Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with the second half of my HULK interviews. We had producers Kevin Feige and Gale Anne Hurd up first and within a minute of them leaving actor Tim Roth and director Louis Leterrier sat down to chat. As you’ll see, the interview is full of laughs. It was a very light and fun chat. I hope you guys enjoy it!
Louis Leterrier: So I’m here and I’m excited.
Quint: You’ve never done the Alamo experience?
Louis Leterrier: I’ve never done the Alamo experience. I’ve never been to Texas, it’s my first time.
Quint: You foolishly decided to come out during the summer when it’s nice and hot.
Tim Roth: Hello.
Quint: It’s good to meet you.
Tim Roth: Have you seen it yet?
Quint: No. I will in a few hours.
Tim Roth: Oh so you don’t know… I have no idea.
Louis Leterrier: He hasn’t seen it either.
Tim Roth: I saw the little bits that you have probably seen. [Points to Leterrier] He’s seen “most” of it.
Quint: I would hope so.
Tim Roth: …but not too much. They won’t let him see too much. It sounds fantastic.
Quint: We’ve gotten some reviews in, because it has started to screen…
Tim Roth: The only thing I know is the press have told me it’s OK.
Louis Leterrier: He is so afraid…
Tim Roth: I am! I’m like that! (turns his fingers into a cross)
Tim Roth: (Whisper Yelling) Fuck off!
Quint: Readers who have written in are saying that this is the comic book movie that we would want it to be. No pressure… (laughs)
Tim Roth: My thing is when we were talking and Louis pitched it to me a million years ago was that it’s like the graphic novels, which is what I like, to be honest with you and what my kids like, but it also gives a real nod to the comic books and the idea of the comic books is chase and that was what the TV series was always about, every week.
Quint: It’s the chase and it’s Banner running, not just from people, but from himself.
Tim Roth: And also, they want to use him as a bullet. The military are the bad guys in a way, which I think is the equivalent of the Cold War, right?
Louis Leterrier: Yep.
Quint: It’s kind of like the IRON GIANT metaphor. “Don’t be a gun.”
Louis Leterrier: Tonight we will see… So tell me, obviously you have done these things before, so is it just like fans or…?
Quint: It’s probably the best movie audience that you can expect. It’s all people who love film so you really need to give them a reason not to like it. If you give them any opportunity to get into it, they will be.
Tim Roth: And what about the comic book things? Are they keen on that stuff?
Quint: Yeah, they did an IRON MAN screening and I wasn’t here. I was in LA at the time, which pissed me off to no end, but according all of my friends who went, it was just the most amazing screening. They had a guy in a jet pack.
Louis Leterrier: Oh, yeah the jet pack guy.
Tim Roth: Yeah, we’ve got a guy in a jet pack…
Louis Leterrier: No we don’t… (laughs) Maybe just a guy with the hands…
Quint: What I hear is we have a Hulk Bouncy Castle.
Tim Roth: Yes! My son today on the way to school said, so can you tell the Marvel guys to get me… I want a full Abomination suit, because I know they have those for the hulk at Halloween, but I want one and if they don’t have one, can you tell them to invent one? So, that’s my job… Suits for very small people.
Quint: You might start seeing some midget suits go out.
Tim Roth: Yes. Abomination should be afraid of midgets… they can get in his ears…
Quint: That’d actually be really scary. I won’t lie, that would frighten me.
Louis Leterrier: So, what did they say?
Tim Roth: (Motions to Gale and Kevin on the other side of the room) These guys. The suits.
Quint: I don’t know… They said something about how much they regret hiring the French…
Tim Roth: And those dodgy London actors… Although, they’re cheap.
Tim Roth: He had to fight to get me on the movie.
Quint: Oh really?
Tim Roth: No, seriously.
Louis Leterrier: Actually yeah, it took…
Tim Roth: I remember Kevin [Feige] had said “thank you” for convincing him, but Louis’s idea, which I think has worked in the IRON MAN favor as well, is to get not the A list types, but to get actors in. You get actors in to play these characters and then suddenly it’s fun and odd. I liken the Abomination thing to an independent movie in a way in his little world. It was a very big budget independent movie.
