Directly after the RED panel at Comic-Con the press got a chance to take part in an intimate gathering with the group where we got to pick their brains. Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Karl Urban, producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, graphic novel author Warren Ellis and graphic novel artist Cully Hamner were all in attendance and eager to answer our questions about their upcoming action-comedy.
Check out the videos and what the stars had to say…
At this stage in your career does it feel like the right time for action movies?
Bruce Willis: I always question whether it’s the right time for anything I do. I rely a lot of times on my own choices, the scripts I like and stories I like. This film was always ambitious right from the very start. Could have just been defined as an action movie or a comedy or a romantic comedy. The studio and the story was always about that and stayed there. It always felt ambitious. Depending on who you talk to, young guys will tell you it’s an action movie. some people tell you it’s a comedy or it’s a romantic comedy but it weaves all these things together. When it doesn’t move you off of liking the action or liking the comedy or liking the romance. I have a romance in this film! And a romantic comedy. It seems great and I really am pleased with this choice. I think Robert had a lot of things to juggle and a lot of – - I think it would be intimidating for almost anyone to work with this many veteran actors and big movie stars. And Robert managed it every day with a lot of grace…
Lorenzo DiBonaventura: The director has to hold the tone. We have six or seven tones in this movie. one person has to really hold onto that. When Bruce first decided to do the movie. we had conversations about R’s not known for his comedy, how is he going to handle that and how is he going to mix those genres. It was amazing we were able to hold all those tones and it made sense.
Helen Mirren: Robert was very good at maintaining the overall style of acting as well as the overall style of the movie.He was very loose and very easy and very patient.
How do you feel about comic books becoming mainstream in Hollywood?
HM: I’m wearing a t-shirt in [tribute] to Harvey Pekar who I thought was a great, great artist… I thought it was all about comic book heroes and boys kind of stuff. He revealed the fact that a graphic novel could be as deep, complex, personal and psychological as any other work of art: novel, movie, painting, anything. So I think that this world, I think it’s really exciting to see it burgeoning and expanding and changing as it goes into a real total art form. I think we’re at a very exciting point in the whole era, the whole development of comic books. I’m fascinated to see where it’s going to be in another 20 years.
BW: These guys wrote and illustrated a pretty well thought-out story that already had drama in it. It showed up long before it ever made the transition from graphic novel to a film. Would you say 66 pages? You had to take 66 pages of the graphic novel and turn it into 110 or 115 page script and try to fill 90 minutes of it. It was very ambitious and there were many days we said where are we? Robert always knew exactly what we were doing, what the scene was about. I think the story was already really dramatic and very easy to play and very easy to understand. If someone shows you a little too far, you’re going to shove back. All of us were shoving each other and shoving back.
In a world where the biggest movie-going demographic is teen boys, what does RED say about remaining relevant in old age?
BW: The word is certainly used and used in the title of the film. Retired, extremely dangerous. It’s commented on a couple times but when you see the film it’s right now. It’s hip. Karl Urban and I went at it in one of the toughest fights I’ve ever had in my life. … It was deliberately crafted along the lines of mixed martial arts and how violent that is. We were throwing each other around, literally throwing each other around. The fact that you see anyone who is reported to be retired in the film, they’re doing stuff that is sexy and hot and romantic and funny. It’s just one …
KU: Most fun I’ve had in years was having the opportunity to throw Mr Bruce Willis across the room and watch him smash into furniture so well. This film explores the old school techniques vs. new school techniques. They represent the way things used to be done. I play a character who reps the new breed of the CIA. You get to see those two different schools of thought go head to head. Old school is cool school.
HM: I would just say that as an older person, you bring a different energy to the piece and maybe it’s the energy of wisdom and the energy of experience. I think that in a sense is the story of the movie as well that people are bringing their deep experience normal to what they’re doing to this particular job.
What type of skills did you develop?
HM: Well, shooting a gun was all I had to learn really. Apart from that – - but that was fun to do and I did it. I think that that is their relevance amongst us. It’s to do with experience…
How’s your first time at Comic-Con so far?
HM: We were both virgins. We’re not anymore. I was just ravaged.
HM: I’ve had foreplay beforehand and now I got ravaged.
HM: That’s obviously what it’s all about isn’t it? I just went into the big room to see them. That’s what it’s all about. Understanding for the first time, this is where – we obviously travel in a bubble a lot of the time. There is where you actually get to have a really face to face experience with fans. The great thing about Americans is they’re permitted to be enthusiastic about stuff on a grand scale. For me as a Brit, it’s really exciting and endearing. It’s everything you love about America, that commitment and excitement and kind of an innocence about it. … get down and dirty with fans and people.
