At the press junket for the new interactive web series Aim High, starring Jackson Rathbone (Jasper in The Twilight Saga) and Aimee Teegarden (Friday Night Lights), executive producer McG was there to express his passion for the cutting edge project that will incorporate viewers’ personal Facebook profiles into the story of a high school student (Rathbone) living a double life as a government operative while dreaming of the most popular girl in school (Teegarden).
While we will run that portion of the interview closer to the web series’ October 18th premiere, we did want to let you know what he had to say about what else he’s currently juggling. In post-production on the action-comedy This Means War (starring Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy and Chris Pine) and with six television series currently in development for next season, McG said that he’s looking at a few films right now and will probably decide what he’ll focus on next before the holidays. With so many things on his plate, not everything will end up actually getting made, which he said may be the case with the Ouija board movie that Universal dropped from their production schedule. And, while he knows they did a lot of things right with Terminator: Salvation, he also knows that they did a lot of things wrong, so only time will tell whether or not that director’s cut with all the additional footage will ever be released on DVD/Blu-ray. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
McG: For me, that is about people. I’ve got really smart people, and people at Wonderland, where we all try to support each other and think about what’s best and have a very consistent voice. You’ll notice that a lot of our stuff is youth against establishment, and we spark to that. We’re a dream factory. We tell stories about lives that are bigger than the pedestrian human life. We’re not really long on subtlety at Wonderland. We long big concept stuff, like Chuck, Supernatural, Charlie’s Angels and Aim High. That’s the stuff that we find ourselves attracted to, day in and day out.
What will you be working on next, feature wise? Do you have any projects lined up, with you in the director’s chair?
McG: I’m finishing a movie now, that I’m in post-production on, with Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy and Chris Pine, that’s called This Means War, that is Ocean’s 11 and Mr. & Mrs. Smith in tone. Tom and Chris are spies, and they’re best friends until they meet Reese, and then they turn their spy acumen on each other and all hell breaks loose. It’s fun. It’s a big action-comedy.
Do you know what you’ll do, once you’ve finished pre-production on that?
McG: No, I’m just looking at a few films right now and deciding. This Means War doesn’t come out until February 17th, so I’ll probably make a decision before the holidays, and then start prepping whatever that is.
Do you have any new TV projects in development as well?
McG: Yeah, we’ve got six shows that we’re in development on, right now. There’s Chuck, Supernatural and Nikita, that are on the air. And then, we’ve set up six different shows that we’re developing this year, for next season.
What gets you excited about a project these days and makes you want to sign on to get behind something?
McG: It’s really fun to create something that touches the world. It’s fun to think, “Wow, that didn’t exist, and then we got together and told that story and the whole world is excited about it.” It was fun on The O.C. It’s fun with Jared [Padalecki] and Jensen [Ackles] on Supernatural. It was fun with Charlie’s Angels. It was fun with Terminator. I don’t really think about film or television or going directly to the internet. I just think about doing something that people are going to get excited about. I’ve gotta say, it’s very satisfying when it’s corroborated by the audience and you have a hit on your hands. When you have something with resonance, it feels good. Sometimes you do things for personal reasons. I made a very personal movie in We Are Marshall. I was afraid of flying, for a long time, and that’s a movie about a plane crash. Sometimes you do things that are fundamentally built to touch the world, and you feel good when you’re successful doing it, and you’re disappeared when the world fails to respond, which also happens. But, you just wake up and keep trying to find great pieces of material, populate it with great pieces of talent, and then deliver it to the world to let them decide.
When you have a number of projects in development, some will end up in production and some won’t. How do you gauge when it’s time to pull the plug on something that just isn’t working, and move on to the next thing?
McG: I don’t know. You need to be very honest and nimble. It’s always very difficult when you see something is going south and not getting the teeth that you wanted it to get, but you have to be honest and not put good energy after bad. It’s something we all struggle with, every day, as you continue to learn, day in and day out. It’s hard to let go. You put so much energy into it, and then you’re like, “Oh, now we’re going to go to a different network with this, or find a different way to do that.” And then, you’re like, “Wait, hold on a second. That doesn’t happen very often. Maybe we should just take our losses and pull up and cut bait and move on.” It’s just hard to do when you put so much energy into your child. When you’re a producer or director, there’s so much sweat that goes into any given project. When you’re an actor, you show up and it’s wonderful because you’re in the world of make-believe. Actors can make five movies a year. A director can make one movie, every two years. It’s a whole different level of commitment and of sweat equity, and therefore there’s a direct correlation to passion. Actors can become very involved in a role, but for a director or producer, that’s your life for many years.
McG: Maybe. That movie ran out of gas at Universal. We may end up making it somewhere else. It’s one thing in development, and we’ll see. I just like that story because I like big ghost stories. That movie is about, “What if you could access the other side? Wouldn’t that be interesting?” It’s this moment of science and the mystic coming together. And, it’s fun to work with Michael Bay and tell big stories with a lot of visual style. We’ll see if that one happens, or if we end up doing something else.
When you cast Tom Hardy in This Means War, you talked about how exciting he was, as an actor. Are there any actors out there right now that you’re really intrigued by or excited about that you would love to develop something with?
McG: Yeah! It’s always fun watching new actors and new voices come out. I think Emma Stone is very exciting. I like Mila Kunis. Obviously, Tom Hardy is a great voice. I think Chris Pine has a lot of great work ahead of him. He’s so good in Star Trek, but I went to see him in a Martin McDonagh play (“The Lieutenant of Inishmore”), in a theater construct, and the guy was unbelievable on stage, doing an Irish accent. He’s a very, very accomplished young actor with a lot of great roles ahead of him. I think Ryan Gosling is pretty great. He’s clearly having his moment. It’s fun to watch these pieces of talent evolve.
McG: That’s something we really pride ourselves on. We try to find new, inspired voices that are exciting, whether it’s Mischa Barton in The O.C., or Shia LaBeouf in that second Charlie’s Angels movie, or putting Chelsea Handler in This Means War. It’s just about always trying to make the novel, exciting choice, be it a new voice or a re-imagining of someone who has been established for awhile.
Initially, you had said that there was a lot of deleted footage from Terminator: Salvation, but there wasn’t much of it on the DVD/Blu-ray release. What happened with that? Will that still come out?
McG: I don’t know. I feel like we did a lot right with Terminator, and I feel like we did a lot wrong. I really tried to deliver and do the best I could, with making that film. It worked for a lot of people. A lot of people didn’t like the ending. You live and learn. We did the best we could. I poured everything I had into that picture. Yeah, there’s some outstanding footage out there, and we’ll see if there’s a director’s release to come, in the future. You never know. Time will tell. But, I love the Terminator franchise. I hope they make another one. We’ll see where that takes us.