Last December, a group of fellow journalists and I went to Prague to visit the set of Underworld: Blood Wars. For those who don’t know, the fifth installment in the franchise sees vampire death dealer Selene (Kate Beckinsale) traveling with David (Theo James) to train a new group of vampires against the growing lycan threat. The film also stars Charles Dance, Lara Pulver, Bradley James, and Tobias Menzies.
At the end of our visit, we got a chance to sit down and talk with director Anna Foerster. Foerster, who previously helmed episodes of the hit Starz’ series Outlander as well as serving as DP on White House Down, talked to us about putting her stamp on the franchise, why she took issue with the previous installment, Underworld: Awakening, how she’s using CGI on this film, what she learned from working on Outlander, and much more.
I should warn you that this interview contains spoilers regarding the death of a character who appeared earlier in the franchise, so if you want to go in completely cold, see the movie, and then come back and read this interview for an explanation on why they decided to kill off that character.
Check out the full interview below. Underworld: Blood Wars opens January 6, 2017.
ANNA FOERSTER: Yeah! I have seen the first two movies, the first one I saw it when it just came out it was quite extraordinary especially as a visual piece and creating a world that I have not seen before at that time. I mean later a lot of people copied it in different way. I think at the time this was one of the movies that kind of set a specific standard for the genre and I was a big fan of the look and the vibe and the tone of it. Then I think I saw the second one in the movie theatre I saw it later and the third one obviously is a completely different thing because it’s a—
FOERSTER: Exactly. And the fourth, I have to admit I wasn’t a big fan of four. That’s just a personal opinion to me.
Why weren’t you a fan?
FOERSTER: To me it became more like a futuristic science fiction piece and what missed for me is that balance with mythology and history were two one dimensional and clean for me. What I love about the other ones and what I love about what we’re doing right now is that their really interesting characters that have layers and even if it’s an actual film there is quite a lot of characters stuff going on and I felt that it wasn’t quite as developed as it could have been. There’s a lot of interesting stuff; the mother daughter stuff, a lot of heavy stuff but I’m not sure if it actually worked as emotionally impactful as it could have.
So when you stepped into this how tricky is it when working in a franchise and putting your own personal stamp on it especially when you had an issue like you did with the fourth one.
FOERSTER: Yeah it’s actually interesting because this is the question you have to ask yourself before you step into this. How can I or will I be able to navigate this because obviously there is a very specific set of rules of what underworld is and you have a certain obligation to the fans and the franchise and you have to stick with that. Yet I think you have the possibility to create new rules within this universe of Underworld and it was pretty clear for me in the beginning when n is poke with all the produces involved kind of comparing the movies, the fourth one and the first one and we discussed what I liked and what I didn’t like because I wasn’t so sure, it could have been four is where five should be continuing from. It became clear pretty quick that they were very open and excited about getting a relatively strong vision to kind of build on what Underworld is and that got me really excited. I think that has been, for me the most thrilling and exhilarating part of this adventure here is different casts, different locations, by locations I do not mean physically locations but the journey our characters take.
We are exploring new environments by them going to the north and developing a completely new set of rules for those people that live in the north and Why they live in the north. This is a different kind of vampire as well as for the lycans; to me was really exciting the idea to say… ok so the lycans have been organized before but what can make them more dangerous in a way and to me what was fascinating was the idea, what if they actually get control over their transformation because every time the transform they become those animals in a way and they don’t think clear they can’t hold weapons, they are becoming instinctive killing machines so what if the mantra of the new leader is don’t change, stay as clever as long as possible if and only change if you have to and that’s creating an interesting thing instead of people just turning all over the place into lycans you have the people, the lycans that are having their own strict set of rules now which to me all those things were exciting and everyone was open to that.