Set Visit Interview: Paul W.S. Anderson Talks Resident Evil: Retribution, the Future of the Franchise and More
Q: We asked (Producer) Jeremy (Bolt) earlier and he said that tomandandy is coming back to do the score for you. What do you have in mind sound wise for the score? Will it be something similar to Afterlife?
A: It will be a kind of progression on it. I want to kind of mesh their more electronic stuff with an orchestra this time. So it has a kind of more epic…it still has that cool tomandandy feel, but it has a more epic scope to it.
Q: The score for Event Horizon was very aggressive. The score was just pounding and pounding; I really liked it.
A: Hopefully what we can do is…there we combined Michael Kamen, who is very kind of orchestral and orbital. That was…I think with tomandandy we can get the same kind of feel, but with them. They are very experienced composers now but what they obviously love is electronic. The track they composed for the opening of the last movie is one of my favorite bits of movie music in any of my movies.
Q: Have you figured out the Umbrella Corporation and where ultimately everything is or in each movie are you sort of like, “We don’t have to worry about it yet.”?
A: You know, they are just this web of evil and they are ever growing with their fantastic graphic design (laughter) and their lack of attention to detail. It is like they build these incredible facilities and these death dealing machines, but they never manage to use them in the correct way. They always build too many vents and access shafts. (laughter)
Q: That is true, but you know what I am saying. You mentioned that the 6th film you could see as the series finale. Have you always thought, “Well, the actual final headquarters is in Barcelona”- for example?
A: I have a very definite idea of where their final layer will be, but I can’t tell you. But it will look beautiful. (laughter) Yet it will be easy to get into somewhere. (laughter)
Q: Are we going to see what happens to Chris and Claire in this one? Obviously, Wentworth (Miller) and Ali (Larter) are not back, or are they?
A: (laughs) No, Wentworth and Ali are not back but their characters are still in the franchise.
Q: When did you first come up with the idea of having these good and bad versions of people?
A: It was really thinking about it and we had talked about it for years about bringing Michelle back because I just loved working with her so much. She was such a cool part of the first movie and the more I thought about Michelle, the more I thought about how she really as an actor has been unable to explore other aspects of her career because she is always cast as the same character, and I am guilty of that of course. At the start of her career, I casted her as the bad girl with a machine gun.
But now since then, it has been 10 years of her playing the bad girl with a machine gun a lot of the time. I wanted to kind of give her an opportunity to play something different and she was very excited about that. So that where the idea of characters that are both good and bad came from. It was to give her an opportunity to kind of spread her wings a little bit because I do think that she is an underrated actress. No one rocks a heavy machine gun like Michelle Rodriguez. We have bits of footage and it is just incredible. She is firing this huge big ass machine gun and bullets are coming out in slow motion and she never blinks and never hesitates. The only time she gets flustered is if she doesn’t reload the magazine properly or fast enough. She is like a real pro. She is ready to go to war and she does it really, really well. But some of the most fun things in this movie has been watching her trying to walk around in a pair of high heel shows because that is the real challenge for her. That has been the kind of fun stuff.
Q: We saw her take a shot of something during the scene you're filming. She was explaining that it sort of made her stronger or more impervious to bullets or something like that. Is that the case? I’m not sure.
A: She injects herself with a Las Plagas parasite. It is kind of taken from the game. There is a moment in the game where one of the characters injects themselves and we built exactly the same injection device. We are framing the shots in exactly the same way. So there will be a kind of unpleasant little parasitic creature in that vile that you will see squirted into her veins. It is a theme in all of the games with characters injecting themselves and they develop their super powers, but they pay the price for it.
Q: How do you work with a fight choreographer in order to bring your vision to life?
A: I am working with Nick Powell again, who I worked with on The Three Musketeers. I really like Nick because as a fight choreographer and second-unit director he is the full package. He directs the second-unit, but he also helps choreograph the fights. He did The Bourne Identity, which I thought at the time really revolutionized the kind of look of action movies. So he has done that, but at the other end of the spectrum he also did all of the sword work on Gladiator. He is also phenomenal at car chases as well. He did all of the car chases in the first Bourne movie. He directed all of that. So he was a good all around talent to bring in. Basically he and I sat down and I showed him the inspiration from the video games. We discuss where we can kind of take that inspiration and build upon it; we also watch a lot of movies together.
Q: What kind of movies did you watch for this one?
A: We watched a lot of Thai movies this time around because of the movies he has done. He did The Last Samurai as well. He has worked with a lot of Japanese stuntmen and he has worked with a lot of Hong Kong stuntmen. But we felt the area that hadn’t been mined by western cinema much was that whole kind of high impact Thai style of fighting. So we just watched a lot of action sequences from a lot of Thai movies. There were moves and just a general feel that we thought we could infuse the movie with. You know, that kind of bone crunch where you really feel the impact. We tried to bring that into the movie, which is also good for 3D because obviously 3D makes it harder to sell those kinds of fake phony punches because you see the distance between the fist and the face. So that kind of Thai style of fighting where you actually make contact is a lot stronger.
Q: We see the submarine coming out through the ice in the scene we were just watching. How much time do you guys spend in the sub in the movie?
A: You see the subs a lot in the movie, but there is not really much inside of the submarine. It is just because I wanted to get the characters there. It is more of getting from point A to point B.
Q: It has been over 12 years since you first got involved with the Resident Evil franchise. Can you draw a line from that point back then to today both in terms of the relationship with the franchise, working with Milla, your own career, and this whole journey that you have been on?
A: It has been a fabulous journey. I am very excited about what we have managed to do with the franchise. I always refer to the first Resident Evil movie as “the little movie that could” because at the time it was kind of unfashionable to do video game movies. There had been several that hadn’t work. Mortal Kombat, the one I had made, was one of the few movies that had actually done well. But then the sequel to that didn’t do well at all. It was also an R rated movie at the time when American studios didn’t really want R rated movies. It was right after Columbine and all of the studios had said, “We are not doing R rated movies anymore.” They were really backing off from it.
So when we put the movie together it was pretty much financed all out of North America. There was no studio deal attached to it. Sony only became involved in it during principal photography. I remember that the deal we had on it was that if the movie didn’t do incredibly well at its first American test, and these are incredibly stressful things for a filmmaker anywhere where you go and first put your movie in front of the public, but if we didn’t score certain amounts they could have put the movie straight to DVD. It really felt like the movie that nobody wanted. I vividly remember reading a review of it. I think it was The Hollywood Reporter or Variety. I can’t remember which, but it was one of the two trade papers that said, “This movie basically has no audience. It was made for no one and no one wants to go see it. IT has no audience.”
And then the movie did have an audience. It scored huge and really played to an audience. The movie did really well and the franchise built from that point because we all stuck behind it I think. Milla stayed in the franchise and I stayed attached to it because I had been involved in franchises where I hadn’t stayed attached and I felt like the franchise went off in the wrong direction. So I am really proud that this tiny little movie that was made in Berlin, made all with foreign movie, made by a European crew, and starring a woman from Russia kind of had built into a big success. The fact that each movie has successfully done better I am very proud of.
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.
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