A few days before Patty Jenkin’s Wonder Woman was in theaters, I sat down with Danny Huston for an exclusive interview. During our wide-ranging conversation he talked about how he got involved in the project, if he was a fan of the superhero genre, how Jenkins pitched him on playing General Erich Ludendorff, memorable moments from filming, and the way he likes to work on set. In addition, he talked about directing The Last Photograph, what he learned from his father (John Huston) about directing, playing Hal Roach in Stan and Ollie opposite Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly, and a lot more.
Check out what he had to say below. Written by Allan Heinberg with a story by Zack Snyder & Heinberg and Jason Fuchs, Wonder Woman stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, David Thewlis, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Ewen Bremner, Lucy Davis, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Eugene Brave Rock, and Saïd Taghmaoui.
Collider: The superhero genre is the most popular genre on the planet. Had you been approached, or had you been interested in doing a superhero movie prior to this one. How did this come about for you?
DANNY HUSTON: I wasn’t. I was in London, I was editing a film that I just finished directing and I got a call that Patty Jenkins wanted to meet me, she’s making Wonder Woman. I had dinner with her a good hour and a half, two hour dinner and she told me the story. Then she brought up General Ludendorff, looked him up and she showed me some photographs that sort of down turned mouth that he has, and sort of stubborn arrogance and we delved in a little bit more, as far as who he is and was as I said he was a General in the first World War. A pragmatist, realist, patriotic, fighting for his country, he lost his son on the German front lines and was just quite tortured, diabolical, stubborn and believes that what he’s doing is for the betterment of mankind.
Like all good villains.
HUSTON: Yeah, and the interesting angle that she had in regards to Ludendorff is that through the eyes of this demigod Wonder Woman, belongs to Greek Mythology we examine mankind and mankind’s weaknesses. Ludendorff is a believer that war is a natural habitat for humans, and in that sense it’s a little bit of a cautionary tale and Greek Mythology works in those terms in so far as being able to examine what we are and what we’re about, and what our weaknesses are and the danger of war. I think this is an anti-war film, and somebody like Ludendorff would probably think that the idea that love conquers all is quite a naïve concept. But finally it’s true and sometimes the best way to examine mankind is from another perspective, and that’s where Greek Mythology works.
Had you seen a lot of the comic book movies prior to getting involved in Wonder Woman, were you a fan of the genre?
HUSTON: I’m a fan of the genre, but I wasn’t really that knowledgeable in regards to Wonder Woman. I knew the theme and I had some sort of memory of the lasso and the invisible airplane, which we don’t have in this version but Patty Jenkins was very committed to giving this a sense of realism in regards to mankind, human nature. Even though we were entering through a fantastical world.
When you think back on the making of the film, is there a day or two that you will always remember, memorable moments from filming?
HUSTON: Well yeah, I was very nervous about waltzing with Gal Gadot because I wanted to impress her. I wanted to impress her as Wonder Woman, and I wanted to impress Gal as well. So that was a nerve-wracking day for me, because not only did I want to impress her, but I also wanted to remember my lines. I didn’t want to disappoint anybody, but I certainly wanted to impress Gal and I did my best. After a few takes, I was like a fighter in the sort of 10th round, literally hanging on her neck and she managed to keep me upright and looking powerful. But that in a way was my most challenging day.
Concerning your work as an actor: some actors prefer to film the rehearsal, do the Clint Eastwood method, filming the rehearsal, do two takes, we’re done. And others really enjoy the David Fincher method of 50 takes, and doing it as many times as they can. How do you typically like to work?
HUSTON: Once I feel I’ve got it right I don’t like to repeat, but sometimes it takes me a long time to get there, and sometimes it doesn’t. What I’ve discovered working with quite a few directors in my career now that there really are no rules. There is no one way to achieve something and you are as an actor, stepping into the vision of the director, and there to serve that vision. Things that you might think of as obstacles, you try to make them work to your advantage and as long as you are observant enough and not too self involved, usually you can navigate that. Every film is another world entirely, requires different part of your talent.