Louis Leterrier: For you maybe.
Tim Roth: For him, it was hell. I was the “fun” set.
Louis Leterrier: But it’s true that it took a little bit of convincing, just because everybody has an idea of what Emil Blonsky should be and also we had to make him evolve a little bit from the cold war spy that he was, so actually I met (Tim) before I knew…
Tim Roth: Brad Pitt was his first choice.
Louis Leterrier: Brad Pitt was first and then he said “Go fuck yourself, Frenchie.”
Tim Roth: In French.
Louis Leterrier: Yeah, in French. I was surprised.
Tim Roth: Amazing!
Louis Leterrier: It was amazing.
Louis Leterrier: We met in New York. My first American film, it had a light shined on it and I would get to meet all of the cool actors and I was in New York and I was like “Tim Roth? I want to meet him.”
Tim Roth: I was just leaving in fact.
Louis Leterrier: He was just leaving New York and we had lunch and it was the greatest lunch ever. Normally with these lunches it can be a half hour of being really tense and boring or two hours that are very fun.
Tim Roth: It was a very good restaurant.
Quint: If you had picked a worse restaurant, then maybe we wouldn’t be here now.
Tim Roth: You pitched me the story, the original idea.
Louis Leterrier: The original story I had come up with when I was in France. It was something a little different than what’s on screen now, but we were trying to… Blonsky was not… Banner, I knew what I wanted to do with him and Betty and Ross and everything, but Blonsky was the element that… I didn’t know Abomination that well from the comics. I was not much of a comic book fanboy growing up, because in France, we didn’t have these comic books, so I had to brush up on my Blonsky. It was hard for me to come up with the Russian spy and I was trying to wrap my mind around it, so we sat down and immediately…
Tim Roth: At that meeting I told you about Terry Nurtry, which you had hired before me.
Louis Leterrier: Exactly. Yeah, well… you know…
Tim Roth: You did!
Louis Leterrier: He was easier to hire.
Time Roth: Cheaper…
Louis Leterrier: He had a better resume.
Tim Roth: He was better lookin’…
Louis Leterrier: But anyway, we together came up with the idea of the soldier on the outside looking in, because we wanted him and it made so much more sense. That’s what made him interesting, like now he’s got a reason to want to transform, to want that, to fall in love with that power and it made total sense, we just had to find the right angle and I found it with him.
Tim Roth: I actually based him on somebody, the idea of him. A friend of mine, who is a socialist, who is in England now and he’s an American guy and he had two passports. He had a French passport for Peruvian reasons and he had an American passport. When he was nineteen, he became a special ops guy and he went to Vietnam. He was the guy that on his own, they would just drop in the middle of nowhere and he’d wear black pajamas and he’d be off in the mountains doing shit and then at a certain date at a certain time in a certain geographical spot, they would send a rope down from a helicopter, pull him out, and that was it. He got blown up by a grenade and bayoneted, so they hooked him out. He was so obsessed with the war as a kid, he got his French passport and went back in with a documentary crew and then became a cinefile and became a theater director and then came to me a few years later and said to me “Can we go in and do a film in the war?” (Pause, then in a high-pitched voice…) No.
Tim Roth: But he was this extraordinary guy and I remembered him, so when we were talking about how you would evolve from the Cold War through, it’s the military and they drop these guys and we don’t know what they do and when they die, they would be “hit by a car on the I-94…. We’re terribly sorry…” Meanwhile, there are bits of them all over the world. That notion of him and that notion of where we are now with Rumsfeld and the world is kind of built in in a way to what the modern sense of what Blonsky would be.
Quint: More of a Blackwater guy.
Tim Roth: Yes, a Blackwater guy who is addicted to steroids would be a good example of what he was and so those are the ideas, but then you can come up with these ideas and then you have to get them past the powers that be, which you did pretty quickly I think.
Louis Leterrier: Yeah pretty quickly. Like you said, it took some campaigning and it had to be fun. It took me a little bit of time to campaign for him, but once we got him then it was pretty easy.
Tim Roth: It was before Ed [Norton] was even on board.
Louis Leterrier: Oh yeah it was before Ed.
