We sat down with Michele Mulroney and Kieran Mulroney today to talk about their new movie, Paper Man, an inspirational comedic drama about an unlikely friendship between Richard (Jeff Daniels), a failed middle-aged novelist who has never quite grown up and Abby (Emma Stone), a 17-year-old girl whose role in a family tragedy years earlier has stolen away her youth. While we’ll have the full transcript online soon, with Michele and Kieran writing the sequel to Sherlock Holmes (which is again being directed by Guy Ritchie), we got an update on that project. They talk about how they got the writing assignment, their love of the character, their favorite Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes story, and their thoughts on Brad Pitt possibly playing Professor Moriarty…
Hit the jump for what they had to say:
Collider: You’re currently writing the sequel to Sherlock Holmes?
KM: We are. In fact, we were just doing that this morning.
MM: We were just doing that this morning before we got here. Yes, we are. We’re deep in that and it’s very, very exciting and interesting and a challenge.
KM: It’s going to be a fun movie.
MM: It’s going to be a fun movie. I grew up with those Conan Doyle books. So, for me, to be involved in writing this is so great. These characters have always been part of my childhood. The Watson and Holmes characters are just delicious. Of course, we have those two great actors to bring them to life – Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. It’s a really interesting process we’re neck deep in right now. (Laughs)
How did you get that project?
KM: Paper Man is the completely other side of the scale from what we do. We’ve spent a bunch of years writing studio films. Warner Bros., particularly, has been very good to us. They hire us to do all kinds of things.
MM: A lot of uncredited script doctoring is on our resume so most people don’t know about it. We’ve worked on a lot of fun, big, old fat studio projects for the last 5 years so that’s kind of our day job. It’s what we do and we love to do. It’s a huge challenge and these are smart people we get to work with in the studio system so we love it. You know, they just came to us and said, “Do you want to do the sequel?” and we were like, “Yes.”
The studio came to you?
Do you write the script with a budget in mind or do you write the script and then change it based on the budget?
KM: (Laughs) Here’s what usually happens. After we write our first draft, they always ask us to take $30-$50 million out of it.
MM: We always write too big.
KM: We tend to write big action sequence stuff. It’ll still be a nice big whopping studio film. The story is they offered us the job. We came back to them with a story that they liked. It’s just a process of finding with the director, the actors, the producers, the studio, a place where everybody is happy and wants to go to work. We’re in the middle of that. I think everybody’s happy and I think they all want to go to work. It’s really an intensely collaborative process when you’re in the studio system with a movie that has an expectation of going into production, which is great. We love working with directors. Guy Ritchie is a hoot and I think a really talented visual director who did a wonderful job on the first one.
MM: He’s really great.
Were you writing the sequel while the first one was in post production?
KM: We started before it was released but after they had finished production.
MM: I think there’s always an appetite, if possible, to do more with the stories and the characters because there’s just so much stuff to mine. It’s really fun and the thing that you realize every day is that it’s really no different whether you’re writing Paper Man at $4 million or Sherlock Holmes at a lot more than $4 million.
KM: That’s right.
MM: I mean it’s still story and characters and dialogue. It’s the same process. It’s the same exact process.
KM: Although with a lot more stuff that blows up.
MM: (Laughs) Yeah, and a tiny bit more pressure.
KM: Yes, with a little bit more pressure. (Laughs) Exactly.
MM: A little bit more pressure.
Do you have a favorite Sherlock Holmes story out of all the short stories that Conan Doyle wrote?
KM: I’m a Speckled Band guy.
MM: The Speckled Band is a good, really old school, classic Holmes story.
KM: “The Adventure of the Red-Headed League.” That’s sort of deep in the canon. I love it because it actually has to do with … it’s a theft crime where they’re hiring ginger-haired men. They’re luring people in by sending out notices that say “If you have red hair,” which of course in England is looked down upon still to this day, “then join our club.” And then, that club becomes a front for a criminal enterprise.
MM: It’s very silly.
KM: Yeah. It’s such a bizarre and old fashioned thing. We’re not making a version of The Red-Headed League, by the way. (Laughs)
MM: (Laughs) By the way, don’t worry.
KM: It’s not going to show up in the movie.
MM: The stories are very old school and creaky and weird, but so completely compelling and very inventive. The plots are just really seductive.
What do you think about Brad Pitt possibly playing Professor Moriarty?
MM: Well, of course, we’re gigantic Brad Pitt fans. I think he’s a brilliant actor and a particularly brilliant character actor. And certainly the role that you’re talking about of Professor Moriarty is a big character to bite off. I hope Brad likes it. Let’s leave it at that. To be political, we should say nothing. But, he’s wonderful. We couldn’t be bigger fans of Brad. So, we’ll see what happens. It’s going to be an interesting film to watch. We can say nothing about this.
Can you tell me anything about the story?
KM: No, it’s a little bit of a secret.
MM: It’s under wraps.