WonderCon! Christopher Nolan and INCEPTION! THE LOSERS! NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and Chris Evans' crazy Captain America arms!!!
Published at: April 4, 2010, 5:40 a.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with my thoughts on the big Warner Bros panel at WonderCon. This panel covered THE LOSERS, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, SPLICE and, in a surprise addition, INCEPTION.
The Losers opened the panel and they showed an extended sequence where Jeffrey Dean Morgan meets Zoe Saldana and they proceed to kick each others’ ass in a hotel room in a scene that plays almost like a violent courting ritual. Sensual and sexual… with punching, ramming each other into walls and setting fire to the room.
The cast all came out including Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Columbus Short, Oscar Jaenada, director Sylvain White and Chris Evans… who, for some reason seemed to have been undergoing some serious weight training…
Look at them Captain America guns! Kee-ryst!
There weren’t any really memorable audience questions to the cast, but I will say that of the footage they showed (the above clip and an extended trailer) Evans came out the best. There’s a scene where Aisha (Saldana) is in the middle of a Mexican stand-off with all the Losers and has her gun trained on his crotch.
He pleads to her not to point the gun at his dick, a terrified tremble in his voice. She considers and raises the aim to his head and Morgan asks, “Is that better?” and he says, “Not really.” It’s an okay scene, but Evans really sells it.
The extended trailer also has a longer version of the “using fingers as guns” scene that ends the trailer and it works so much better in the longer cut, again due to Evans’ near insane diatribe about being a powerful telepath created by the government, getting a laugh from the armed guards until he goes “Pow!” and one goes flying backwards. “Pow!” then another and the guy in the middle drops his gun and runs, leaving Evans to give the okay sign out the window and we get that shot from the trailer going through his fingers, the bullet hole in the glass and up to Oscar Jaenada at the sniper rifle across the way.
I’m not sure what the whole is going to be, but if you’re interested in more Losers reports, I have a couple set visit pieces posting next week from my own exclusive couple of days on the set featuring interviews with Zoe Saldana, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Sylvain White.
Next up was A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. The director, Samuel Bayer, was absent, but we did get most of the cast including Jackie Earle Haley (Freddy), Katie Cassidy (Kris… the new Tina), Thomas Dekker, Kyle Gallner and Rooney Mara (Nancy).
They showed a scene from the flick, the full version of the scene that opens the trailer, with the dude that falls asleep at the diner.
Watching the full scene a few things stood out to me, details that I hope indicate a very thoughtful reboot of the series. For instance, whenever the guy falls asleep the light changes, grows darker and the flashing neon from the diner sign is exaggerated and alternately flashing red and green, Freddy’s colors.
When we jump into the scene the waitress walks by as he asks for more coffee. She ignores him and he follows her into the kitchen which is filled with chopped up animals, mostly pigs. Pig heads were everywhere! And the stove’s flames are crazy high.
The dude hears a screech behind him and the instant he turns around Freddy’s glove drops into frame. The camera stays on it as Freddy approaches the turned back of the victim. Two of the claws rub together almost excitedly, as if the anticipation of the kill is getting to Freddy.
Sensing something, the guy spins around and there’s nothing there. Instead Freddy pops up next to him (causing screams from the crowd in the ballroom) and slashes down, cutting his hand as he jerks awake, the waitress giving the line from the trailer about how he’s going to be kicked out if he keeps falling asleep.
Turns out the waitress is Nancy, the guy is her best friend, Kris’, newly ex-boyfriend. Nancy takes the guy’s plate. It’s bloody, but he apparently ate a steak, so she doesn’t notice it’s coming from his hand. He does, though, and patches it up quickly.
Kris comes into the diner to talk with the troubled guy. We find he has been awake (or trying to stay awake) for 3 days and she mistakes it as a kind of insomnia, asking him to get it checked out, to go a psychiatrist.
He did, apparently, and he was able to trace the nightmares back to his childhood, but then the dreams changed and became real. His sleep-deprived caffeine jitters cause him to spill his coffee cup. When Kris leaves to clean up the guy puts his head in his hands. Mistake.
