At this year’s Comic-Con, I had the opportunity to sit down with director Len Wiseman to talk about producing Underworld: Awakening and directing the remake of Total Recall. While interviews at Comic-Con are usually a bit rushed, one of the reasons I’m excited to post this interview is that I had over twenty minutes to talk to Wiseman. During the extended conversation, we talked about being back at Comic-Con and what does he geek out over, why should fans be excited about the 4th installment of Underworld, how he got involved with Total Recall and the differences between his movie and the original. Trust me, I spent a huge amount of time asking him about Recall and if you’re curious about the remake, you’re going to learn a lot watching this interview. Some of the things he mentioned:
- They’re not going to Mars and it’s not going to be in 3D.
- Says the movie has a different tone than the original and when I asked if his movie would use any of the classic one-liners, he said, “they have them in different forms.”
- Regarding any Easter Eggs to connect it to original film, says the three-breasted woman will be in it and a few other surprises.
- I asked about big action sequences and he says they have a few of them. One of them is a huge hovercraft action scene that will take 15 days to shoot. Says it’s being done practically with limited CGI. Here’s a few photos from when they were filming it.
- The shoot is scheduled for 80 to 85 days. They started in May and it shoots until September.
- Asked if they are doing anything the he would categorize as “pushing the boundaries?” He says he thinks they are. They filmed a fight sequence using a bunch of super slider rigs that are usually used for car chases and football games. The cameras goes 35 mph and they covered the fight sequence like a car chase.
Hit the jump for the full interview.
Here’s the time index of the interview with the video further down the page. That was you can watch the parts that interest you. Finally, a HUGE thank you to Len Wiseman for giving me so much time and for letting me ask so many Total Recall questions.
Len Wiseman Comic-Con Time Index
- :11 What’s it like to be back at Comic-Con? Talks about being recognized.
- 1:10 What does he geek out over at Comic-Con? Says he’s a big action figure guy and likes seeing all the props from movies.
- 2:13 Talks about what Underworld fans should be excited about with Underworld: Awakening. He says it’s very different, and he wanted to flip the premise of the series around and make it where the humans are completely aware of the vampires and lycans.
- 3:42 What did his role as producer entail on the film? He said he was super involved on the film, going back and forth between Total Recall and Underworld: Awakening.
- 4:30 Talks about Total Recall: “When it came about, like everybody else, I thought ‘Should this be remade?’ And then when I read the script and [saw] how different of a take the other writers took with it, I was completely gripped by it. It’s a very different take.”
- As far as I know, you guys aren’t going to Mars: “We’re not…We’re sticking to the essence of what that concept really is about. To me, what’s most engaging about Total Recall—Phillip K. Dick’s story, Paul Verhoeven’s adaptation of it—is the core concept of the journey that this guy goes through, not necessarily the destination it takes him whether it be Mars or whatever kind of fantasy or whatever destination he picks, it’s this journey that he goes through as this really twisted mind game of “is it reality or fantasy?” and how much of an internal struggle that is that’s really fun to play with, and really fun to play. Also there’s kind of a deeper experience into that character that I was fascinated by, which was one of the reasons with Colin [Farrell] that I immediately—you know he’s such a great actor and he’s so invested in this challenge of this dilemma that this guy has. And so that’s really I think, in my mind, what people love about Total Recall. Not necessarily that it went to Mars, but the situation that the man finds himself in.”
- 7:16 Talks about his version of Total Recall being realistic and not 3D. I asked “are you going for realism in this movie?” He said, “Absolutely. It’s one of the reasons why we’re not 3D. A lot of people ask me, “How in the world is this massive tentpole movie not 3D?” You know it’s a big budget film, and [people] assume that it’s 3D. One of the reasons why I chose not to go 3D is because [with] the tone that I was wanting to bring across, 3D, if it makes sense, almost made it overtly futuristic. It took away from a grittiness and a realism to the world that I was wanting to create. So it’s a more serious tone.”
- 8:36 Does he have any homages to some of the classic one-liners of the original movie? He says they have them in different forms, but his movie is of a different tone.
- 8:56 Are there any Easter Eggs to the original movie in their film? He says definitely. After he read the script he wrote a list out of the things that he remembered from when he first saw the original Total Recall to see what stuck with him before he rewatched the film.
- 9:54 Talks about leaked set photos. When asked if it’s frustrating or if he’s happy that there’s interest in his movie, he say it’s a little bit of both. He says he can’t be hypocritical, because when things leak about The Dark Knight Rises he’ll stop shooting so he can go see what leaked out before it’s taken down. He says some of the guys in suits are meant to be digitally manipulated in post-production, so the set photos give a different impression of what they will actually look like in the film.
- 11:19 Talks about putting the cast together. He says there was a tone he was trying to put together with the cast. He wrote Bryan Cranston’s name down very early on in the process. He says he had talked to Kate Beckinsale about taking on her role in the movie a while back, but the shooting schedule was going to overlap with Underworld until the schedule of Total Recall was pushed back and she was able to do both movies.
- 13:16 Does he read other scripts and line up other projects while he’s shooting or does he just focus on one movie at a time? He says he generally just focuses on the job at hand, and he’s been doing Total Recall and Underworld at the same time so he hasn’t had a lot of time to look at other projects.
- 13:56 What projects does he currently have in development? He says there’s a sci-fi thriller that he’s been working on. He says the budget is difficult to get approved because it’s an original project and doesn’t have a built-in audience.
- 15:01 Talks about being able to get more things off the ground if Total Recall is a big success. He says that’s the reason he’s writing a script right now.
- 15:43 Talks about action-set pieces in Total Recall. He says they have a few, and one of them is a big action chase sequence that’s being done practically with limited CG. The sequence will take 15 days to shoot.
- 17:06 He talks about the footage they’ve showed at Comic-Con. Says they haven’t been shooting very long, but he understands that people have waited in line for a long time and they want to see something so he brought a full scene that they shot during the first week. It’s the scene where Colin’s character goes to Rekall (You can read Matt’s recap of the footage and panel here).
- 18:12 Talks about the rating and if they’re shooting a “harder” version of the film for the unrated DVD. He says it’s a hard PG-13, and says he shoots as he shoots and if things get too graphic or violent, he shoots it anyway and if the ratings board asks them to cut it out, they will put it on the DVD. He confirms that the three-breasted woman will be in the film, and there will be a different version of her on the DVD.
- 19:42 How long is the shoot schedule? He says it’s about 80-85 days. They started shooting in late May and they’ll go until around the beginning of September.
- 20:40 Are they doing anything the he would categorize as “pushing the boundaries?” He says he thinks they are. They filmed a fight sequence using a bunch of super slider rigs, that’s usually used for car chases and football games, the cameras goes 35 mph and they covered the fight sequence like a car chase.
- 22:10 How hard is it for him to micromanage second-unit shooting and not want to go and do every shot himself? He said it’s very hard, and as his movies get bigger it gets harder for him to do it. On Total Recall, a lot of the second-unit shoots on the weekends when he’s free, so he’ll go down to be there for filming.