cuz you can shoot a baby in the face and still-
ME: R has bad words.
JDM: You can’t say f@#!. Sorry, anyone under 18.
SW: The rules were pretty easy to navigate with this film, particularly, and I don’t think you miss [the language]. Like you watch the movie and [don't] think ‘oh, this is a pg-13 movie’ and I think that’s a good accomplishment.