Written by Heather Huntington
After the press conference for Bedtime Stories was done, we had a little one-on-one time with director Adam Shankman. Shankman, who made the leap from choreography to directing with family-friendly fare like Cheaper by the Dozen II and The Pacifier made himself a force to be reckoned with 2007ís blockbuster Hairspray. When we chatted with him, we made sure to press him on the status of Hairspray II. Youíll also notice that he alludes to some other unnamed big projects that were in the works and that we reported right after speaking with him. Those projects have since been officially named as Bob the Musical and Sinbad.
Collider: I think Adam Sandler must like you because he was much more somber at the Reign Over Me press conference than at todayís.
Adam Shankman: We adore each other and ultimately had such a great time together. I think a lot of people were like, ĎOh God, how are you two going to work together?í And I was like, ĎWhy would that be a problem?í
That doesnít make sense to me.
Adam Shankman: I know. Anyway.
You seem like you would probably get along with a lot of people.
Adam: I do get along with most people.
I was at a roundtable with you last year for Hairspray and you seemed like a lovely, happy person.
Adam: I do come off that way, donít I? (laughs) I think of myself asÖ the only thing I donít like is when outside forces have an agenda on your movie and youíre doing your best to try to do well and there are all these otherÖ there are a lot of people involved.
Letís talk about what made you decide to do Bedtime Stories. You do a lot of family movies.
Adam: This may end my streak of family for now because what had happened was, after Hairspray, I have a deal at Disney and Disney has always been an incredibly ardent supporter of me. Including this, with directing and producing Iíve made five movies for them in as many years. I had said to everybody in my world, ĎWe should do a movie with Disney. Letís identify a project that they have that they want to make that seems interesting.í This one came to the surface. It wasnít so much the family stuff that enticed me as it was going into the other worlds and the creative thing of diving into the aesthetic of that. I donít think anybody would have issue with me doing a lot of big CG now.
That was one of my questions. Thank you for that segue. This is quite different from your previous work. What are the challenges of the special effects?
Adam: None of them are challenges other than time and money. What Iíve really come to realize is things will match up to a certain personís aesthetic in its execution. This is an aesthetic that I bring to it based on what the story needs were and who my principal character was and that this was part of kidsí imagination so I wanted it to be fairly iconic. I didnít want to try to Frank Miller it. I didnít feel a need to make itóthis is going to sound terribleóI didnít need to make it as if I was reinventing the wheel. I just wanted to make it look great and fantastic.
Reinventing the wheel is a different project.
Adam: Thatís exactly a different movie. You donít make a Disney family movie with Adam Sandler. Adam Sandler inside a Disney family movie is enough reinventing the wheel for me.
You showed that some of his old SNL stuff actually works for this family medium.
Adam: Iím really thrilled with that. When we were casting the movieÖ Every parent was thrilled to say they were going to recommend this movie to all their friends. Thatís just not something you get with an Adam Sandler movie in general.
Were you worried about that at all?
Adam: A little.
And Russell Brand as well?
Adam: My knowledge of Russell was very limited when he first came as a casting suggestion. When I met with him, I was like, ĎOh. Wow. You look likeÖthat, huh?í The character seemed to have been written more for a Nick Frost kind of a character, and I loved the idea of going in this crazy, crazy direction. It felt great to me.
It was very interesting casting. What theyíre both known for is theyíre known for distinctly un-G-rated stuff and the question then is will they work in this G-rated medium.
Adam: I think he just totally works.
How was working with him? It seemed like everyone was really positive about their experience on the movie.
Adam: Yeah. We all walked away loving each other and feeling like we knew what the movie that we made was. Iíve done the family thing before, so I was always confident. I think that every once in a while [Russell] was like, ĎWait, what is this that weíre doing? Why am I doing this again?í And Iíd be like, ĎBelieve me, it will pay off.í There was a bit of that.
So youíre taking a hiatus from the family thing?
Adam: Iím going to take a little hiatus from kids and animals.
But that hiatus will involve Hairspray II?
