Answers with director Paul W.S. Anderson from the ďSummer of SonyĒ International
Press Junket - Cancun, Mexico
Evil: Afterlife did huge box office around the world. What is it about this
series that makes it resonate so strongly with global audiences?
A. Itís going to
sound a little cheesy but [these movies] are really made with love and with a
passion. The people in front of the camera and the people behind the camera are
all there to make the best possible movie. In moviemaking, that doesnít always
happen. People are there for different reasons: they want to make money; they
think itís a good career movie; itís the only movie they could get. These movies
only get made because we really, really want to make them. I think that shows. I
think theyíre incredibly well made movies made with passion and energy. Whatís
happened slowly over time is that, as the movies have become more successful,
Iíve had more resources to make them, so theyíve actually become slightly bigger
movies as well, which I think has suited the way the franchise was built. I did
a movie called Alien vs. Predator, which Iím happy about because Alien
is one of my favorite franchises. The jump that happened between Alien
and Aliens is an object lesson on how to develop a franchise. I think
that when James Cameron looked at Ridley Scottís movie, I imagine he went, ďFuck
it. I canít make a better movie than that. Thatís as good as that movie could
ever be. How am I going to make a movie that follows Ridleyís movie?Ē What he
smartly decided to do was make a slightly different kind of movie. He didnít
make the monster/haunted house movie that Alien is at its heart. He made
a combat action movie with aliens in it. That was the start of a very successful
franchise and thatís what Iíve always tried to follow in my rationale for
building the Resident Evil franchise: to make each movie slightly
different so the audience gets a different experience. We never rest on our
laurels and we never repeat what weíve already done.
Michelle, Paul & Milla
Q. If you and
Milla had a martial arts fight, who would win?
A. I wouldnít
stand a chance. Iím beginning to think I wouldnít stand a chance against my
daughter, either. Sheís only four and a half but she goes to Taekwondo class.
ďTae-Kwon-Do! Yes I can!Ē Sheís got the white outfit. Itís hysterical.
Q. How powerful
are you at home?
A. I have no power
at home. Thatís why I have to direct movies. Itís the only way I get any kind of
power. Itís the only way I get any kind of respect.
Q. Do you think
Milla could direct one of these movies herself at this point?
A. I donít think
she wants to direct.
Q. But could she
A. Sheís very
accomplished. Sheís a very smart woman. She knows a lot about scripts and a lot
about camera angels and a lot about lenses. On set, she said to the director of
photography, ďMove that light over there a little bit.Ē And sheíll be right
because sheís spent so long in front of the camera. I think thereís nothing she
canít do. Being a director is a different kind of discipline. Itís a year and a
half of your life. Sheíd be crazy to want to do my job.
Q. Len Wiseman and
Kate Beckinsale are another director/action heroine couple. Are you friendly
A. Iíve known Len
since he made Underworld. I went to his cutting room when he was cutting
the first Underworld in London because he used Martin Hunter, who had cut
Mortal Kombat and Event Horizon and Soldier for me. So Iíve
known Len for years. I bump into him all the time. Weíre both on the Sony lot
right now cutting movies so Iíve been very friendly with him. Actually, Milla
and Kate had never met until this yearís Vanity Fair [Oscar] party. I saw Len.
He saw me. The girls were there. So they met and they got on like a house on
Q. Who would win
in a martial arts fight between those two?
A. I think weíd
probably have to make that movie. I donít want to give it away. The big argument
is, would it be Underworld vs. Resident Evil or Resident Evil vs.
Q. Are you
planning to wrap this series up soon?
A. We made a
trilogy of movies with the first three. You dream about making more than one
movie. Although I may talk about making another movie, I never assume weíre
going to. I think itís incredible hubris to just assume you can make another one
and another one and another one. If this movie doesnít work, there wonít be
another Resident Evil movie and I know that. Thatís why every movie I
make I put everything into it. For most movies I assume itís going to be my last
movie and Iíll get fanned out and no one will allow me to make another movie so
I throw all the shit against the wall to try and make the best possible movie.
But, you canít help but kind of imagine it. What I would like to do is kind of
bring the franchise full circle with the end of the second trilogy and literally
come back to the very genesis of the franchise and the very first film. Thatís
why, in this movie, youíre starting to see characters return that you havenít
seen for ten years. Itís all headed back to that inception point.
Q. How far along
are you in writing the next one?
A. Itís all
fleshed out in my mind. I know exactly what it is. This movie is a stand-alone
movie. Iíve always felt that, with Resident Evil, you should be able to
go see the film and have not seen any of the previous movies. I try and make it
so it works for you. If youíve never seen the first four, it doesnít matter. You
can still go and see this one. I think that worked with the last movie because
we basically doubled the international audience for it. So there must have been
a lot of people going to see it who had never seen the others and they enjoyed
it. I want you to be able to watch each movie out of context and have it still
work as a movie. But if you watch the whole thing then you get more out of it.
