There’s a lot of excitement surrounding Robert Rodriguez’s adaptation of Jonny Quest, but little confirmed news as to which characters are certain to make the cut, which version of the fan-favorite series will serve as inspiration, and what rating it will ultimately receive. In speaking with producer Adrian Askarieh at the Hitman: Agent 47 junket in NYC, we were able to answer some of those questions.
Rodriguez recently turned in the script he co-wrote with Terry Rossio, both of them working from an earlier draft by Dan Mazeau. Though it’s not quite ready to turn in to the studio yet, they expect to have the script in soon. Then, it’s up to the studio to decide the film’s ultimate rating. For an up-to-date look at where the Jonny Quest movie stands right now, check out Steve’s interview with Askarieh below followed by some quotes and our thoughts:
Collider: What’s the status of this project, and where are you in the scripting phase?
Adrian Askarieh: Dan Lin and I have been developing Jonny Quest for eight years. Lot of starts and stops. Speed Racer hurt us big time. I don’t subscribe to the notion that … they were completely different movies, but that’s the reality of the studio world. But everywhere I go around the world, when people find out I’m involved with Jonny Quest, it doesn’t matter how old they are, 40, 50, 12, 18, all walks of life, they love the character, they love that show, they want to see the movie. It’s extraordinary. I don’t think any of my projects have that ‘want to see it’, that fan fervor that Jonny Quest does.
So Dan and I are now working with Robert Rodriguez, who’s directing and co-writing with Terry Rossio, and they’ve turned in a draft which is phenomenal. We’re doing a little more work on it; we hope to turn it in after Labor Day to the studio. And I really feel the timing might finally be upon us that we’re going to make the Jonny Quest movie. It really is an extraordinary script. A lot of the credit actually goes to Dan Mazeau because we’re re-writing his original draft, but Terry and Robert have brought a zing to it. I think Robert is going to really, really hit it out of the ballpark. He’s very passionate about it.
You’ve got to respect the enthusiasm and ambitious energy behind this project. Eight years and the failure of Speed Racer hanging over them does not make for an easy working environment. That could all go away, one way or the other, depending on how the studio responds to the draft of their script.
How does the movie you guys envision compare to the animated show? Does it feel like it’s the same universe? What’s your basis that you’re working with?
Askarieh: We’re working based on the original 1960s Jonny Quest prime time animated show. That is our source of, not only inspiration, but the pool that we’re culling our inspirations from. I know a lot of people like The New Adventures of Jonny Quest, and that’s fine, but we are now focusing on the original 60s animated show. Robert, Dan Lin, Terry Rossio, myself, big fans, and look, there’s nothing wrong with it, so if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. That thing is a work of genius. We’re lucky to have it to reference.
I’m also a fan of the newer version of Jonny Quest, but I’m happy to see the original series is getting the focus here. It’s also comforting to know that the filmmakers are beholden to the 60s version for their take rather than attempting to either blend the different series together or add their own twists to the mix.
Can you confirm the same character names and the same kind of archetypes? Are you mixing it up a little bit?
Askarieh: No, Jonny Quest is in it. Race Bannon, Benton Quest, Hadji is in the movie, even Bandit.
You’re going old school.
Askarieh: Jezebel Jade. If you love Jonny Quest, the potential that this movie has to honor that show, I think you’ll be thrilled by it.
This is the big news for this particular interview, the fact that the core group will be featured in the movie. An interesting addition is Jezebel Jade, one of the somewhat regular supporting characters who accompanies the gang as a freelance agent and has a contentious romantic relationship with Race.
I would imagine that’s a PG-13.
Askarieh: Yes. We want to make a PG-13. Again, I never want to be presumptuous to stamp a rating before the studio gets involved; that’s ultimately their decision. This is not going to be a kiddie action-adventure movie; this will be an action-adventure that happens to have a 12-year-old in it.
Robert said something along the lines of an Indiana Jones, something like that. An action-adventure that happens to have a kid.
Askarieh: Exactly. That’s, all of us, that’s what we want. That’s our M.O. for this movie. Indiana Jones meets James Bond.
We previously reported that the filmmakers wanted a PG-13 rating for the film, but the fact that they’re confirming the title character to be 12 years old is new information. It fits in line with the idea of adapting the original series, rather than The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest in which Jonny’s a couple of years older. I’m very curious to see how Rodriguez & Co. work a pre-teen Jonny and Hadji into the script (and the casting), especially since they’d need either Race or Benton to accompany them to the theater to see their own movie.
Are you relieved to hear that Jonny Quest will focus on the original series? What about the characters you can expect to see on screen? (I’m most interested to hear your opinions on Bandit and Jezebel Jade.) Let us know in the comments below!