Why did you feel you had to do this project?
KU: For me that’s very different. This was a dream project in many ways. First off, the people involved. It is very, very rare that you get the opportunity to work on a project with so many extraordinarily talented people…
BW: I was talking with Lorenzo about this I think two years before we started shooting. There was never any way you or I could ever have imagined the richness of what a film could be that has a huge cast of characters in it when all those characters are played by actors you already know and I was already a fan of for a long time. I was excited all the time. What? Who’s? Oh. Just excited. I think we’re just starting to talk about it now. We’re starting to talk about it and get a response and find out how to respond in this film but one thing that’s going to be talked about a lot more is just the phenomenon of having this many actors and this many movie stars in a film being told a good story and telling an ambitious story that’s fun and funny and has action in it.
HM: Not The Queen, Bruce Willis, evening dress, machine gun.
WE: This is going back a long time for me. Seven years ago I read that. I’ve got to go to him to check it’s been that long. I don’t know that whole process from there to here is a bit bizarre. When things got rolling, my agent was telling me who’d been signed and I asked if she was drunk. There has not been a comic book adaptation with a cast like this and frankly there’s not going to be a film this year with a cast this quality.
BW: I hadn’t thought about it like that but I’m still a fan of films. I still go to movies all the time. I like to see what’s out there. I don’t know about you guys but I never think there’s any competition between films. I hear it said but I root for everybody’s film. I especially have a fond place in my heart for graphic novels, for comics. What’s really cool to me about coming here and seeing Comic Con and seeing 7000 people who all dig the same kind of thing is I’ve never seen it. I’ve never seen any other slice of the audience that’s all in one place and all really excited to be here. I think it’s a really cool thing to see. I think we all try to live up to the storyline and I would hope that – - I’d rather have you ask the guys that came up with the idea, did we live up to what that story was? Did we live up to taking htat material and a piece of art in one genre, translating it to another.
WE: I think they were all worried when I told them I knew where they lived. Right from the start I said it’s got to be an adaptation and not a translation. These are two different beasts. Nothing is served by trying to do a direct translation, besides the book is only 66 pages long. … I always knew it had to be expanded. I always knew it had to be an adaptation. If you go in with the mindset of I’ve got to protect my baby… You go have fun with this. The screenwriters I think did an astonishing job. They’ve added new characters, there are many new scenes but everything they’ve added speaks directly to the themes and original intent of the book. They never lose sight of that even when they lighten the tone. As the original author I couldn’t be happier.
Are you afraid of anything in you careers after so many years of acting?
BW: It’s my favorite part of making movies. There are lots of different parts of moviemaking that I participate in… My favorite part is the making of it. I’m scared every day. I keep thinking someone’s going to throw me the ball I’m going to go oh wow, oh god, I just messed that up. Not fear so much as excitement and not that thrill of you have to create something out of 115 typewritten pages and make it be human and lifelike. I think I’m much more afraid of making a mistake in raising my daughters than I would on any work that I do as an actor. It’s a much higher scale of fear, raising kids.
HM: I’m kind of frightened all the time. My life is just overcoming fear. First nights in the theater are always scary. Right now I’m terrified of rubbish in New York. Such a mountain of it. Where does it go? I’m terrified of plastic basically. Plastic packaging is scaring me right now. Get rid of it.
Do you collect?
BW: I don’t collect them but I’ve done a couple movies that are based on them. They all turn out to be really fun projects. Fun to do and there’s just more character in it. There’s just more stuff that’s already there that you can go to. For the most part, people would expect actors to fill in blanks anyway, but the blanks are not blanks anymore. Things you’re upset about, what is your beef, what is my beef in this film, it’s always a lot easier. I am afraid of other things. I thought you were just talking about filmmaking. I’m afraid of a lot of other things in the world.
Like what you read? For more fun, check out our top stories from Comic-Con…
- Watch Ryan Reynolds Recite the Green Lantern Oath to a Little Boy
- Sucker Punch Footage First Look
- Drive Angry 3D Just because It’s Here Doesn’t Mean It’s Wanted
- Thor Footage First Look
- Green Lantern Footage First Look
- Don’t be Afraid of the Dark Press Conference Ghost Story
- Comic-Con 2010 Costumes
- Cowboys and Aliens Footage Description
- Green Lantern Photos of Abin Sur
- Supernatural Season 6 Sneak Peek with Panel Video