Next up in our Resident Evil: Retribution set visit report interview series is our chat with the producing trio of Jeremy Bolt, Don Carmody and Robert Colter, who sat down with Dread as well as a group of other journalists to talk about the latest Resident Evil sequel, which has Paul W.S. Anderson taking the directorial reins for a third time.
During our interview with the producing trio, Bolt, Carmody and Colter discussed the challenges of keeping things fresh when you’re making the fourth sequel in a popular series like Resident Evil, the lowdown on a few new types of zombies that will no doubt be running amok and interfering with Alice’s (Milla Jovovich) plans to bring down the Umbrella Corporation as well as more on the return on some familiar faces from previous RE entries and incorporating new fan favorites.
Check out our interview highlights below, and make sure to check back here soon for more from Dread Central’s recent set visit for Screen Gems’ upcoming sequel Resident Evil: Retribution.
Q: If I’m not mistaken, the last film ends with a boat, with a lot of planes coming at them. It’s a big climax. With this film, do you guys take a little bit of time, or does it just jump right into the action?
Jeremy Bolt: Well, there’s action. There is action.
Don Carmody: Yeah, nonstop.
Jeremy Bolt: This film had a lot of twisting, turning moments. It’s playing, respectfully, with the audience. We want to make people think a little bit, although you’ll enjoy it if you haven’t seen a previous film. If you have seen the previous films, you’ll enjoy it even more. It has that video game spirit, where you have to engage it a little bit.
Q: You’re bringing a lot of characters back from past movies, so will people who haven’t seen those movies still get it?
Jeremy Bolt: Yeah, that’s why it’s called Resident Evil: Retribution, and not Resident Evil 5.
Q: How does that work then? How do you feel that you’re starting fresh, that anyone could come into the world, at this point?
Jeremy Bolt: There will be a voice-over from Alice, who will set the world up. New characters are properly introduced. You don’t need to play the game to know Leon Kennedy and Jill Valentine are coming back. Unlike the previous films, we actually have a sequence which is very much in the real world, which is going to be an interesting part of this version of Resident Evil.
Q: Would that be Oded (Fehr)’s sequence?
Jeremy Bolt: He is in a part of that. This is actually quite difficult to talk about, I’m just realizing (laughter).
Don Carmody: I think everything is explained well enough that, even if you haven’t seen the first few Resident Evils, you’ll understand what’s going on without too much confusion.
Q: I think each movie has really defined itself on Alice’s mission. She’s always discovering something new in herself, which lends itself to the new adventure. How would you describe that arc for her, and how that mirrors the movie, and what you’re going for in this installment to differentiate itself from the rest?
Jeremy Bolt: I think you feel she’s getting very close to the answer, if you like, of the whole Resident Evil franchise. We are within sight of the end- or of something we think might be the end.
Q: There’s been a lot of talk about a potential sixth movie being the end of the Resident Evil series; is ending the series something you’ve given some thought to at all yet?
Robert Colter: Everything has to come to an end. The question is if it’s by your choosing, or if the audience chooses it for you (laughter).
Q: When Paul did Afterlife, he had mentioned something at Comic-Con about a new trilogy. The third one had wrapped up, and he had envisioned a new trilogy. Beyond six- could you guys see doing a Resident Evil from different perspectives and different angles?
Jeremy Bolt: Yeah. I could see a prequel to (Resident Evil) 1, definitely. And, possibly, spinning out another character, yeah. The really exciting thing for us as producers, and Paul as a director, it’s so expensive to release a movie these days, that it gives everyone confidence, so you can get creative under the umbrella of the franchise. This is something studios are doing all the time. If, as Robert said, the box office deserves it, we’ll keep exploring it.
Q: But, going back, how does this one really differentiate itself from the others?
Jeremy Bolt: It’s more science-fiction-y. This is more tricks-y, turn-y, plays respectfully with the audience.
Don Carmody: But, at the same time, it has probably the biggest action.
Q: There’s a big car chase scene as well. Can you talk about shooting that?
Jeremy Bolt: Yes. It was a lot of night work.
Don Carmody: A lot of very cold night work. A lot of machine guns, very loud machine guns.
Q: I was trying to figure out how Russian zombies can drive motorcycles.
Jeremy Bolt: They’ve mutated. The last parasite has enabled them to have certain motor functions and mental abilities- the undead have evolved.
Robert Colter: We’ve moved it from Africa to the streets of Moscow, too.
Q: Can you elaborate about the good and bad aspects of Oded’s character Carlos and Michelle (Rodriguez)’s character Rain? I believe those are the only two characters who have that duality.
Jeremy Bolt: The idea is no one is who you think they are. The only thing you are certain of is that the Umbrella Corporation is all-powerful, is always one step ahead, and Alice is the only one that’s really getting close. We wanted to create an atmosphere where the audience goes, ‘Is that person really Carlos? Is that person really Rain?’ There’s good Carlos and bad Carlos, and it’s very much taken from the world of gaming, where everything can change. We are definitely, as I think Paul has done with the previous movies, taking narrative structure out of the video game world.
