With director James McTeigue‘s (V for Vendetta, Ninja Assassin) The Raven opening April 27, yesterday afternoon I got to speak with him here in Los Angeles. If you’re not familiar with The Raven, the story takes place in 1840s Baltimore where a series of grisly murders appear to have been inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe (played by John Cusack). Poe and a detective (Luke Evans) must team up to find the killer before he takes out the woman Poe loves (Alice Eve). The film also stars Oliver Jackson-Cohen, and Brendan Gleeson. For more on the film, here’s the trailer and 40 images.
While I’ll have the full interview online the week of release, towards the end of our conversation, we discussed some of the projects he’s developing like Message from the King, The Gringo, and Ness/Capone (a retelling of the Eliot Ness/Al Capone myth that’s “nothing like The Untouchables”). According to McTeigue, it seems like Message from the King is the one with any momentum, as he’s “going through the casting process of that at the moment” and it’s being produced by Aaron Ryder and FilmNation. He says it’s an R rated picture that takes place in L.A. and it’s about “a mysterious outsider who comes into L.A. from South Africa looking for his sister who’s dropped off the radar.” Hit the jump for more.
Here’s what McTeigue had to say about what he’s developing. You can also read a transcript below the video. Look for our full conversation soon.
Collider: According to the always accurate IMDb, you have Message from the King, The Gringo, Ness/Capone, I’m sure other things are not listed. What have you been trying to lift up to get off the ground? What things are getting closer? What are you developing?
James McTeige: Message from the King is definitely one. Doing that with FilmNation, Aaron Ryder, who produced this movie. That’s a film I’m definitely interested in doing; going through the casting process of that at the moment.
Ness/Capone is a retelling of the Eliot Ness/Al Capone myth, I would say at this point. Ultimately, the film is nothing like The Untouchables; it’s about as far away from The Untouchables as you can get, because Al Capone was actually 30 years old and Eliot Ness was 26 years old when they were chasing each other. So the Ness/Capone movie is a muscled-up version of that story or a more true to real life story than the other film was.
The Gringo, that’s out there. You always have many fingers in many pies, I say, because, I think we were talking about it down in the press conference before, films get made when the time is right. You never know when all of those pieces are going to interlock. You keep going on many fronts and hopefully the penny drops when it should.
McTeigue: Yeah, at the moment. Yeah, that’s the one I’m actively really trying to cast up.
Could you just tell people what it’s about?
McTeigue: Yeah, Message from the King is about a mysterious outsider who comes into L.A. from South Africa looking for his sister who’s dropped off the radar. He ultimately finds out, in pretty short order, that his sister is dead; he finds her in the morgue with her eye poked out and her toe cut off. And it’s about him traversing L.A. and finding out what happened to her: why ultimately the city ate her alive, why the city killed her. She’s in touch with all of these disparate groups throughout the city, whether they’re Armenian gangsters or whether it’s a Hollywood producer or this strange kind of Beverly Hills dentist conduit that exists in this in-between world between all these disparate cultures. And he comes in and moves through the city in a very kind of vertical fashion. He doesn’t understand the politic of the city at all. So, I decided that I’d like to make that because it speaks about LA and I don’t think been there’s enough movies that are really about L.A. Michael Mann tries to do them, he’ll do it with Heat or Collateral, but I think this movie is really about L.A. and the people who make it, the people who fall through the cracks; it gives you a whole breadth of the city, which I really like.
McTeigue: It is an R-rated movie.
I have to ask, did you see Drive? Because Drive takes place in L.A. I love Drive.
McTeigue: Yeah, it does. It’s not like Drive. Drive, to me, was a very European take on L.A. and if someone didn’t tell me that that movie was set in L.A., I really wouldn’t have known, you know? I think that this movie is much more about Hollywood itself and Beverly Hills and Bel Air and parts of the beach. Drive, to me, felt like it was very East L.A. or Valley driven. This is people’s classic perception of Los Angeles and it’s more about that and the twisting of that myth, I guess.