Opening this weekend is director Kevin Macdonald’s (Last King of Scotland, State of Play) The Eagle. The films based on Rosemary Sutcliff’s novel The Eagle of the Ninth and it stars Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, and Donald Sutherland. Here’s part of the synopsis:
In 2nd-Century Britain, two men – master and slave – venture beyond the edge of the known world on a dangerous and obsessive quest that will push them beyond the boundaries of loyalty and betrayal, friendship and hatred, deceit and heroism.
The other day I sat down with Macdonald for an extended video interview. During our conversation, we talked about his very famous grandfather Emeric Pressburger (The Red Shoes), how The Eagle came together, and we also discussed his upcoming Bob Marley documentary. Hit the jump to watch:
For those interested in only watching selected parts of the interview, the entire conversation has been time indexed. If you’re as excited as I am for his Bob Marley doc, he gave me a pretty solid update towards the end of our conversation.
- 0:17 How busy he currently is. Talks about premiering Life in a Day at Sundance, shooting the Bob Marley documentary, and doing press for The Eagle simultaneously.
- 1:17 Talks about his famous relative. Grandfather was legendary film director, screenwriter, producer Emeric Pressburger (The Red Shoes). Talks about growing up with him.
- 3:32 Why he became a film director. Talks about his aspirtations growing up, wanting to be a journalist. Talks about his path to eventually becoming a feature film director.
- 4:45 Why was the titled changed from The Eagle of the Ninth to simply The Eagle, and whose decision was it? Talks about how the adaptation came about.
- 5:41 The balance between fact and fiction in the film. Talks about what interested him in wanting to do the film, and what research he did once he signed on for the film. He traveled the globe, looking at artifacts from the time period.
- 8:17 His vision for the film. He wanted to make a film that went against the grain from typical “Sword and Sandal” epics. Wanted to make it as authentic as possible.
- 9:33 Talks about casting. He was involved in the project from conception. Says the thought of all the actors being English was inauthentic, as America is the true superpower in the world just as Rome once was, therefore he cast Americans.
- 11:42 Casting Channing Tatum. Talks about how G.I. Joe came out while they were filming The Eagle and what he thought of G.I. Joe.
- 12:50 Casting Jamie Bell. Said he wanted to cast someone very different, physically, from Tatum. Talks the dynamic between Bell and Tatum
- 13:29 Bob Marley documentary, “I’ve been working on this Bob Marley documentary for about five months off and on. I’ve started to do interviews with people and meeting people and researching. It’s one of those films that somebody actually came to me with it—It’s not often that, when somebody comes to me with a film I go, “Oh I’m gonna make your film,” I usually originate things myself. But with this, I love Marley and I love the huge resonance he’s had around the world, it’s an incredible thing, so I couldn’t say no. I’m heading off on Sunday to do three weeks in Jamaica, meeting everybody down there, and trying to really reveal who the man was, which I think is the thing that’s been missing in everything that’s been done about him before, try and really show the human being. And also, at the same time I’m gonna travel around various parts of the world where people are still influenced, inspired by Marley and his legacy and by his music and the message, and talk to them about why that is and what they take from it. Because I think the unique thing about Marley is that he’s become more than a musician. He’s become a kind of philosopher, or a kind of icon, whatever that means, or a prophet even, if you’re religiously inclined.”
- 15:03 What parts of Marley’s life will the film focus on? “I’m going to take elements from his whole life. Obviously you can’t go through everything chronologically in a 90 minute or two-hour film. I’m gonna take the interesting bits (laughs). I recommend to any of you, that’s always a good way to make a film: use the interesting bits.
- 15:25 What the family’s involvement with the film means. “I think for a long time the family hadn’t really wanted to necessarily get involved in a film, but I think now they partly realize that everyone’s are getting older, some people are dying. If you’re not gonna do a film now, kind of the authoritarian film, then it’s never gonna be possible to do. So they’ve been incredibly cooperative, I’ve done interviews with Ziggy Marley and Cedella Marley, Cedella’s daughter, and with Rita the wife, with Rita Garner, with her, where she lives now, she lives part of the year here in Florida and part of the year in Miami. So yeah it’s a really great privilege to do, it’s a really fantastically fun and interesting, interesting project.”
- 16:15 Will he do another feature film? Says he likes to alternate between fiction and nonfiction. Talks about the difference between doing documentaries and feature films.