Robert Colter: We felt the last movie was really quite linear, pure action-survival so we felt that we definitely had to try something here narratively, from a structural point of view, that would make it more of a mind-bender for the audience. With Alice, you go through the movie and you kind of question everything. As it becomes this ongoing battle for survival of humanity, you might even find humanity in the least likely places, even in your enemies. To a certain degree, they may have things you need for survival. There might be alliances in the story that Alice wouldn’t have trusted, but, for her survival, she might have to make a bargain and see how it goes.
Jeremy Bolt: She is definitely fighting to hold on to her humanity. She has a relationship with a young child in the film, and there’s definitely an echo of a mother-daughter, a little bit of a Ripley-daughter connection. Even though, when you see the film, you might go, ‘Why is she doing this?’
Q: How much is the market guiding the direction of this franchise, i.e. the box office?
Jeremy Bolt: Well, we’re in 3D again. The thing we try in every version of the film is to use different environments, and that has worked for us. We’ve been in the desert in 3, the city in 2, so again here, we’re using different environments. Paul believes you’ve got to give the viewers the promise of something different. I think a number of franchises make the mistake of just making it feel the same. This will feel totally different.
Robert Colter: There is definitely feedback coming from the international distributors. The movie performed so strong internationally, you say, ‘Is there a way to make it a global phenomenon, rather than set it in just one location?’ We were in Raccoon City, we were in Vegas, and we were in Los Angeles. Is there a way we can make it a global event?
Q: You obviously have an open-door relationship with Capcom. What was their reaction when you came to them and said, ‘We need two of the big characters, Leon and Barry, because the fans have been clamoring for them.’?
Jeremy Bolt: And Ada Wong. We have a great relationship so it’s very much, ‘Who are you going to cast? Do they look like the character?’ They were very, very pleased with all of our choices, particularly Li Bingbing, who plays Ada Wong. They visited us on set last week, and they were really blown away by her.
Q: Are they any closer to doing a Capcom game that’s closer to the series?
Robert Colter: I think we’re stealing from each other, in a good way. They are two different worlds. They are so good at what they’re doing, and we try to do our thing. I think we want to keep it that way.
Q: Is there a new breed or reiteration of a previously distinct creature that you guys are particularly excited about?
Jeremy Bolt: Yes. Something has gotten bigger and better finally. We’re doing it properly.
Q: Can you talk about working with Paul and Neal (Moritz?) over these past 10 years and how you’ve grown together?
Jeremy Bolt: Don and I have worked together for five years, and Robert and I have worked for 10 years on the films. We’ve all been a part of this, but I would say Milla, she’s always had a fierce core. If there’s anybody who could take on an alien, it’s probably her. That core has evolved, so now there’s a strength and a toughness about her, but there’s also a strong sense of her being a leader. I think you could definitely see her leading everyone against Umbrella, and literally saving humanity. Paul has evolved from being… he’s always obviously loved the world that we’re in, and he’s always loved the technical aspects.
But I think it’s interesting because, as Milla has evolved, he’s very much become a part of that. They have fallen in love and gotten married so there’s a total synergy between filmmaker and the iconic leading lady. I think that’s really part of why the franchise has worked. From our point of view, Milla is essentially a third partner. From my point of view, that’s interesting because I was partners with Paul for 20 years, and she’s now essentially a partner in this as well.
Don Carmody: Nobody knows Alice better than Alice. She probably knows that character better than Paul.
Robert Colter: Going back to the first one, you really feel it was meant to be. We didn’t really cast her. She cast us. She was basically lobbying to do the character, and we almost had no other choice to take her. Now you look back, and she’s become a really integral part not only in front of the camera, but behind the camera. She’s doing a really good job.
Q: Are there characters that have not yet been announced that might be making an appearance, that are still under the radar?
(Long pause, no answer)
Q: Will we see that character that was in Resident Evil 1 that was supposed to be her “husband” or boyfriend from that movie?
Jeremy Bolt: No. James Purefoy? No, you won’t see him. But there are definitely elements from Resident 1 that come into this. Paul has another movie in his mind which will be the completion of this cycle, and we’re moving towards that. That will definitely connect, in some way, to the first film.
Q: What zombies are you really excited about in this film?
Jeremy Bolt: Well, the Russian motorbike undeads are phenomenal. They’re in their Communist uniforms, on their motorbikes, great makeup from Paul Jones, they’re just terrific. Obviously, it’s more enjoyable for us, having done it for so long now, that the undead are getting a bit more intelligent. After a while you feel sorry for them.
Q: Can you talk about this new venture with Paul- this found-footage project?
Jeremy Bolt: Not really. It’s still very early.
Written and directed by Paul Anderson, Re5ident Evil: Retribution stars Milla Jovovich, Boris Kodjoe, Li Bingbing, Kevin Durand, Shawn Roberts, Michelle Rodriguez, Sienna Guillory, Johann Urb, and Colin Salmon. Look for Re5ident Evil: Retribution in theatres on September 14, 2012 from Screen Gems.
Got news? Click here to submit it!
Play games in the comments section below!