Q. When youíre
writing these films, do you have total creative freedom or do you have to work
with Capcom, creators of the game series?
A. I have great
respect for Capcom and the creators of the game. The very first thing I did
before I shot a frame on film on the first movie was I got on a plane and went
to Osaka and I spent two days in a window-less room with terrible jetlag
pitching how I saw the movie and the franchise. I heard what their opinions were
and I listened to them. Of course, I changed some things. Thatís been our
relationship ever since. I have tremendous respect for them because Iíve been
involved in Resident Evil for a decade. Theyíre the people who created
the whole world in the first place so you have to have respect for them. But I
also think theyíre smart enough to understand that a successful movie adaptation
cannot just be a slavish adaptation of the video game, frame by frame. One of
the things that has led to some of these video game adaptations not working is
that sometimes they take too many liberties and sometimes they donít take
enough. Itís a fine balancing act between the two. The creators of the game at
Capcom trust me enough as a filmmaker to know that theyíre in good hands and
that Iím not going to do anything thatís disrespectful to their franchise. Iím
going to do different things in the world of the movie but Iím never going to
contradict anything they do. Iím not going to go kill a character that theyíre
like, ďDonít kill him! Heís in the next video game.Ē Theyíre on parallel paths,
the video game franchise and the movie franchise, but theyíre not
Q. At what point
did the movies start to make more than the video games?
A. I have no idea.
I donít get any money out of the games. Maybe the games make more money.
Q. How do you come
up with the monsters for each film?
A. Thatís easy. I
just look at the video games. One of the things thatís incredibly strong in the
games are the creatures, the zombies, the monsters. So I just take them straight
from the game. We have a very open conversation with fans and we find out which
are the most popular creatures. That also has an effect on what we put in the
Q. Whoís a better
gamer, you or Milla?
A. Me. I came to
the franchise because I lost a month of my life. I was locked in a room at home
just playing the first three games back to back, whereas Milla would watch over
the shoulder of her little brother as he played. So I know that if it came down
to a battle on the video game consul, thatís at least one battle I could win. I
could win the virtual battle.
Q. So at this
moment, do you think thereís one more film in the franchise?
A. At this moment,
I think itís this film. For me, itís all about this movie and if this movie does
well, I would love to make another movie to round everything off.
Q. Did the 3-D
technology change a lot between shooting Afterlife and this film?
A. Yes. Weíre kind
of on the bleeding edge of technology because itís a relatively new technology
and the cameras kind of reinvented it with Avatar. So the rigs and the
cameras change every time I make a movie and Iím making a movie every twelve
months. The unique thing for this film is I got the opportunity to have cameras
built for the way I shoot by the director of photography that I use, whom Iíve
used on my last few films. On this one, he said, ďLook, Paul, Iím tired of
hearing you complain that you canít do things. So Iím going to build you a rig
where you can do everything you want to do.Ē I think the 3-D on this film is
going to be pretty spectacular. I think itís going to take 3-D to the next level
because itís custom-built rigs that are doing things I donít think any filmmaker
has done before with a 3-D rig.
Horizon is turning fifteen. Is this movie still special for you?
A. I love it. We
did some of the photography for this movie in Toronto and while we were there, a
cinema there showed Event Horizon on the big screen and I did a Q & A
before it. It was on a work night so I turned up for the Q & A and then I was
going to watch the first two minutes of the movie then go to bed because I was
sort of tired. I started watching it and I just hadnít seen it on the big screen
in ten years. It looked so cool. So I ended up staying for the entire movie. So
I love that film. It was a pretty unique time in my career. I had just come off
a huge hit [Mortal Kombat] and when you have a huge hit, the studio
trusts you. And they had Titanic, which they were obsessed with. So all
of their effort was going to Mexico to get shouted at by James Cameron so no one
came to London to visit me so I just kind of made this movie and I made it
exactly how I wanted to. Then they saw it and were just horrified by it. ďWhat
were you doing?Ē Iím like, ďDid you watch the dailies?Ē It became obvious that
they didnít because they were just concerned with Cameron. So it was a rare
opportunity to make a studio movie where I had total creative control to make
something that was truly so much more horrific and dark and edgy than they ever
would have wanted.
Q. Maybe you could
convert it into 3-DÖ
A. It would be
pretty horrible, all that stuff coming out at you.
Q. You mentioned
that you are an Aliens fan. Are you excited for
Unless Iím working, Iím going to be the first in line.