Adam: That certainly will not happen this year. Thereís only an outline and weíre out to writers.
So that will happen in a bit?
Adam: Yeah. I mean, thereís not a note of music thatís been written.
How involved will you be in the music, since you do stuff like that.
Adam: Heavily. Heavily.
Thatís exciting since you came to Hairspray as a creature in and of itself, and youíll get to shape Hairspray II.
Adam: Yeah. Listen, itís all very exciting. The idea that thereís an appetite for this is very flattering.
And John Waters is coming up with the story.
Adam: Yeah. John Waters is definitely the one who created the original outline and there is come craaazy stuff in there, but itís awesome.
So what will you do before then?
Adam: I have for directing either one or two movies is going to be made. One is a musical, another musical, and the other one is a high seas action adventure. With some creative elements, but very much in the vein of Pirates of the Caribbean.
And it will take place off the coast of Africa.
Adam: It will take place, frankly, itís either in Indonesia or India. Itís either China or India.
The setting of the movie or where youíll shoot?
Adam: Kind of both.
That sounds very exotic and exciting.
Adam: It is very exotic and exciting. And huge. And I look forward to within a week Iíll be able to put a name to it.
But thatís not with Steve Martin.
Adam: No. Neither one has Steve Martin. Itís funny, Topper keeps coming up.
Itís on IMDB.
Adam: Itís not really happening right now. Itís kind of in lame duck land. I have those other two, and then Iím producing this movie based on a Nicholas Sparks book that is yet to come out actually, that weíre starting to shoot in June with Miley Cyrus. And then weíre shooting Step Up 3-D.
Thatís the one thatís being written for Miley.
So, youíre just huge.
Adam: (laughs) I donít know how huge I am. Iím busy. Weíre doing an Anne Hathaway movie called The Fiance that Burr Steers who did 17 Again and Igby Goes Down is directing. So weíre doing that. Thatís probably shooting in the spring in New York. Weíre busy.
Your through-line is big movies, but you involve yourself in different genres.
Adam: Yeah. Itís not like weíre making horror, you know? If I think about the kids of stuff that I would love to be able to move towards in the future after I do one of these other ones that Iím directing, Iíd certainly love to make a suspense. Iíd love to make a really complicated character drama, something small.
With a dance number.
But it seems like your personal happiness gets infused in the things you do.
Adam: Well, thatís true, but itís because I havenít had any material with which to infuse my personal unhappiness (laughs). Thereís no room for my dark side.
Youíre storing up the angst for when you need it?
Adam: Believe me, it runs rampant. Itís doing just fine all by itself.
So what is it that calls to you in these pieces? What called to you in Bedtime Stories?
Adam: In the past, I took movies like I took dance jobs. If somebody wanted me, if I could see the trailer in my head, I would do it because I was so flattered that anybody would ask me to do anything. When Hairspray came along, I really fought tooth and nail for that. That was very important to me and big. And when this came along, it was mostly because I wanted to do something where I was paying back Disney for lending me out for a couple of years. It was fun, also, doing the CG work and it was fun working with Adam. So now, onto other kinds of pastures, thatís all. Itís just a chapter of my life that the page is just getting turned. New chapter.
So the package appeals to you.
Adam: In this particular moment it had to do with a few things. Not wanting to act high and mighty after the success of Hairspray and going, ĎNow Iím going to do my dark Oscar picture.í I wanted to show everybody Iím still me, Iím going to stick to my little commercial roots right now, then Iíll slowly move into the other stuff. I also feel like after Hairspray I graduated into the school where I kind of know what Iím doing.
Were there any particular challenges you didnít anticipate?
Adam: Yes. When [Adam] broke his leg.
No one knew. That hadnít gotten out in the press.
Adam: It was really crazy. That was a bad phone call.
And you worked around it well.
Adam: I couldnít have done it if I wasnít a choreographer. I had to teach Adam how to rock in or sit into or stand up out of shots and then Iíd move into a new place on the set and rock him in or whatever so it always had the appearance that he was walking around.
Was he in the cast the entire time?
Adam: Not the first month.