The lighting changes again and suddenly it’s back to nightmare land, red and green pulsing diner lights. Except this time it’s not a stalking. Almost immediately Freddy is upon him. The guy grabs his steak knife and tries to use it to defend himself, but Freddy immediately turns it around on him.
Nancy and Kris see the guy standing up, struggling, but from their point of view it just looks like he’s holding the knife up to his throat. Kris pleads with him not to do it, but the knife goes into his jugular.
In this final tussle we got a really good look at Freddy and I’m liking the lower half of the face more and more, but the way the burns sit around the eyes almost make him look cat-like. I’m not sure I like that too much, but we’ll see how it all works in context.
Here are the tidbits from the Q&A with the cast:
- Jackie Earle Haley paid tribute to Robert Englund and how daunting it was to step into the part because the character’s so iconic and has only ever been embodied by one actor.
- When asked about how he got the part, Haley said he was asked by the producers and found out “some of you guys suggested me for the part. I guess you think I’m kinda creepy or somethin’.” He got a laugh.
- Rooney Mara made a joke about some of the role reversals in the movie.“Kyle (Gallner) kind of plays the damsel in distress.”
- Mara on the changes to her character from the original. “Our Nancy’s slightly darker than the original Nancy. She’s a tortured, lonely soul.”
- Katie Cassidy never saw the original film and I think the implication was she still hasn’t seen it. I’m fucking old.
- Thomas Dekker, on the other hand, said he was “obsessed” with the original film from his early childhood viewings of it.
- Haley rewatched the original film, but didn’t watch any of the sequels because of the comedic tone the series took.
- He was very clear that he studied the original film again, but it was more a tonal study. He remembered seeing the movie in the theaters and loved the feeling of the film and the way Freddy felt. He didn’t want to study Englund’s performance too closely, but wanted t make sure he had the basics so the character would be recognizable. Haley didn’t want to imitate Englund and hoped to be free enough to make the character his own.
- Haley also said there is some slight humor to Freddy, but he’s no jokester. He even said they might be taking it more seriously in tone than even the original movie.
- It was a very physical shoot for Jackie. “The make-up was a real challenge. It started at 6 hours.” That was in the early days of applying the prosthetics, when they were still playing with the design of the make-up and testing various artistic application. They soon got the make-up application down to 3 ½ hours and it took an hour to get out of it every day.
- Freddy’s glove isn’t just a slip on. It went on in pieces and had to be secured by crew members with screwdrivers applying every claw. So, after the glove was put on it stayed on for a while.
- Haley said “Thankfully I never cut myself! Nobody got cut on the movie…” to much protest from Kyle Gallner, who apparently got sliced in the belly once during the shoot. Haley just shrugged.
- For prep, director Samuel Bayer sent Haley a detailed book of serial killers, but he found getting into that headspace was personally torturous and it wasn’t until he realized that Freddy isn’t a real world serial killer, but a boogeyman, that he was able to dive fully into the character.
- SPOILER Dekker also fielded a question about the most exciting thing about doing the movie and dropped a big spoiler. “My most exciting scene is when I get killed. Hope you like it!” I’m sure the producers loved that. END SPOILER
The Nightmare team said their good-byes and Vincenzo Natali came out to show some stuff from Splice. I felt a bit bad for Vincenzo because after all the star-powered presentations it was just him with a movie very few of the audience had even heard of at this point.
Vincenzo’s passion was clear, but I could tell the audience wasn’t connecting to him. The footage got some screams, though, so that’s good.
I have an interview with him that covers most of what he said on the panel and if you really want to read up on the movie, you can check out my Sundance review here.
Then the big surprise of the WB panel was sprung on us.
Christopher Nolan came out and introduced some footage from INCEPTION.
I don’t mind recalling the blow by blow of the footage shown from Nightmare, but I’m finding it really difficult to put to words just what I saw in the Inception footage… I also feel more pressure in doing it justice because it was significantly awesome.
Part of the trouble is that they didn’t show a scene, but a sizzle reel. My memory of it is filled with many impressions, but nothing very coherent.
