Published at: Aug. 4, 2008, 1:24 p.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here getting caught up on my Comic-Con interviews. Got quite a few to go, but up first is McG. From what I gather this was the only 1:1 interview he gave to an online outlet. I saw him sitting down 1:1 with Anne Thompson from Variety, so believe me when I say I don’t view myself as special because of it, but it should be a unique chat with him since it wasn’t part of a roundtable.
I wasn’t sure how this interview was going to go. I had heard he wasn’t happy about the ending spoiler that ran on the site and that he was even less happy about the McSpaced articles.
Yet he still sat down with us. Immediately I got the same feeling as I did watching him speak during the panel. He seemed to be trying really, really hard to say the right things and prove himself to the fans. Does he succeed? Well give it a read and let me know.
Quint: I think TERMINATOR 2 was the first movie I saw more than once in the theater. I dragged my parents to go see it again and again. So you grow up and you have that world in your mind, but I actually do like the idea that something is off and that it’s not exactly what John Connor was told, that they changed something within the line up.
McG: Oh yeah, I mean to me that is what makes it worthwhile. Things have changed and the future that his mother has told him about is not the future that he is presented with today and that is in the spirit that the future is indeed malleable, which was established very cleanly in the first and second picture, so yeah we just wanted to create a world that was credible and felt properly post apocalyptic, but listen; no two films shaped my life more than the first two TERMINATOR pictures. The first one scared the shit out of me and the second one made me want to be a director. I mean when Robert Patrick’s head came apart and the T-1000 liquid metal coming back together and doing what it does… Shit, I put Robert Patrick in two out of the first few movies I made. It was that big of an influence on me, so I’m really passionate about that whole idea.
Quint: Now this is supposed to be setup like the beginning of a series of films, right?
McG: Well naturally, but I would never presume that this would be so well received to warrant a sequel. That’s the idea and Christian (Bale) and I have arched out three movies and what we want to do with it, but…
Quint: So do you see it progressing as they get closer and closer to the year that we have seen, that it looks more like what we know of the future war?
McG: As they get closer to 2029, it starts to look more like that indeed. This is 2018, so we studied Chernobyl… We talked to the scientists. We talked to the futurists. We talked to the environmentalists. “What does the world look like after it has destroyed itself?” “How long do you need to be under ground?” “What did the Geiger meter say?” “What are the hot zones?” “What are the cool zones?” “What is nuclear winter all about?” That’s the world we came up with and we developed our own film stock, we are treating it with three times as much silver as color film is traditionally treated with and the interest of giving it that ethereal look that… I’m hoping to capture the visual language of the Cormack McCarthy book THE ROAD.
I gave it to all of the actors and said, “Get your head right, this is an existential experience walking through these David Lean landscapes where it’s strange and you can’t quite shake the fog out of the cockpit,” so that what certainly the goal, but it felt pretty damn good to show it to a literate discriminate crowd and see them stand up and cheer and hoot and holler and make noise to that degree, because it’s certainly their privilege to reject you. It was very, very rewarding and my style on this picture has been very transparent, I wanted to have a look at that future war that you speak of, probably just like you, there was no reason to make TERMINATOR 4. I just wanted to go after judgment day to see Connor fighting that war itself, because it’s only ever alluded to in such small snippets.
McG: I wanted to get after that and who better than Bale, who I regard as the most professional, talented actor of his generation to lead the way.
Quint: Well not only that, but he also shares a little bit of the continuity with TERMINATOR 2, because he looks a lot like the actor…
McG: Yeah, it’s not such a big stretch.
Quint: When you see him, at least in this one, I can see him as that guy, so if you are watching the Terminator films…
McG: Well the funny thing is that we go to such great lengths to show where all of this came from. I mean we literally have Connor using the same computer device that he hacks an ATM machine, hacks the door at Cyberdine, he uses to hack SkyNet, you know what I mean? Its little things like that that show you not only is he a physical guy, he is also a clever guy.
Also the Kyle Reese bits and pieces… Kyle Reese in his string shoulder holster for his shotgun… Where did that come from? It actually came from the Marcus character and every thing that goes with that and some of the lines of “Pain can be controlled, you just disconnect it.” The genesis of that line and where it went when Reese said that to Sarah Connor.