Quint: I have heard that when you hire Norton, that you have to kind of expect that he’s going to do rewrites as part of the package…
Louis Leterrier: That is Mr. Norton to you.
Tim Roth: It’s Mr. Norton for you, pal!
Quint: I’ve heard some stories of people calling him Ed and him not appreciating it…
Tim Roth: No, it's when people calling him Ned that he gets really pissy.
Louis Leterrier: Or Teddy-Neddy.
Tim Roth: You know what? He has a history. His history is he writes and likes to be involved in writing, that’s what he has always done since AMERICAN HISTORY X I think, right?
Louis Leterrier: It might have been before, but yeah.
Tim Roth: And he likes to be a producer which gives him some control, which if you go back to Bette Davis and those guys, that’s what they did and so an actor has power and so he likes that.
Louis Leterrier: He’s like a true collaborator, you hire a...
Tim Roth: He was always late with my rewrites, though.
Louis Leterrier: He was always late with your rewrites like [Makes different monster noises].
Tim Roth: It would say “grr,” and then we’d go “grrr,” with three Rs.
Louis Leterrier: He is like a true collaborator and then when you look at him, it’s sometimes like an actor and then you feel like sometimes he’s switching to your producer. I had done that before on UNLEASHED, where Jet Li was also the producer.
[Tim Roth turns to Kraken]
Tim Roth: Who are you? Who are you sitting quietly in the background, spying on us?
Kraken: I’m just the photobug!
Louis Leterrier: It’s fun, but weird. You talk to your actor and sometimes you see that he’s switching into producer mode and sometimes you talk to your producer and he’s like “I need some time.” It’s fun.
Tim Roth: It is kind of funny. He and William Hurt were very funny, because they have theories and I mean serious theories. William’s son had written a thesis on the HULK. His kid is a really big Hulk fan and so is William, so when he knew that William was going to do this and his dad was going to do this, he wrote this piece.
Louis Leterrier: A hundred page memoir on Ross.
Tim Roth: It was unbelievable and should be published. The two of them, William and Ed could talk until the cows fly in about this stuff, they know this stuff. They really do their stuff.
Louis Leterrier: We did “rehearsals” for three weeks and it was pretty much sitting in with Tim, Liv and I watching William and Edward talking.
Tim Roth: I had no idea what they were talking about, but they knew everything. Everything! They gave me every copy of the Hulk, with those disc things that you get.
Louis Leterrier: The DVDs…
Quint: “The disc things?”
Tim Roth: I don’t know. I’m old! My kids recognize them as silver flying disks… They gave me everything and you could go back and I found out to my sadness that the Abomination really doesn’t play much of a part in the Hulk’s history.
Louis Leterrier: I’ve got good news for you. In Red Hulk, Abomination is in Red Hulk and he can turn in and out of Abomination mode…
Tim Roth: That’s what you guys were talking about for the next… (looks at me)… thing… possibly… you don’t know anything about this!
Louis Leterrier: Which is nice, because (Tim) was very afraid that he wouldn’t be able to come back.
Tim Roth: I keep getting asked now, because people are seeing it, “Are you going to come back?” and I just say “It’s not up to me. I had to sign a three picture deal.” Basically, “If you like it, I’m coming back. If you don’t like it, I ain’t coming back.” But it’s a great character if you think about it. It can get sadder and sadder on the one level what would be interesting, I think, is if he… because he so loves the idea of it and if they do find a way of bringing him back, it’s “not as good as it fucking seemed.” There’s always though…
[Leterrier points out Roth’s tattoos]
Louis Leterrier: These tattoos are on Abomination.
Tim Roth: Are they on him? They made it in?
Louis Leterrier: Yeah, they made it in.
Tim Roth: These are my children, so I was hoping they’d be on Abomination’s arm. But I think the idea of him coming back is fun and the same with the IRON MAN.
Louis Leterrier: It’s possible.
Tim Roth: If I do it for nothing.
Quint: Less than nothing, you would have to pay them.
Tim Roth: (In a thick Cockney accent) Wait a minute!
Quint: What was your process like, because I have heard that you were very much there during the CG stuff. Did you do performance capture or…?
