Exclusive Interview: Renny Harlin on Devil’s Pass & Hercules 3D
CraveOnline: You’ve made less of the tentpole movies in the last 10 years. Is Hercules 3D going to be a big comeback in the tentpole genre for you?
Renny Harlin: Yes, definitely. It’s kind of like a dream movie for me. It’s a movie that I dreamt of when I was a kid growing up watching big, old Hollywood movies like Ben-Hur or Spartacus or something like that. To me it’s everything a good movie should have which is an epic canvas and a big, big story, a great love story and a great action-adventure story. Just the whole making of it has been a great process. I was one of the writers of the script and I was able to really pour a lot of my own fantasies into the film, and Hercules being sort of the archetype of every superhero, every comic book hero.
Really if you look at their origins, it all really comes from the Greek mythology. It all comes from Hercules. So being able to do the kind of origin story of the young Hercules who is growing up, how he accepts his destiny and his role in life and in the future of mankind, it was fascinating to me. Right now I’m editing the film for a winter or early spring release, and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s definitely a huge, big tentpole movie and I’d love to see the audience really get a kick out of it.
What sort of big set pieces were you able to do now in the year 2013 that you maybe couldn’t have even dreamed of when you started as a filmmaker?
I have a battle scene that lasts six minutes that is all one shot, and covers a sea battle and ground battle and hand to hand combat and sword fighting, spears and bows and arrows and flying boulders, all done in one shot that never cuts. I’ll give you that spoiler. That’s one of the biggest shots I’ve ever created. And then there are just numerous battle scenes and fight scenes involving thousands of soldiers and horses and every imaginable weapon that I don’t think anybody could have done in the old days. I never want to rely fully on CG because it, to me, becomes too unreal but it can be a great tool for when you are creating a historical setting and want to really show the size of those kinds of situations. CG can really give you something that was not possible to be done 20 years ago.
How many takes did you do of the six-minute shot?
I did quite a few takes. It was shot for several days and I did probably a dozen takes. It was a big, big deal and if one thing goes wrong, nothing else would work. It was just an incredible combination of teamwork with different departments, a lot of extras, a lot of stunts and horses, very dangerous situations that just had to come together perfectly.
Which take is going to be in the film?
Second to last. I liked that take more than the last take. There was just one mistake in it but I was able to fix that digitally so that I don’t have to worry about it.
Do you think Hercules could be R-rated?
No, Hercules is going to be PG-13. It’s big time action but it’s not a bloodbath. If you look at a lot of these superhero movies, whether it’s Iron Man or Thor or a lot of these other films, even something like World War Z, you can suggest a lot, you can show a lot, you can get all the action across without having to make it a bloodbath where the blood is spraying everywhere. Those movies are great as well but this one I just think I really want the story of Hercules to be accessible to a younger audience as well because I think they will really enjoy it.
Andrew Dice Clay gave a great performance in Woody Allen’s movie Blue Jasmine this year. Do we have you to thank for Andrew Dice Clay’s acting shops from Ford Fairlane?
[Laughs] No, Andrew Dice Clay is his own man and his own creator. I love him. I loved working with him. I think he is one of the most underrated talents out there and it’s incredible what kind of resilience he has shown by staying in the business, even if he sometimes has to resort to a very small lounge act in Vegas. It’s almost like he is mirroring some of his idols from the past who have their ups and downs, some old famous comedians. I think it’s great what he did in Blue Jasmine and I’m sure that’s going to open a lot of doors for him and he’ll really play interesting characters. I want to see him in a Scorsese movie next. I think that’s what’s going to happen.
There was that great documentary on the Nightmare on Elm Street series, Never Sleep Again but there seemed to be some mystery about why Patricia Arquette didn’t return for part IV, your film. Wasn’t it just that she was pregnant when you were shooting?
You know, I’m going to be honest and it sounds unbelievable, but it’s been like 25 years and I can’t for the life of me remember anymore. The pregnancy thing sounds very believable but I’m not sure about it. All I know is that she was unavailable. We had a breakneck schedule, we had to get the movie shot and out in the theaters in August and she for some reason was not available, and I don’t remember what the reason was.
Well, that will remain the great mystery of the ages.