Exclusive: Cinematographer Robert Richardson on Why He Joined ‘Venom 2’

     August 26, 2019

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Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Richardson made headlines in the comic book movie world twice in the past month, but only once for a project he’s actually shooting. It was erroneously reported that Richardson would be serving as the cinematographer on Matt Reeves’ upcoming reboot The Batman, which the DP attributed to old information when he planned on shooting Ben Affleck’s version of that film. But in denying the story’s validity, Richardson voiced his desire to work on a superhero movie at some point, and he got his wish shortly thereafter when he signed on to handle DP duties on Venom 2.

The Sony Pictures sequel will reunite Richardson with director Andy Serkis after having shot Serkis’ feature debut Breathe, and it marks an exciting new avenue for the cinematographer behind films as varied as The Aviator, Kill Bill, and JFK.

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Image via Aviron Pictures

I recently got the chance to speak with Richardson at length about his work on Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and during the course of our conversation he spoke a bit about why he signed on to Venom 2 and what he’s looking forward to on that particular film.

Richardson said he was enticed by the opportunity of reuniting with Serkis, but also further exploring the possibilities of the title character with Tom Hardy:

“I was looking forward to entering into that arena with Batman years ago with Ben [Affleck]. I thought, ‘Well this is something I haven’t done that I would love to try to do.’ And then Andy Serkis, who I worked with on Breathe, gave me a call a month ago and said that he was up for this and would I be willing. I’d seen the film. I watched it again, then they sent me a script and I felt like, yeah, I would say yes anyway to Andy just because I would say yes to Andy, but I also think it’s a great… I think it’s unexplored yet, and it’s going to explode, and this film, I think, will help it explode, because you have a remarkable central character with Venom, but now you’ve got Woody Harrelson, who’s going to obviously make his own little entrance here, and we’ll see what else comes in with the Sony Marvel collaboration. I look forward to it. It’s a massive change for me, but I’m excited. I think Hardy is one of our best. He never misses. I so look forward to sitting with him and watching him perform”

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Image via Sony

I asked Richardson if Venom 2 might be diverting from the aesthetic that Matthew Libatique established in the first movie, and he said the sequel will likely be sticking closely to the foundation that Libatique set up:

“That actually hasn’t been determined in a lot of ways, but I do think that you have to honor what Matty did—you can’t not. We’re going to use locations that are already established. They’re going to be lit in what I hope is exactly the same way, so that you don’t feel that there’s a disconnect from that film to this film. In terms of the rest, that’s yet to be discussed because I haven’t yet sat with Andy in London. He’s over there now. I don’t go until the beginning of September. I’m in the process of getting my visa, and then when I go over that will become my life—with VFX, with storyboards, with, we get more into, “Well, how do we think we’re going to make this look?”

Richardson is undoubtedly one of the best cinematographers working today, and his work with Serkis on Breathe was impressive, so I’m certainly excited to see what they put together with Venom 2. The sequel doesn’t yet have an official release date, but things are moving quickly so we should hear more soon.

Look for my full interview with Richardson about Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on Collider very soon. If you’re a cinephile, you don’t want to miss it.

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