Director Ruben Fleischer on ‘Venom’, Carnage, and Tom Hardy’s Insane Performance

     October 12, 2018

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Warning: Venom spoilers are discussed in this interview.

Shortly before Venom arrived in theaters, I sat down with director Ruben Fleischer for a spoiler-filled conversation about the making of the film. Now that the film has been out for a little while, we can dive into all of the specifics, including why certain decisions were made.

During the interview, Fleischer talks about how the film came together in the editing room, the lack of deleted scenes, how the lobster tank scene with Tom Hardy happened, if the movie always opened with the spaceship crashing on Earth, Riz Ahmed’s character’s motivations, why they decided to include She-Venom in the film, the Woody Harrelson after-the-credits scene which introduces Carnage, and what’s up with Zombieland 2.

Check out what he had to say below.

Venom follows disgraced reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) who comes into contact with an alien symbiote that turns him into the creature known as “Venom”. The film also stars Riz Ahmed as Dr. Carlton Drake, Michelle Williams as Anne Weying, Jenny Slate as a scientist working for Drake, and Reid Scott as a doctor trying to help Brock.

Collider: I like asking about the editing process, because ultimately, that’s the final re-write. What did you learn from early friends and family screenings, or any test screenings, that impacted the finished film?

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Image via Sony

RUBEN FLEISCHER:  We actually did very few screenings of the movie because of the protective nature of not wanting a lot of word to get out about the film. So, most of what we learned about the movie was from our own internal process of trying to figure out the relationship between Eddie, and Venom, and wanting to mine that, because I think that’s the core of the movie, is the dynamic between Eddie and Venom. That’s what we really, through the editing process, were mining and leaning into, and wanting to cultivate and expand upon. That was for me, the most exciting aspect of the movie, and what I was trying to cultivate.

I always am curious about deleted scenes. How long was your first cut, compared to the finished film?

FLEISCHER: Well, the movie was pretty short. I’m trying to remember. The original cut wasn’t…sometimes, you hear about three hour long assemblies. It wasn’t that. I think the original editor’s assembly, where it has every single scene in it, maybe two hours, which is a surprisingly short amount of time for a movie, because we ended up not that much shorter than that. So, it didn’t get pared down too significantly.

This movie was always intended just as a really fun, crowd-pleasing ride. It’s full of action. It’s just a fun movie, so it was always from script to finish line, it was just a tight, just exciting ride.

The thing is, as you I’m sure are aware, the two films that people love to know about everything are superhero movies, and Star Wars films. It’s like, they want the nitty gritty, in terms of what scene was cut, and why. I’ve learned the fans want to know everything.

FLEISCHER: Of course, yeah. As far as the specifics, I’m trying to think of what didn’t make its way in. We really tried to capitalize on everything that we shot. I think Tom Hardy’s performance is so strong.

He’s what we call, a talented actor.

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Image via Sony

FLEISCHER: I would agree with that. It’s great, so anything with Tom just doing what he does, which is elevate, and just invent, and make memorable scenes, we tried to just really feature as best as we could.  One of my favorite scenes in the movie is that first scene in the bistro, when he first hears Venom, and he’s talking to Anne, and he interrupts Anne and Dan’s lunch, and he ends up in the lobster tank. That was something that Tom invented himself. We had planned out the blocking for the scene, and it just so happened that there was a giant lobster tank, as a part of the production design. But it was never intended that Eddie was gonna’ get in the tank. But Tom’s the kind of actor who, when he comes into an environment, and he figures out how he might want to realize it, if there is a giant lobster tank, he’s the kind of guy who says, “I’m gonna get in that lobster tank.”

By the way, that’s a fun scene, because he is just going for it in that scene.

FLEISCHER: I know. We had an even more heightened version, but what we try to always do is, take him going for it, and then ground it. So, when we went to rehearse the scene, we actually did it before the day of shooting. He wanted to get a sense of the environment, so he could plan in his head what he wanted to do. When he was there, he saw, “Oh shit, there’s this giant lobster tank. I think Eddie would want to get in that tank.”

So, we hadn’t intended it. So production design overnight had to figure out how to steel reinforce the tank. We had live lobsters planned, so we had to get a bunch of fake lobsters to fill it with so that the actor could get in the tank with them. But, that’s the kind of thing about working with a genius like Tom Hardy is, he’s always gonna go to that next level. He’s always gonna take it further. He’s always gonna elevate the material, and the scene that you’ve imagined, he’s gonna make it better. That’s just what he does.

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