Marti Noxon is a versatile writer and producer who works in both film and television, but particularly excels in character-driven genre stories that appeal to a wide audience. With the suspense thriller I Am Number Four hitting theaters on February 18th, the very busy California native took some time to chat with Collider for this exclusive interview.
While we’ll run the portion of the interview where she talks about that film, starring Alex Pettyfer and Dianna Agron, closer to its release date, she also has the revamped Fright Night coming out in August and was happy to share the impression she’s already gotten of that film, her thoughts on the casting, how intense the film will get, and what it’s like to have so many people interested in the project. Check out what she had to say after the jump:
MARTI NOXON: Yeah.
What are your impressions of the film?
NOXON: So far, so good, knock wood. They’re just all such great actors, and (director) Craig [Gillespie] did such an amazing job. My experience with DreamWorks, so far, has been fantastic. With this and I Am Number Four, it’s great to see what you’ve done actually realized and elevated, as opposed to taken down a notch. It’s just a really good group of people, and they know what they’re doing.
When they came to you and told you that they wanted to revamp Fright Night, where did you start? Was there a jumping off point for you?
NOXON: Yeah, there were two things. One was that I’d been thinking about Vegas for a setting for awhile, for a supernatural story. Because of the mortgage crisis, in some of those suburbs out there, every third or fourth house is vacant and it has this really eerie, ghost town feel. And then, on top of that, I was like, “God, if I were a vampire, nobody would know because everybody sleeps during the day and works at night. This would just be an awesome place for monsters!” So, I had already started rolling that around in my head. It gets really dark, and it’s a place for sin and excess, and people go missing a lot. I was like, “I wish I were a vampire. I would so move here!” When I heard they were thinking about doing the remake, I immediately thought, “Well, that would be an awesome movie to set in Las Vegas.” It has that Spielberg-ian, suburb vibe and that Amblin feeling to it. You’ve got that, superficially, but then underneath that, something is really wrong. That, I immediately went to.
And then, the second thing was that I went back and looked at the original movie and was like, “Why are these guys friends? What happened there?” They never explain it. It felt like there were just big things cut out. I thought there was stuff that was indicated, but not explored. So, a big part of the movie is the relationship between Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) and Evil Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). Thematically, it definitely became a question of, “What kind of man do you want to be?” Charley forsakes his old friendships ‘cause he’s momentarily cool. That was a huge touchstone.
NOXON: Yeah, it was. I was a little fatigued at the romantic vampire. Although he’s sexy, for sure, Jerry Dandrige (Colin Farrell) is not a vampire who’s mooning or romantic. He doesn’t pine. He’s just a machine that kills things. I even thought of his attractiveness as a Venus fly trap. He’s designed to kill, so he’s got to be pretty to attract his prey, but he doesn’t pine.
How scary and gory will the film be?
NOXON: It’s intense. It has a lot of intense moments, but it’s not very gory. It’s pretty close to the original, but maybe a little bit scarier just ‘cause it’s a little more grounded. It’s not quite as over-the-top.
What was your reaction when you found out who the cast was?
NOXON: I was like, “Wow, they are classing the joint up!”
Did anyone surprise you the most?
NOXON: Collin [Farrell] was a surprise. I hadn’t thought of him for the role, but as soon as they said it, I was like, “Oh, my god, that would be amazing!” He has a very sympathetic attractiveness. He has a vulnerability to him that I was like, “Oh, that’s fantastic!,” ‘cause he’s so evil. And then, of course, when they cast David Tennant, I was thrilled. I couldn’t have been more excited. That part is comedic, but it could have been too broad and too silly. He got it just right.
As a writer, is it fun for you to see actors bring your dialogue to life?
NOXON: Oh my gosh, yeah. In Fright Night, David Tennant plays Peter Vincent, and he and Anton [Yelchin] just had such a great relationship. The same thing with Christopher Mintz-Plasse. The things they did with the stuff that we wrote, and the moments that they created out of it, was such a joy. To see something go to the next level is just great. David would improvise and I’d be like, “Have at it!” It’s a thrill. It really is, unless you hear something that you know just sucks and it’s too late and there’s nothing you can do about it. That happens.
NOXON: I feel incredibly excited, but I’ve been having a lot of dreams about failure. In the case of I Am Number Four, it was very much more a collaboration ‘cause I came in late to the process. But, Fright Night is very much something that I wrote. It’s the script that I wrote. I stayed on the project the whole time. That’s not what it’s like in network TV. I haven’t really done something, since Buffy, that was really just mine. You definitely feel more exposed. And with Fright Night, obviously (director) Craig [Gillespie] and the actors make it something totally different, but yeah, I wrote that. For the first time in a long time, I feel both really excited and like my ass is on the line.
Are you working on anything else right now?
NOXON: I’m doing another project for DreamWorks that’s called The Defenders. It’s a new version of an idea they developed a year ago, and that’s just in the script stage right now. That’s a big ensemble action, space comedy. And then, I also sold them a project that I still have to write, which is called Bad Baby, and that’s about a really bad baby.