Quint interviews Jon Favreau about all things IRON MAN and even a little something about JOHN CARTER OF MARS!!!
Published at: July 29, 2006, 5:40 a.m. CST by staff
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with an interview I did with Jon Favreau shortly before he did his panel at Comic-Con for IRON MAN, his next flick. We had less than 10 minutes to chat, but below you'll find tons of info on how they're tackling IRON MAN and even an update on what's happening with JOHN CARTER OF MARS. Enjoy!!!
QUINT: Do you know how long we have?
JON FAVREAU: I don't... I think we have a nice amount of time, though... How long do we... (looks around). I don't even know where my peeps are...
QUINT: (I call to Karl, a rep from Paramount who has hung with me on many Paramount set visits) Hey, Karl! How long do we have?
KARL: Oh, you have, like, 8 minutes.
JON FAVREAU: Opulent.
QUINT: So, who's playing Tony Stark?
JON FAVREAU: I don't know yet.
QUINT: Thought I'd give it a shot...
JON FAVREAU: I'll tell you who the bad guy is, though.
QUINT: Oh yeah? Who's the bad guy?
JON FAVREAU: The bad guy is going to be The Mandarin. So, that's what we're toying with now.
QUINT: Are you announcing that on the panel?
JON FAVREAU: I don't know. If somebody asks I'll answer. I think it'll blow people's minds, too, because they're so used to nobody giving any information out. I'll just say, "Hey. It's 2 years out. It's too early to really start talking about anything..." and if somebody says, "Who's the bad guy?" I'll say, "It's The Mandarin." They're used to people playing it so close to the vest here.
They're going to know by the casting breakdown anyway, when they see we want an Asian man, mid-30s to play the villain in IRON MAN. They're going to figure it out.
QUINT: I've read lots of IRON MAN, but mostly within other books like AVENGERS, I never really got into his own series as a kid...
JON FAVREAU: I hadn't either. That's the same way I was.
QUINT: With other Marvel heroes, I can picture their most notable villain... Wolverine has Sabretooth, Captain America has The Red Skull, Spider-Man has about a dozen... But with IRON MAN I can't picture him with his arch-nemesis, but that could just be my ignorance of the book. The only other character I remember him fighting at one point is maybe Ultron or War Machine.
JON FAVREAU: And he's not even a bad guy, really. He's kind of his friend, Rhodes, you know? And we definitely want to explore that eventually, but... You know, the gift and the curse of IRON MAN is that there's no definitive story line or set of villains for this guy. What people are more concerned about is that you get the character of Tony Stark right and that the suit's right, the look is right. Which is really freeing from a filmmaking standpoint because you're not being tied to a certain... uh...
QUINT: He doesn't have his Black Suit Saga, he doesn't have his Dark Phoenix Saga...
JON FAVREAU: That's right. Exactly. You know, look at X-MEN 3, how much heat they caught on not doing Phoenix exactly as it was in the books. It's a lot of pressure. With this as long as we get the right look and the right guy playing Tony and tell it in a real way, I think the fans will all really embrace what we do.
QUINT: Are you going to go for a star for the role of Tony Stark?
JON FAVREAU: I think we're going for... We just hired the casting director last week. We sort of had it narrowed down. We're probably not going to go with a guy who's bigger than the title. Somebody that would overpower the title.
QUINT: Johnny Depp in that category now?
JON FAVREAU: (smiles) Johnny Depp, you know... You make room for a guy like Johnny Depp. But, no it's not going to be Johnny Depp. But then you don't want somebody who is a complete unknown that you're trusting...
QUINT: That you're praying to God is going to turn into Brandon Routh or Hugh Jackman...
JON FAVREAU: That's right. I don't have that kind of eye like Bryan Singer, where I trust my instincts so much that I'll let a guy carry a movie. So, you're looking for people with a body of work who has got experience. If you're looking for somebody in their 30s you're going to find people who have done a lot of work... and somebody hasn't totally hit yet or never really got the chance to anchor a movie of this size. So, that's what we're exploring now. People with a body of work who might be a great actor, but aren't necessarily viewed by the studios as though they sort of make a movie happen.
QUINT: So, which Stark are you portraying? The mean drunk or the desperately ill or...