As much story density as possible, just lots and lots of conversations with Jim Cameron… Lots of conversations with Arnold Schwarzenegger, obviously brining in Stan Winston and even in his passing keeping his core guys like John Rosengrant and everybody else as close as possible to the picture in the interest of honoring the passionate fan base, because… you know, I get it, I’m not the natural choice to make this film and I really want to shed myself of the past and show growth and grow as a film maker and use a completely different cinematic language, really really study the mythology and make sure that I was coming from a place of responsibility as to deliver and you know, you do that by hiring Christian. You do that by having Jonah Nolan write the picture and hopefully you take steps in the right direction and it certainly felt like today was a big shot in the ass as far as getting it right.
Quint: So much is really contingent upon the visual landmarks and by bringing in Winston… I can’t imagine that there is even a consideration of going somewhere else, because he is…
McG: There wasn’t for me, yeah and it’s just so funny, because he and I went through so much and he did the Superman suit when I was doing SUPERMAN and I was afraid of flying at the time and I couldn’t fly down to Australia and I got thrown off of the movie. He and I bonded over that really extensively and then he and I had a movie called ME AND MY MONSTER, which was about Stan as a kid and his imaginary monster friends and we connected very deeply over that and then of course this.
He was around for the first year of prepping it and his passing was just crushing, but strangely poetic and beautiful and it is my intention to dedicate the picture to his memory, certainly. He is everywhere and it’s really his picture in that respect. How are you feeling about Sam Worthington?
Quint: Well, it’s hard to tell from the clips. I really want to see him in a big meaty scene, but I can’t believe that James Cameron would be wrong casting him in a lead, so I have so much faith in that and I don’t know if I have seen anything else that he has done.
McG: He did a picture called Somersault, which I like very much.
Quint: Oh, yeah.
McG: But it was my going down and working with him on AVATAR that really brought the confidence required to make the move and talking to Jim about it and away we go, but yeah I mean the interesting thing is also just the tactile reality of the world. In that whole thing we showed there was one visual effects shot. In four minutes of film and the cut was moving pretty quickly, it felt like a trailer and there is one shot with visual effects. Every single thing is practical and in camera. I don’t want my actors talking to C stands with tennis balls on them.
I want everything to feel real and be emotional and I give you my world, Bale could give a frog’s fat ass about explosions and visual effects, he wants it to work if as if he went with you across the proscenium on a naked stage and just read it. He needs to work from a place of character and “How is this character different at the end of the picture than he was at the beginning of the picture?”
Quint: I can tell you from the fan perspective, getting Bale to be in the movie gave it such a vote of confidence almost.
McG: Yeah, I thought that was required, because I certainly didn’t bring that on my own and that doesn’t bother me, because I have talked before about how you have to be Spicoli before you can become Sean Penn and you have to be on HAPPY DAYS before you become Ron Howard and on and on and on. You have to be on 21 JUMP STREET before you become Depp and do what you do and show people what your true colors really are and I’m willing to pay my dues and keep my nose to the grindstone, but the McG of yesterday is dead.
I’m just looking forward to making this picture that poses ethical challenges to the audience without being preachy, but in the spirit of the first MATRIX picture or BLADE RUNNER, where yeah it was enjoyable on a “Let’s watch it level and then you and I can go spend four years in a graduate class talking about it.”
Quint: Or write books about it…
McG: Right on and that’s the intention of this movie and we will see. I think that Charlie Gibson is going to bring the machines to life in a way that you would never imagine. We have machines on the scale of TRANSFORMERS, you know what I mean, but they look like they Giger machines from ALIEN and I think that can be incredible if done properly, it’s just too early to talk about it, because we haven’t rendered all of that stuff yet, but Charlie is a pretty capable guy and we will see what he comes with.