Tim Roth: We did a bunch of stuff, but the way these guys had set it up was that it was a movement, like if I wasn’t working on guns training or filming, you would go and work with these guys. You would work with Terry and you would work with Cyril... what’s his surname?
Louis Leterrier: Cyril Raffaelli. He’s the guy that’s in B13, the Parkour movie. He was Tim and he was also Abomination and Hulk at times, so he was the movement guy. He’s incredible and also he’s got that way of a stop and go kind of thing where he can swing right into the action.
Tim Roth: He can go vertical, which is very important, because if you think of a fight sequence in a horizontal depth, our thing was to do that with it, so you could go anywhere. You don’t open a door to go through it. Those guys were great and they were unusual and they’re not very popular quite often with stunt guys although I think they were with our guys, because they don’t know the rules. They fly.
Louis Leterrier: They know the rules, but of course you have to break the rules in order to make it look different on film.
Tim Roth: So, what you will see at the end of the film is you will see a CG sequence that involved a lot of thought and a lot of play and a lot of storyboarding, so you’ve got everything. It was a big deal, wasn’t it?
Louis Leterrier: You know what’s amazing about him and Edward also, but you especially on your unit… Tim and I, we clicked like “Boom, that’s it.”
Tim Roth: I went through an action movie where I’m not tired of him.
Louis Leterrier: The idea was like I had so much stuff to do that I couldn’t go to training and I couldn’t be specific, so I trusted Tim like he was in my brain and I trusted Cyril, because I work with him and Terry because he has worked with him, so I said “OK, go do your stuff. Go come up with some great moves and then together we will decide what we really want,” so I left him on his own and he had his own unit, like he was directing it and...
Tim Roth: We had fun. The thing is, I learned this from Tim Burton when we did PLANET OF THE APES, which was not the most successful movie in the world, but…
Louis Leterrier: It was your fault.
Tim Roth: But it was incredible fun and the idea… I remember Helena Bonham Carter always said to me “but you didn’t do anything, because it was always your double.” What the system that Tim Burton worked out with me was a very important one for actors to understand, is that if you have a stunt double who is working for you, then he is you, so if the director should direct you and then to a certain extent you should direct the stunt double, because he has to be you, so when the director is off doing whatever he has to do, which is a lot, you can go “OK that walk is not right, you can’t do that... and what about this… and can you do this?” So your character starts to have different possibilities where as you normally think linear and that’s why I was thinking Helena was wrong and you have to be very, very careful that you keep… The audience is not supposed to see the lie and the lie has to be perfectly formed. It’s a scam, like that movie THE STING. It’s like nobody is supposed to know and we did that and Patrick, our Toronto stunt guy, was a wonderful double for me as well and he was good at one thing and Cyril was good at another thing and Terry was good at another thing and they all conspire to bullshit you and hopefully it works.
Louis Leterrier: And also, I don’t know if you’ve done it before, but I like putting my actors in trouble, like in danger and put him in, like you will there is this super running and he is the guy running very fast. We just put him on the cable and he’d be off.
Tim Roth: But he fucked himself, though, because the next stunt I had to do, I couldn’t do because my legs had fallen off.
Tim Roth: [Acting in pain] Can’t make it! Can’t do it.
Louis Leterrier: It was great.
Tim Roth: It was such fun! I have to say I came off the worst experiences I’ve had as an actor, and in a way one of the best, with FUNNY GAMES. Best because it taught me things about myself that I had never known to this and this was game playing. This was really fun and we had… Your experience was huge going in, but mine was small, but the fun that we had and then we wrapped in Brazil. It was just brilliant.
Louis Leterrier: Brazil was nuts. You will see, we start there, but it’s nuts. It’s just nuts to shoot there.
Tim Roth: But it was worth it.
Louis Leterrier: It was worth it.
Tim Roth: There is nothing I have seen that is like that, because you couldn’t have built that.
Louis Leterrier: You couldn’t have built that and also just the vibe of being there put us in such a good mood.
Tim Roth: The locals were amazing.
Quint: And there’s something… I can’t tell since I haven’t seen the film, but there is something about doing a location shoot that works. I love that in movies, where the lighting is just different and in different places, so it’s a feel you can’t really replicate on stage and that’s kind of the problem with the new Indiana Jones movie.
