Director Martin Campbell Exclusive Interview EDGE OF DARKNESS

     January 28, 2010

Martin Campbell image (2).jpgOpening tomorrow is director Martin Campbell’s (Casino Royale) Edge of Darkness.  A GK Films Production based on the BAFTA Award-winning BBC miniseries of the same name (which Campbell directed), Edge of Darkness is about a homicide detective whose daughter is gunned down on his front steps.  When he starts to look into what really happened, he uncovers not only her secret life, but a corporate cover-up and government collusion that attracts an agent tasked with cleaning up the evidence.  The film stars Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Bojana Novakovic and Shawn Roberts and it’s been written by William Monahan (The Departed) and Andrew Bovell (Lantana), based on the original television series written by Troy Kennedy Martin.

To help promote the film, I got to do an exclusive interview with director Martin Campbell. We talked about why he wanted to revisit the material, working with Mel Gibson, filming in Boston (and why he didn’t have any Dunkin Donuts in the movie), deleted scenes, and, of course, we talked about his next film, Green Lantern.  Hit the jump to read what he had to say:

*NOTE* Slight spoilers are discussed. The section you might want to avoid is in red

Collider: So, I’m going to start with kind of a jokey question but you started Bond with Pierce [Brosnan], you know with GoldenEye.

Martin Campbell image (3).jpgCAMPBELL: Yes.

You introduced Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. And now you’re introducing Mel Gibson to the world again after a short few year break, so what does that sort of feel like to be, you know, to be bringing Mel back into the spotlight.

CAMPBELL: I didn’t even think of it as that. I just, you know, that’s a sort of an aside really. It’s just that he’s the right person. I just, in fact, he was the only person we considered for the movie just as an actor. I mean, the fact that he was coming back from an 8 year break didn’t really hit our radar. That’s not something we even discussed really. It was just that he was the right man for the job and he was the only actor we were considering.

You worked on, obviously you did the mini-series, and now doing the feature. What was it about the material that spoke to you that said “I want to go back to this and sort of tell a…”

CAMPBELL: Well it wasn’t my idea. The point was that somebody about 7 years ago suggested we made a movie of the series. And at the time I was kind of lukewarm about it. And they gave us money to develop a script, which we did, 5 or 6 drafts. And I met Graham King and I mentioned it to Graham. He said, “Look I’ll finance it because I saw the series”. And he brought Bill Monahan in to do the final couple of drafts and Mel, having literally having seen the Monahan draft signed on. So it was just a coming together really of a project that was sort of in the background or being developed while I was doing other things.

I’m friendly with Bill Monahan, and I was in Boston hanging out with him when you guys were filming, so I know he was on-set and I know…well at least part of the time…what was it like working with Bill on this? He has a real knack for Boston.

edge_of_darkness_movie_poster_mel_gibson_01.jpgCAMPBELL: Yeah, well of course it’s Boston. He’s from Boston. But also he’s just a fascinating writer because his dialogue is inventive, it’s interesting. Nothing is on the nail, you know? Nothing is obvious in his dialogue. He’s just a very clever, interesting writer. Love of subtext and just his phrasing and his rhythms are so much more interesting than most writers.

I grew up in Boston and I think you’ve captured the city. You showed a lot of things that were very a part of Boston, but I have to object-where is the Dunkin’ Donuts?

CAMPBELL: Ah, yes. I should have had a scene there shouldn’t I? Dunkin’ Donuts. Well of course they were invented in Boston. Absolutely in fact, you can’t go into any street in Boston with finding Dunkin’ Donuts. No, it’s a very good point. Well, I just slipped up. I fucked up. I should have actually done one for you.

I’m watching the movie and I’m like I know he’s going to get there. When is he going to go in and buy the coffee or something?

CAMPBELL: They’re hugely successful, I think. Amazing.

They really are. I do want to ask, I read and I’m not sure how true it is, that you guys…every movie does a little bit of reshoots, but I read that there was some reshoots on this. What did you guys go back…?

CAMPBELL: We did a couple of tiny things. We did the what happened down at the mine, what the information was in the mine.


CAMPBELL: Which I didn’t want to divulge but an audience in a preview wanted to know. They were keen to know what she discovered. I always thought it was better you didn’t know. I liked the idea that clearly it was toxic information that was enough to bring down Northbore-to bring down the corporation, but I thought it was more fascinating not to know. But the audience…so we shot that little scene. And what else did I…on the scene between Ray Winston and Milroy in the end of round garage. That was a much longer scene on the golf course which just seemed to take too long to say what it had to say, so we…those were the 2 scenes that we did.

Edge of Darkness movie poster Mel Gibson_1.jpgI know I’m going to run out of time so I definitely want to ask you my one Green Lantern question, actually I have 2 but my first question is a lot of people out there are really looking forward to the project and they’re very curious about what kind of tone you’re going for. Is it more in the vein of say an Iron Man, that fun kind of movie? Is it more Batman Begins?