The footage started with Leonardo DiCaprio talking to someone (I think it was Ellen Page) about ideas. He’s escorting her, gun out, through a hall and is talking about ideas growing. At a certain point they will “either define you or destroy you.”
DiCaprio had another scene where he was talking to Ken Watanabe trying to sell him “subconscious security,” essentially a protection package to guarantee the golden ideas his subconscious thinks up wouldn’t be stolen by people just like DiCaprio, who is apparently the best.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt looks to be playing DiCaprio’s right hand man in all this.
The imagery was beautiful, but not super crazy by this point, but as the footage progressed we got images crazier and crazier… People floating in hallways, being tied up by (I think) Gordon-Levitt’s character. There was also a chase down a mountain on skis and a gunfight in the snow where DiCaprio tells someone firing a nice-sized automatic rifle “You mustn’t be afraid to dream of a bigger gun,” as he raises a rather ridiculously big gun that has a large round chamber and fires off huge shells.
Ending with a bang, we see this crazy world falling apart around DiCaprio. The whole city seems to be turned on its head, falling into the ocean.
There were glimpses of Michael Caine, Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphy and Dileep Rao and all looked great.
Nolan took a seat with his wife and producer Emma Thomas and fielded some questions.
Now, Nolan was a bit dry, but his passion was undeniable. The dude is a visual geek and commented a lot on visually executing his pictures. In terms of effects he always tries to get as much in camera as possible. He acknowledged the movies he grew up caring about might play into that a little, but he truly feels that when an effect is tangible a real relationship between the actor and the world (and the effect and the audience) is easier to achieve.
A lot of the gravity defying sets, built for real, were inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s 2001. Nolan admitted to being fascinated by that concept when he saw 2001 and wanted to recreate his version of that kind of in-camera trickery (my word, not his).
Surprisingly, Nolan let loose a few details about the story. Tread carefully, I have no idea how much of the below is spoilery, but knowing how tightlipped Nolan is, I’d wager this is just the tip of the iceberg.
The idea that hit Nolan a while back, the seedling that turned into this movie, was his realization that while dreaming the mind is creating a world and experiencing it simultaneously. “There’s something there,” he said, but it wasn’t until he put that idea behind the framework of a heist picture that things started locking into place.
Nolan said Inception is a heist film about a group of people that creates dreams for people, bring them in and then steal their subconscious ideas.
What I’m still unclear about is if DiCaprio and his team are these morally tricky guys or if they’re policing this reality.
Nolan also said that DiCaprio’s addition to the cast was central to bringing the part some humanity. From the sounds of things it could have read very cold on the page.
When asked about his influences, Nolan responded with Stanley Kubrick, Nicolas Roeg, Terence Malick and seeing Star Wars when he was a kid. But biggest of them all, he said Ridley Scott and specifically BLADE RUNNER, which he said “I bring that movie in with me on every film I make.”
Those were his big inspirations, but he said that now he draws inspiration more from real life than the movie life.
When asked about 3-D, Nolan said he’s a tech-head, so he’s intrigued, but feels that 2-D and 3-D are misnomers since 2-D filmmaking isn’t flat, but shot to represent a 3-D view already. You could tell he was upset at the 3-D trend saying there’s real misinformation and hype about the direction the industry is actually going on.
Inception was shot 35mm animorphic, but he believes the very best way to capture an image is 65mm 5-perf film. There are sequences shot with the IMAX cameras in Inception, but as a project he didn’t feel it was right to use it to push the format because he wanted to have the freedom to be more loose with this film.
The example he gave was he wanted to have a camera skiing down behind some of the main characters during a big chase over snow. “Even I wouldn’t make a cameraman do that with an IMAX camera!”
When asked by a fan saying he’s created a lot of twisted male characters if he’ll ever give us a really great twisted female character he grinned and said to watch out for Cotillard in Inception. He wouldn’t go into any details, but said “She plays an extremely complicated individual.”
That was about it on that panel. I’m exhausted and will come back tomorrow with my thoughts on the Disney panel! See you guys for that one!
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