Tim Roth: There’s something about that South American light, where if you think about things like CITY OF GOD and that, it’s the texture. I know he’s playing around in a lab, but there’s something… there’s a clarity in the light which lends itself to being abroad.
Louis Leterrier: We went there during rain season, so it was raining there everyday and I was expecting “Brazil!” [Makes loud noise like water rushing]
Tim Roth: “We got two days of sun and I was on the beach.” That was fantastic fun.
Quint: So, what do you guys have coming up next?
Tim Roth: I’m going to go direct KING LEAR, (Louis)’s going to be playing Lear. I don’t know, but I think I’m off to go play, I think, a fundamentalist Christian evangelical preacher who is caught with his pants down.
Tim Roth: And becomes a left wing politician and then I’m going to do a Chinese thriller.
Louis Leterrier: With who? Tell! Say it! Say it!
Quint: Yeah, tell me.
Tim Roth: The deal is being done, but it looks like I’m off with Chow Yun Fat.
Louis Leterrier: And Johnny To!
Tim Roth: And Johnny To.
Quint: That’s really cool.
Louis Leterrier: Johnny To and Tim Roth!!!
Tim Roth: And the rewrites are in. (Quiet) And it’s lookin’ good!
Quint: I was just in Romania on a movie set and some of the crew were talking about Tarantino’s INGLORIOUS BASTARDS, which you’ve been tied to, and that it is actually going forward.
Tim Roth: I’ve been hearing that since I got back from Romania with (Frances Ford) Coppola and all... but yeah if Quentin wants me, I’ll show up. If he doesn’t want me it’s OK, because we’ve been talking about that since RESERVOIR DOGS really and things change. We are still very close, but I don’t know if I’m still young enough for that character. I know the character and I know the movie and it’s good, but it’s not the Hong Kong thing. Its heart is in Europe and it’s very interesting.
Quint: He’s talked about it and how much he loves Kelly’s Heroes and…
Tim Roth: I know where he is going now and have heard some little rumor things and it’s very cool and if I can do it, I’ll do it. If he wants me to do it, I’ll do it and if he doesn’t, it’s OK, I’ll be his tea boy. I absolutely don’t care. He saved my life basically, so he’s a good guy. But yeah what are you doing?
Louis Leterrier: I don’t know, I hope Hulk 23 straight to video with Edward Norton’s son. I don’t know yet. For the first time in my life, I don’t know what I’m doing afterwards.
Tim Roth: You moved and you are here now. You are in America.
Louis Leterrier: I have moved to America. The Frenchie has a place in Hollywood, right underneath the Hollywood sign. I just don’t know, but like he said it was for me twenty hour days.
Tim Roth: He did twenty-four hour days at one point. It was hilarious. It was his own fault, where he would do night shoots with Ed and then over on the independent groovy unit, we were doing day shoots, so he would come from one to the other and then snooze in-between takes. He had to maintain control.
Louis Leterrier: It’s tough when you have like two or three units, then it’s really tough to do that. I’m used to shooting my action stuff by myself, so I was like… I wanted to shoot it all
Tim Roth: This is my first action movie, by the way. I’ve never done one before.
Louis Leterrier: You might do another one. You’re not that bad… I mean, your body does have limits, but…
Tim Roth: Apparently my body is really good in the movie. I’ve been told. The LA TIMES guy said, “So… you got really fit for the movie…” and I said “No, I didn’t really. I chose my body.” I had done this thing were we were pissing around ideas about what kind of body he would have for the next… you’ll see, but I said I wanted to be the guy out of DAY OF THE JACKAL. Edward Fox, who was fucking amazing and had that nasty lean vicious young body and he went “Yeah, a bit Bruce Lee too.” They had made the mixture and the guy from the LA TIMES went “That’s it! That’s it. That’s what it is.” Yes I did that, its all my own work.
Quint: I need to get into movies now.
Tim Roth: Yeah, yeah! It was fucking great!
Louis Leterrier: Well, let’s go see the movie now! It was good meeting you.
Quint: Yes. Nice meeting you.