Exclusive Interview: Len Wiseman Talks Underworld: Awakening, Gives Total Recall Update and More
Dread Central recently caught up with writer/producer/franchise creator Len Wiseman, who graciously took a few moments out from working on his director's cut of Total Recall to chat with us about Underworld: Awakening (review here), the latest entry in the series that began back in 2003 with a then up-and-coming Wiseman at the helm.
During our interview with Wiseman, we spoke with him about the need to change things up for a fourth installment of Underworld, his thoughts on the evolution of his wife Kate Beckinsale as Selene throughout the series and a brief update on his upcoming remake of Total Recall.
Wiseman discussed his initial concerns over making another Underworld sequel since he really wasn't interested in rehashing anything that fans had experienced in the original trilogy.
"Doing a fourth Underworld movie was both nerve-wracking and insanely exciting all at the same time," explained Wiseman. "Our biggest concern going into Awakening was that we didn't want to do something that had already been done before so we created a completely new world. Previously werewolves and vampires were hidden cultures, and now that they've been discovered by the humans, the opening montage plays like both species' worst fears actualized. Opening up the world like this made me a bit nervous because we've never really stepped outside the box of our original mythologies like this; with a fourth film, though, you have to be willing to take some risks."
"We knew from the start we wanted to go darker in Awakening; the directors (Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein) came on board the project as huge fans of the franchise, and their goal was to get the scares back into the story- something that we had strayed from in the last Underworld movie. They wanted to play on the animalistic violence of both species and the kind of violence human beings could be capable of as well. They also wanted Selene to be a darker character as well and play into her mindset; she's been taken advantage of for 12 years and manipulated in a world she doesn't understand so all she has is vengeance on her mind," added Wiseman.
The Underworld co-creator went on to discuss his thoughts on how spouse Beckinsale's performance in this latest film has evolved since the first time she donned her now trademark bodysuit for the role of Selene back in 2003. "For me personally, it's really great to see Kate becoming more comfortable as Selene in Awakening. You can see her confidence in her ability to become a badass is much higher in this film than I've ever seen it before. When we did the first Underworld, she had never done an action film before so she had to really work to find that kind of character within herself and bring Selene to life. I feel like with each movie Kate is more badass than the time before it, and I think the fans will be pleased to see her come back."
Even though making movies in 3D these days seems to be all the rage, it turns out that the one original holdout on making Underworld: Awakening in the eye-popping format was Wiseman, who wasn't convinced you could pull off a great-looking action movie in 3D.
Wiseman said, "I was actually the last one who was on board with making Awakening in 3D because I've never really seen a successful 3D action flick around the time we were working on the script. Avatar is great, but it's 90 percent CGI worlds where Underworld is very much a live-action world so I didn't really have a gauge on if this movie would work in 3D or not. But we did months and months of testing on so many different camera set-ups just to see what would work best, and finally I was happy with what we could do with the RED so that's what we went with. We're actually the first 3D movie shot on the RED so that's pretty cool."
With the release of Underworld: Awakening this weekend, we asked Wiseman about the potential for further entries in the franchise and what was the status on his latest directorial effort, Total Recall, which is slated to arrive in theaters later this year on August 3rd.
"I honestly never expected there to be a fourth Underworld," explained Wiseman. "I had really only ever hoped at the beginning that we'd be able to just do a trilogy so we could carry out that entire storyline we established in the first movie. What's funny is that the idea for part four actually came up during Evolution because we all wondered what would be the result of Selene and Michael's 'hooking up' so we just tucked that idea away into a drawer until the time was right. But I think Awakening is definitely a bit of a new beginning for the Underworld franchise so who knows, we may be able to come back for another movie if the story is there. It's too soon to tell really."
"And I'm in what I like to call a 'happy place' for Total Recall. I'm currently wrapping up my director's cut, which is around two hours right now, and everything about this whole process has gone incredibly well. I'm usually a bit more nervous about sharing my work with others, but this one... I cannot wait for everyone to see what we've done on it," added Wiseman.
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