CAMPBELL: Oh no, it will be much more in the tone of Iron Man. It’s got to be. Certainly not Batman Begins, which is a pretty dark movie. No, he’s the Hal Jordan character who’s the sort of shoot from the hip, irresponsible kind of cocky test pilot if you will. In fact, the character seems to be the least likely to be chosen as Green Lantern.  Well, of course that’s the fun of it. So no, it’ll be much more like Iron Man. So it’ll have one foot in reality if you see what I mean.

No, totally. Are you kind of surprised about the buzz…did you know when you signed onto the project that there was going to be this kind of scrutiny with the casting, with what you guys are going to do or are you sort of…I mean you’ve handled Bond, so I’m sure you’re used to that kind of limelight, but did you know what you’re getting yourself into with Green Lantern?

CAMPBELL: I think so. You learn by degrees. You know, when I first took on the job, I did it because I’d never done a superhero movie before and secondly he’s just…he’s a psychological character. His powers are psychological.   They’re to do with will and the enemy is fear and so on and so forth, as opposed to Superman who sort of runs into a phone box, gets the old spandex on and off he goes. So he’s a much more complex character and also again, it’s the origin story, which again is the Carol Ferris character, Carl Ferris. There’s Sinestro, Kilowog, Tomar-Re. All these characters and all who appear in the movie. So it’s such a kind of eclectic range of characters and also it’s the only superhero to go to another planet, so you’re creating at least another world that…and none of them do.

Edge of Darkness Mel Gibson image (1).jpgWell, I think…and I really want to go back to Edge, I have actually so many questions, but it has to be cool for you to be creating what will most likely be a big franchise for Warner Brothers, setting your sort of your take on what’s going to be the future.

CAMPBELL: It is, you know? It is fun and even creating the lamps and how you…you know what I mean? It’s amazing just how much attention to detail you have to have. You know?


CAMPBELL: How do you create the lamp? What’s the origin of the lamp? You’ve got the guardians. You’ve got the central battery. You’ve got all this stuff that you’ve got to deal with, you know? And we fortunately have a terrific production designer in Grant Major who did Lord of the Rings, so it’s a good….you know.

I could ask you a million questions, but I do want to go back to Edge, which is why I’m talking to you. I’m a big fan of DVD’s and extended DVD’s or director’s cuts. How do you feel about director’s cuts, extended editions and do you have a lot of deleted scenes from Edge from the feature that you’re planning on including?

CAMPBELL: Yes, there will be quite a lot of deleted scenes. And first of all, I’ve never done a director’s cut because I’ve always been happy with my cuts. I’ve never had a cut that I’m not happy with. And really I’m a final cut director anyway, but that doesn’t necessarily apply to the Bond’s but I did get my cuts on both the Bond’s, so on Edge the deleted scenes-there’s a lot more scenes about grief for example where there are various scenes where–terrific scenes as well with Mel–but you know a little grief goes a long way with Mel.  He’s so good at it that there comes a point where the film has to move forward. And so there’ll be scenes with that. Yeah, there’ll be quite a lot of scenes. And also the story went off on a tangent a couple of times, and which we just sort of focused in on Mel if you see what I’m…for example there was a sub-plot about the publicity. The way in which the police were releasing information to the press and they were being got at, if you see what…and it just seemed so superfluous, you know just superfluous to the thrust of the story. So I’m very happy with the cut. I wouldn’t change it.

Edge of Darkness Mel Gibson image.jpg

Saying that, is there like say 10 minutes or 20 minutes of extra scenes that’ll be in say a separate area on the DVD?

CAMPBELL: Certainly probably 10-12-15 minutes.

I definitely want to ask about the casting of like Danny Houston and Ray Winston. Could you talk about why you wanted these people in these roles?

CAMPBELL: Well, Danny Houston is just…I’ve always wanted to work with him. He’s such a terrific actor and such a versatile actor. You look at him in The Proposition or you look at him in Wolverine, you look at him…he’s in all sorts of things, you know? And The Constant Gardner, so he was perfect for that part. And Ray Winston, well just Ray is such a heavy weight in terms of I think people like to see him. He’s a terrific actor and I’ve known Ray for 30 years. So he was a given. All the other characters I cast out of New York and most are unrecognizable to most of the public. So I wanted to do that simply to make it realistic. It just makes it more realistic and believable I think when the other characters aren’t recognizable faces and such.

I’ve got to wrap with you, but I’m curious have there been any discussion about with the advent of 3D becoming so popular about doing say a Green Lantern in 3D or are you thinking about 3D for your other future projects?

CAMPBELL: Maybe. I mean Cameron’s raised the bar on all that, so I think what he’s done with Avatar will make every studio now sit up and look at the box office from 3D and the fact that audiences loved it and it’s such a hit. I think he will…and of course they can do it in post now, you know 3D is so…even though we haven’t really talked about it, I’m sure it’ll come up.

Edge of Darkness movie image Mel Gibson (1).jpg

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