Director Roland Emmerich Talks Adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s FOUNDATION Trilogy as well as His Movie About William Shakespeare?!

     October 9, 2009


I’m currently in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where I just got out of the press conference for Roland Emmerich’s upcoming disaster flick “2012” during which he spoke about two of his upcoming projects.  One is his plan to adapt Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” which we first heard about in January of this year.

But the other film and the one he plans to start shooting this March came as a major shock to me because the movie is about William Shakespeare.  For those that don’t know Emmerich also directed “Independence Day” and “The Day After Tomorrow” so this is a major shift for him.  The film is called “Anonymous” and he planned to make the movie back in 2005 under the name “Soul of the Age”.  This new script is by John Orloff (“Band of Brothers”, “A Mighty Heart”) and Emmerich says it’s his next movie. Hit the jump for details on both films.

Before I get to the full transcript, I have to admit that I’m kind of fascinated by Emmerich doing “Anonymous”.  On the one hand, I think it’s exciting anytime a director who’s been widely associated with one kind of film does something that’s completely different and going from destroying the Earth to Shakespeare is about as different as you can get.  Obviously, the big concern is whether or not Emmerich can pull off this kind of small-budget, character driven film.  But that question alone gets me interested in this film and when you do this kind of story within the context of an Elizabethan political thriller, then I’m intrigued.  I’m still indifferent towards “Foundation” but that’s due mostly to me not having read any of the books.

Could you talk a little bit about the movie you’re planning to do about William Shakespeare?

william_shakespeare_01.jpgROLAND EMMERICH: It’s been eight years I’ve been trying to do this project.  It was always supposed to be my next movie but this time I’m really doing it because I’m already set to shoot on March 22nd and I’m the casting process right now which for me is the most kind of nerve-racking because you have to make decisions.  And I start shooting in four or five days the first plates in England.

What is it about?

EMMERICH: It’s about how it came to be that William Shakespeare was not the author of his plays.  It’s not [Christopher] Marlowe, it’s [Edward] de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.  It’s kind of like a political thriller.  It’s about who will succeed Elizabeth and the cause of that thriller, the Essex Rebellion, we take on, and we learn how the plays were written by somebody else.

In what context does the action take place?

EMMERICH: Well it’s very well researched.  The writer is John Orloff (“A Mighty Heart”) and he’s been working on the script for two years before I got involved and he did a really, really good job and I just discussed it with several actors who are very knowledgeable about that time and I’m really pleased how accurate it is.  Naturally, for dramatic reasons you sometimes alter facts but it’s pretty well-researched.

With Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” series, how do you plan to handle such a large mythology?  Will it be an original take or a literal adaptation?

roland_emmerich.jpgEMMERICH: Well I was interested in Asimov before and I think with “I, Robot” they changed everything and fans kind of hated the movie so I didn’t want to do that.  On the other end, The Foundation is a similar problem in that you have all these short stories and then they were combined into a book and so in a way there is not one character and I spoke with the Rob [Rodat, writer of “Saving Private Ryan”] and he said we have to consolidate the characters and that’s what we did and it worked really, really well in the context and I think if Asimov would have conceived this as a science fiction trilogy or series from the very beginning, he would have done that too but he didn’t so I think in spirit it’s totally “Foundation” but has consolidated characters that go through the three movies.

Have you read the script yet?

EMMERICH: No, but he keeps calling me and saying, “It’s fantastic, Roland!  I’ve never read such a good script!” and I say, “Well, maybe you should send it to me…?”  I love him.  He’s a great, great guy but I think I’ll get it soon.  He promised me he’d get it to me before “2012” comes out.

[Details about “Anonymous” provided in the introduction are from this recent report from The Hollywood Reporter ]

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