JON FAVREAU: I think it starts off as the oblivious arms manufacturer who gets a huge dose of reality when he's taken into captivity and he's a hostage in Afghanistan. I think he starts to understand the ramifications of the way he's been living his wife when he's exposed to that degree of reality and try to play that as real as possible. And, of course, we're going to really explore the injury and how that affects you, not knowin'... Well, it depends how far you go with it. There are certain story lines in the books where he doesn't know if any given day is going to be his last because of this Sword of Damocles hanging over him. And then sometimes you totally forget the fact that he's got a piece of shrapnel workin' its way towards his aorta.
So, we'll have to find the right balance with that.
QUINT: So, I saw the poster... Red and Gold for the suit, yeah?
JON FAVREAU: Yeah, Red and Gold. We're going to start with the Grey and then we're going with the Red and Gold. I think we're going to go circular chest piece and we're definitely inspired by the Adi Granov stuff and he's actually working on the suit design with us.
QUINT: So, when you say "start with the grey," you don't mean a grey version of the Red and Gold suit, but the big, clunky dome thing, right?
JON FAVREAU: Yeah. We're going to go low-tech. We're going to have to believe that he built it in captivity.
QUINT: Will it look like his first appearance suit?
JON FAVREAU: Well, it's a... it's a... Look. It's going to be so hard... Just the idea that they just sort of brush over in the books, which is... instead of building a bomb, "While I was pretending to build a bomb, I built this war suit, this tech-armor." It's like, "What kind of bomb were you building that looked like that? With eye slits on it and arms." And then they snapped it together at the last minute.
So, I think you gotta go pretty low-tech to help swallow that jagged pill.
QUINT: Are you going to go for a CGI/practical mix ?
JON FAVREAU: Mostly CG, I think.
QUINT: So, a kind of inverse on what you did with ZATHURA, where you had mostly practical with some CG...
JON FAVREAU: That's right. I think you gotta do Iron Man CG most of the time, but with that in mind, you have to do everything else practical. You have to treat the camera as if you're shooting something real. I think if you look at KING KONG... I mean, I really believe what they were able to do with KONG and he was completely, 100% virtual. Because it has to do with the way the performance capture was done, it has to do with the way it was covered, it has to do with the use of mid-ground miniatures and practical plates and that's what helped sell it.
QUINT: I think it might be more of a tough time bring Iron Man to life, since he doesn't have eyes. Kong's expressions and eyes made him the real character to me.
JON FAVREAU: But the surfaces will read as true and the suit will read as real. It's much easier to show something inorganic in CG than it is with something with fur or skin or even a man in tights. If there's any character the lends himself to doing it CG it would be a robotic suit, it would be Iron Man.
QUINT: Is The Mandarin the only villain? Are you doing a one villain/one hero film?
JON FAVREAU: Ahh... sort of... (laughs).
QUINT: Supporting characters?
JON FAVREAU: Rhodey (James Rhodes), Pepper Potts, Obadiah Stane... those are the core. I think that there's mixtures and fusions of things, but that's what it is. A lot of homework is being done and there will definitely be some layers in there for people who are fans of the books.
QUINT: What's going on with JOHN CARTER OF MARS?
JON FAVREAU: I want it to be next. I just visited (Edgar Rice Burroughs') grandson and showed all the art work to him and they loved what we were doing. The fact that (IRON MAN) is a Paramount project and (JOHN CARTER) is a Paramount project, I'm really hoping I can sort of segue right from one into the other.
QUINT: IRON MAN might make a good step between ZATHURA and JOHN CARTER.
JON FAVREAU: I think it is. We'll see how much they want to do IRON MAN 2! Let's see how excited they get about Carter because I would do more of these, you know, but I really... You know, Carter has really turned into a labor of love. I really have grown to love that character and that franchise and I think we really broke the story and the visuals, so I'm ready to make that one.
Once again, Favreau says all the right things, at least to me, but I'm no hardcore IRON MAN fanatic. I want to see a badass IRON MAN movie the same way I want to see a badass GHOST RIDER movie. I'm not married to the character, but I think they could look fuckin' killer on the big screen. Plus, I'm with Cap'n in this whole Civil War thing. Fuck Iron Man! hehe
Hope you folks enjoyed the interview. I have many more to bring you from my time at Comic-Con. They'll start bombarding the site this weekend!