A native of Paris, Louis Leterrier developed a love for cinema at an early age. After working as a production assistant or second assistant director on such films as Alien: Resurrection, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc and Asterix & Obelix Meet Cleopatra, he went on to take the helm of Unleashed, Transporter 2 and the blockbuster The Incredible Hulk, based on the Marvel comic and starring Edward Norton.
Now, he is bringing his own version of the Greek mythology epic Clash of the Titans to the screen, in 3-D. While at the press day, the director talked exclusively to Collider about why he wants to hold some of the deleted scenes back from the DVD, how he thinks there will be a longer version eventually released and what the appeal of a film like The Avengers, which he is on the short list for, has for him. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
Question: In remaking Clash of the Titans, what is the point where you stop worrying about what you have to do to please the fans, and just focus on making a really great film?
Leterrier: Early on. In the beginning, I watched the movie a couple of times, and then I was like, “Okay, I know the movie.” I have the DVD, but I never watched it again, after that. It’s on the shelf. I knew the movie was existing, but if I always kept the movie in my back pocket, that would have stopped me, like a big ball and chain. I said, “I’ll leave the DVD in Los Angeles and go shoot the movie in London, and I won’t watch it again.” I’ll watch it again next week, when it’s all said and done and the movie is out. I’ll sit down and watch the original Clash of the Titans and say, “Yeah, I did the same thing. Oh, that’s very different.”
Now that you have the final product, are you happy with all the changes and cuts that you had to do? Are there things that you were surprised you ended up cutting?
Leterrier: You always have three movies that you have to reduce into one. You have the screenplay. And then, you do a workshop and you add more scenes. And then, on the day you shoot, there’s more action and interaction. It’s like a souffle. It has a tendency to just grow and explode, and it’s just too long. Yes, I could make a four-hour version of Clash of the Titans, but you wouldn’t want to see that. There’s a ticking clock. He has to go. The movie starts and, 10 minutes into it, Hades comes down and says, “You’ve got 10 days, or we’ll unleash the Kraken.” So, if you actually take 10 days to tell the story, people will be bored.
Eventually, one day, there will be a longer version, but for now, this is a great, fast, tight version of everything. Yes, I had to cut some stuff down, but movies have different lives now. That’s what’s great about DVD and Blu-ray, and new media that are coming out. You can really have a new interactive life, where you can kick on your Blu-ray and you have a window that shows you how we shot that scene, or there’s a longer version of the scene, or there’s me having dinner. I’m very happy with this version. It’s a great version. I’m happy that it’s tight. It should be tight. It’s an hour and 45 minutes, but there’s a lot of stuff happening, and a lot of visuals, colors and creatures. I want you to say, “Yeah, I want to see it again!” I’d rather give a little less, so people are still happy and excited, rather than just go, “Just forget about it.”
Are there specific things your excited about including on the DVD?
Leterrier: Yeah. I’ll actually work on the DVD stuff in London. There’s tons of stuff. I don’t know what we’ll put on it yet. I want to keep some stuff secret. If there is another cut of the movie that comes out, there’s great stuff. With all of the deleted scenes, there’s great stuff. I’ll put some deleted scenes on it that I know will never end up anywhere, but I want to keep some stuff secret too.
Was it challenging to use a combination of sets, animatronics and CG, or did you feel that was the only way you could have done this?
Leterrier: That was the only way I could have done it. I’m a Clash of the Titans/Star Wars baby. I’m not a new Star Wars baby. I’m not an Avatar baby. That full CG doesn’t work for me. I need interactivity. I need to feel the goo. I need to feel people coming out of animatronics and just interacting with props. I tweaked the prop afterwards, but I need that stuff, and it’s good for the actors and their performances. It just helps everybody. I was hitting them. It helps.
At what point did they approach you about turning the film into 3-D?
Leterrier: I approached them and we talked about it, early on. And then, we said, “Who knows how Avatar will do?” Most of the conversion 3-D technology was not ripe. It was very expensive. The movie was finished and I’d done a longer version of the edit, which I screened for the studio, and they really liked the movie. Then, Avatar came out and they said, “Remember that discussion that we had? Well, we’d like to do the 3-D conversion.” I was like, “Yes, but we talked about it a long time ago. It’s expensive and it doesn’t work, so why?” And they were like, “No, there’s a new technology, View-D by Prime Focus. You should try it ’cause it’s amazing.”
I really was skeptical, but I tested it and it was unbelievable. It looked like exactly what it looked like on set. I like the interactivity of it. It’s not like you press a button and then it’s done and you cannot do anything. I was giving them actual measurements. It was interactive. It’s fantastic. My fear in converting it to 3-D is that people will say, “Oh, it’s the 3-D Clash of the Titans.” No, it’s Clash of the Titans, the movie, and then, on top of that, you have the 3-D conversion. The 2-D movie works as well as the 3-D movie. I want to make sure that people like the 2-D version. It’s not a gimmick. It actually improves the viewing experience, but the movie stands on its own.
Are you really in talks with Marvel about directing The Avengers? Have you spoken with Marvel about that?
Leterrier: Oh, yeah. I’m on a short list, but it’s a short list of good people, so I’m at the bottom.
How badly do you want to do that?
Leterrier: Oh, bad! I would love to do it.
What kind of appeal does a project like that have for you?
Leterrier: As a boy, we grew up reading this stuff. It’s amazing to tap into the superhero world. What’s great about The Avengers is that it’s the next step. It’s not just superhero fights super-villain and superhero wins. It’s about superheroes that come together and interact. It’s a clash of the egos. You could do Avengers 1 without a villain, just with all these guys coming together. They could sit down and just have a discussion.
One of them could sit down with Iron Man and say, “You’re not a superhero. You’re a hero that’s been made.” Thor could say, “I’m a god! You’re nothing! You take technology and make yourself a god, but I’m a god!” Bruce Banner could say, “We are humans. We shouldn’t play with fire.” It’s just fun stuff. And, what’s funny about all that stuff is that it all goes back to Greek mythology. All the superhero stuff is Greek myths and Greek gods, wearing tights and capes. That’s what they are. That’s what I gravitate towards, and that’s what I like now, at 36.
And Edward Norton wants more Hulk, right?
Leterrier: Yeah, we’ll try. I speak to Edward often. It would be great. I’d love to do that.