Quint: It’s all about… Listen, fans are a little gunshy, we keep seeing the stuff we have grown up with done into haphazard or down right shitty movies… The prequels or even INDY 4 to an extent… We see things like ALIENS VS. PREDATOR…
McG: I accept that completely. You have got to understand, I am the fan. I am that guy, too. I’m not some other guy on the other side of the line. I’m the guy in the movie theater. I don’t have a screening room, I go to the theater every Friday night to see the opening pictures and that’s just who I am. I spent my entire childhood in and out of the theaters and I am that guy and I don’t like feeling ripped off and I think in the time of Alfonso Cuaron and Del Toro and certainly Chris Nolan and David Fincher, we are living in a great time for filmmaking and there is a chance for the biggest movies to be the best movies, like when I was a kid and you were a kid and you saw STAR WARS and it changed your life.
You realize the Joseph Campbell components and the depth of the film, but the fun of the film and the originality of the film. Let’s return to that where you don’t have to apologize for a summer movie. That’s certainly the goal, but I mean who is to know? We are only halfway through photography, but I’ve been burned just like you and I am very very aware of that and I’m not jumping up and down saying “We have done it! It’s in the bag!” I am saying though however “It seems to feel quite good.” It feels quite good and just to get that response that we just got…
People aren’t looking to give you that, especially me. Everybody is so hung up on my fucking stupid name, “What kind of a faggot calls himself “McG?” “I hate this guy, I’ll never get behind him.” Stuff like that is difficult to take, because I would be false if I went back on that and I’ve been called that since the day I was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, I can’t change that now…
Quint: I mean, you just have to understand that it’s the knee jerk when we hear stuff like the rumors of the PG-13 and people are looking for any excuse to go “This is going to be another AVP. This is going to be another something that ruins what I grew up with.”
McG: I get it and you know, listen AVP could have been great, whatever, I’m not here to talk about that, but I meant what I said about… There are two people in this world that care about the rating, Jeff Robinoff, who was sitting in the front row who runs Warner Brothers and Jeff Blake, who was sitting in the front row, who runs Sony. Sony is releasing the picture internationally, Jeff’s releasing it domestically and both of them are like “Let the rating be what the rating is.”
Having said that, I’m not going to back off the notion of “Should it be PG-13?” Who gives a shit? I thought THE DARK KNIGHT was made without compromise. It got a PG 13 rating. If there were more gore or more horror to some respect, I don’t know if the picture would be more desirable to me and you. I thought it was a master work and I walk away…
Quint: It’s true to that story. I think that the worry is that this movie is a future war film that is worried about a rating, but if you are not worried about the rating, that might be a different story.
McG: We are not worried at all about the rating and like I said, the only two people that would be were here today and they are not either. They’re the only ones who would be busting my chops going “Hey, we have got to hit that number. We have got to hit that rating” and they don’t care.
[The PR woman walks up and end the interview.]
Quint: I really appreciate you sitting down and…
McG: I’m delighted. I really enjoy the site. I read you all of the time everyday. I mean every column, you know how it is like everybody does. JJ and I talk about it all of the time, the whole thing and just it’s my favorite site, what can I tell you, so enjoy!
Quint: Thank you!
McG: Whenever you want, come out and watch the movie.
McG: Yeah, let’s look at some scenes, I agree trailers are bullshit, anybody can cut a good trailer, but come on and check it out. You are more than welcome whenever you want and I’m not kidding.
Quint: Alright. I just might take you up on that.
As you can see (and hear) McG is trying his hardest to prove his worth to us, the fans. It felt sincere to me, but as the old-timers say the proof is in the pudding. I want him to make an awesome movie and he’s got himself a great crew to achieve that goal, but we won’t know if he has it in him until we see the picture.
The only thing he said in the interview that put me off was comparing TERMINATOR: SALVATION to THE DARK KNIGHT in terms of rating. I agree that THE DARK KNIGHT didn’t need anything else to push a higher rating, but at the same time it wasn’t built on a successful R-rated franchise. Plus a PG-13 rated Future War Terminator movie just doesn’t feel right to me.
But I meant what I said when I told him that if he truly is making the film without a rating in mind then that’s a different story. I don’t know how possible that is, to not know if your film is possibly going to be rated R by this point, but it’s all conjecture at this point.
We have to see more. I think Moriarty did a set visit, so I don’t know if I’ll take him up on his offer, but it’d be an interesting set to visit, I’m sure... especially if it was to actually watch some of the dramatic scenes put together.
What are your impressions?