Peter Berg Talks BATTLESHIP, the FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS Movie, and the Upcoming NBC Series PRIME SUSPECT

     August 1, 2011


Following the TCA Press Tour panel for the NBC police drama Prime Suspect, Collider got the chance to speak with the upcoming series’ executive producer/director Peter Berg. Quite a busy man in Hollywood, he stressed how serious he is about doing a Friday Night Lights movie, the attention and curiosity that Battleship is getting, especially now that a trailer has been released, why he likes to work with actors he establishes a relationship with, and how nice it is to balance big studio films with smaller character-driven TV series. Here are the most important highlights from the interview:

  • They’re currently writing the script now for the Friday Night Lights movie, which he’s looking to start where the finale left off and center around Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, bringing back some of the characters from the series while introducing new characters to the mix
  • He’s looking to get that film into production some time next year, if all goes well
  • He’s currently doing a series for HBO on Freddie Roach, the boxing trainer, called On Freddie
  • He knows that some people want to cheer for Battleship while others want to attack it, but he’s happy that everyone is talking about it and that the trailer broke records for views on YouTube
  • Hasbro’s involvement was to tell them they wanted a big, fun film that worked on a global scale and, if they succeed, Berg feels that will inevitably lead to sequels
  • Berg said he absolutely had to include the “I sunk the battleship” line in the film, and that he aspired to do so in an original way
  • They will have the entire season of Prime Suspect finished, while waiting for Battleship to come out

For more, check out the full interview after the jump:

peter-berg-imageQuestion: How likely is the Friday Night Lights movie?

PETER BERG: We’ve been meeting with Jason Katims, for the last couple of weeks. We have a real good script idea. We want to do it. We’re very serious about doing it. And, we intend to do it.

Are you hoping to get Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton back?

BERG: Yeah. We’re hoping to bring Kyle and Connie back, and some of the other characters, and introduce a whole bunch of new characters. But yes, that’s something we definitely want to do.

So, you want some of the other original cast members of the series as well?

BERG: Yes. I think the goal would be to focus the film around Kyle and Connie, and bring in some new characters, and then bring in some of our familiar faces. We have a really fresh, very original take on it and we’re very serious about wanting to do it.

Do you have a time frame that you’re looking to do it?

BERG: We’re writing the script now. If all goes well, we would shoot it next year, at some point. We’ll see.

Will that continue on from where the finale ended?

BERG: Yes, it would pick up where the finale left, but I think we would figure out a way of getting back to our original roots in Texas.

How is time management going, with everything you have to do?

BERG: It’s busy. I’ve got Battleship coming out next summer, and we’re working hard on that. We’re doing a series for HBO on Freddie Roach, the boxing trainer, called On Freddie. So, we have busy days at Film 44.

What was it like to get the reaction from the Battleship trailer? How is it to finally have people get glimpses of what the film is about?

BERG: It’s great. We broke some record for views on YouTube, which was very unexpected to me. I think there’s been so much inherent curiosity, confusion, anger and excitement towards the film, like “How dare these people make a movie about Battleship?” It just inherently feels like something people want to talk about. They want to cheer it and they want to attack it, but they want to talk about it, and that feels good.

Peter-Berg-imageHow much will the game actually play into things, and how much control does Hasbro have over things?

BERG: It’s an interesting experience. If you talk to Michael Bay, his experience with Transformers is probably very similar. Hasbro just says, “We want to do something big and global.” Big is a word they use a lot. They say, “We want to do something fun and big.” That’s about it. And then, it’s up to the filmmaker to figure out how much or little you want to reference or pay homage to the game. If you’ve seen the teaser, there’s a couple of shots which people have picked up on and some weapons that look a little bit like pegs, being launched by the enemies. There’s a shot overhead that looks somewhat like the board game. It was fun to come up with fun, clever ways of referencing the game in the film that felt as organic as you could be, when you’re making a movie about the board game.

Did you decide to use the, “I sunk your battleship” line, or did you want to be less literal?

BERG: How can you make the movie Battleship, and not use the, “I sunk the battleship” line? And, I promise a strong reaction in theaters. I will say that we aspire to be fairly original in how we deliver that line.

Because Hasbro wanted this film to be so big, did you have to set it up for a possible sequel?

BERG: The way you set up for a sequel is by having a successful film. The focus is on making a successful film, and making a film that travels around the world, and that people enjoy and have fun with, and that people are able to escape with. Films like Battleship are meant to be escapist fun. We’re not intending to change the world dramatically and alter lives. We’re intending to provide a fun experience for people. If you’re successful at that and it works globally, the sequels generally follow.

Peter-Berg-image-2What keeps you wanting to work with Taylor Kitsch?

BERG: I have a tradition of working with actors, over and over again. I’ve worked with Jason Bateman, over and over again. I’ve worked with Jeremy Piven. I’ve worked with Taylor. I’ve worked with Kyle Chandler. You get to know an actor, and you get a certain trust and a comfort, and you become really good friends, and you feel like you’ve got a short-hand. Going and doing a film like Battleship, that’s eight months of pretty exhaustive, intense work and I liked the idea of going into it with someone I know. If I say the wrong thing, he’s not going to take it the wrong way. If we get into an argument, we can, like brothers, make up real quickly. You don’t have a lot of time to spend on that kind of stuff and on personal issues, so I like working with the people I feel comfortable with. I love finding new actors, like the guys on Prime Suspect, but I also really enjoy working with people like Taylor, who I think is super-talented. There’s a comfort level there.

Is it important for you to balance your time between doing such big film productions and doing more character-driven pieces like Prime Suspect?

BERG: Yeah. It’s fun. Doing a film like Battleship is such a special effects-driven experience, so I can sit around for weeks waiting for effects shots to come in. We will have shot the pilot and the entire series of Prime Suspect before Battleship comes out. That’s pretty amazing. So, it’s nice to be able to take a break from Battleship and sit down with (executive producer/writer) Alex [Cunningham] and the writers, and help get involved in stories, and go to the set, and help do something where you don’t have to wait for five months for a shot.