Director Jonathan Liebesman Talks WRATH OF THE TITANS, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, His Julius Caesar Movie, ODYSSEUS, and More

     March 29, 2012

Jonathan-Liebesman-TMNT-wrath-of-the-titans-interview-slice

Opening tomorrow is director Jonathan Liebesman’s (Battle: Los Angeles) Wrath of the Titans.  In the sequel to Clash of the Titans, Perseus (Sam Worthington) is tasked with stopping the titans and saving Zeus (Liam Neeson) from Hades’ stranglehold (Ralph Fiennes). The film also stars Rosamund Pike, Bill Nighy, Edgar Ramirez, Toby Kebbell and Danny Huston.  And for those wondering how the sequel turned out, Wrath of the Titans is what I hoped Clash of the Titans would be.  It’s got a solid story, incredible effects, and the 3D is really well done.  I’ve seen it twice (including IMAX 3D) and it’s definitely recommended.  For more on the film, here’s five clips.

At last week’s press junket in New York City, I got to sit down with Liebesman for an extended interview.  During our wide-ranging conversation we talked about how he got involved in Wrath of the Titans, his process for addressing the things that didn’t work in the first film, the visual effects, editing, the monsters, how important was it to be accurate with the mythology while still being able to take dramatic license to make the story work, and more.  In addition, Liebesman talked about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (officially titled “Ninja Turtles”), Odysseus, his untitled Julius Caesar movie with producer Basil Iwanyk, the Battle Los Angeles sequel, and a lot more.  Hit the jump to watch.

Finally, if you’d like to just hear Liebesman talk about TMNT, click here.

wrath-of-the-titans-sam-worthington-jonathan-liebesman-liam-neesonJonathan Liebesman Time Index

  • 0:15 – Liebesman talks about how he got involved in the direction of Wrath of the Titans.
  • 0:50 – Liebesman considers himself lucky to have Warner Bros. interested in him after his struggle to get Battle Los Angeles made.
  • 1:20 – Regarding his concerns from Clash of the Titans, Liebesman talks about his process for addressing the things that didn’t work for him while keeping the same level of spectacle in Wrath of the Titans. He specifically called out keeping scenes with Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes, as well as injecting Sam Worthington more into the story.
  • 2:45 – Neeson and Fiennes were under contract for the second film, but Liebesman focused on talking to Neeson and Fiennes about their real life friendship and history to find a way to bring that out in the film.
  • 4:00 – Liebesman talks about the beginning of the film, which was finalized within the week before the final cut was due.
  • 5:10 – With respect to the effects, Liebesman did a lot of the visual effects in Battle Los Angeles, but said that the effects for Wrath of the Titans required a more practiced hand.
  • Jonathan_Liebesman-TMNT-Teenage-Mutant-Ninja-Turtles-movie5:50 – Liebesman talks about the pacing of editing the film and the difference in length between cuts; the first cut was nearly two hours, about twenty minutes longer than the final cut.
  • 6:50 – Liebesman reflects on a scene of Worthington giving a speech that he unfortunately had to cut. He also says there are some cool shots that he had to cut, but few action scenes have been sacrificed.
  • 7:40 – Regarding whether to shoot digitally or on film, Liebesman decided to go with film to keep the classical feel to the movie.
  • 8:30 – Liebesman comments on keeping the accuracy of Greek mythology while taking dramatic license to make the story work.
  • 9:50 – The monsters in Wrath of the Titans are a huge part of the film’s appeal and Liebesman talks about their design and the perspective used with them in the action scenes. He calls out the use of lighting with CGI and how he tried to use atmospheric effects to give a sense of photo-reality.
  • 12:20 – There are some surprising deaths in Wrath of the Titans; one particular actor was quite upset at the loss of their character. Liebesman talks about using story decisions to add an emotional context to a fast-paced action film.
  • wrath-of-the-titans-poster13:15 – Regarding the number of takes, Liebesman prefers “more takes and less coverage” but considers himself in the middle of both extremes. He also says that Worthington was up to the task of doing his own stunts and doing them over and over to get the right take.
  • 14:45 – Liebesman was actually excited by the recent passionate outburst from the fan base behind Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He says that’s why he signed on to the film because of his childhood experiences. He’s currently working with co-creator Kevin Eastman who is expanding the project with things he’s wanted to do for a long time.
  • 16:15 – Liebesman tries to clarify Michael Bay’s comments about the origin of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and assures fans that they’ll love the direction they’ve taken the material.
  • 17:10 – On whether Liebesman is going to use men in suits or CGI, he said he was a fan of Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
  • 17:25 – Liebesman is into the action of TMNT, but says the story is about “brotherhood and friendship and responsibility.” He talks about his love of the characters.
  • 17:55 – Liebesman talks about a September start date for filming, possibly in Canada.
  • 18:20 – Liebesman says he’s not doing Odysseus but will film an untitled Julius Caesar project with Basil Iwanyk and says the script is coming along exceptionally and he hopes to have the “right actor, the right tools, the right everything” to get it done right.
  • 19:00 – He’d love to have an R-rating for Caesar as long as he can show the studio why they would make their money back.
  • 19:25 – Liebesman sees Caesar in the vein of Ben Hur, an epic that has to feel real.
  • 20:10 – Regarding a sequel to Wrath of the Titans, Liebesman said he’d be happy to come back.
  • 20:35 – Liebesman confirms the sequel to Battle Los Angeles and says the script is coming along really well.


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