of vforvendetta.com, Newsarama has received a copy of the transcript
from Friday’s V for Vendetta press conference held in Berlin.
Attending were Producers Joel Silver and Grant Hill, director JAMES
McTEIGUE, and stars Natalie Portman and JAMES PUREFOY.
Both video and
photos from the conference can be found at www.vforvendetta.com
MC: I would like to welcome you on behalf of
Warner Bros. and the Babelsberg Studios to a very special press conference
in a very unique location. This upcoming Monday the Babelsberg Studios
and this set - that will be the rooftop of the Old Bailey - will be
the center of attention for one of the most anticipated movies that
are currently being filmed. The Wachowski Brothers and Joel Silver
have gathered an amazing team of in front of and behind the camera
to bring Alan Moore’s and David Lloyd’s comic book, V FOR VENDETTA,
welcome the cast and crew of V FOR VENDETTA, starting with the Director
James McTeigue, Golden Globe winning actress Natalie Portman [in the
role of Evey], Producer Joel Silver, actor James Purefoy [in the role
of V], and last but not least, Producer Grant Hill.
Silver, let’s get started straight away, you’ve been working with
the Wachowski Brothers on a couple of movies; how much convincing
did it actually take them to get you working on V FOR VENDETTA?
SILVER: We worked on V FOR VENDETTA
long before we made The Matrix. The Brothers had done a script for
this project several years ago and they then jumped onto The Matrix
and we did all those three movies. They came to me in the post-production
of those movies, saying they’d like to revive that picture. James
had worked very closely with us on The Matrix
films and had directed all the advertising, publicity and promotional
things we did for The Matrix,
so the boys said why don’t we have James direct it. That was a great
idea, so they went back to the script and re-crafted it and thought
about what it would be like today, and they re-wrote it and brought
it to the board and here we are today.
Natalie Portman: Is this some sort of classic
damsel in distress kind of a role; what kind of a woman are you playing?
PORTMAN: Definitely not a damsel
in distress. Maybe she begins as a damsel in distress, and then she
sort of learns how to take matters into her own hands.
to James McTeigue: You have worked with the
Wachowski Brothers and with George Lucas; what did you learn from
McTEIGUE: Well obviously they’re
both - the Wachowskis and George - are both great filmmakers; it is
always a pleasure to be surrounded by very intelligent filmmakers.
The things that I have learnt from them I will bring into this film.
They’re all great at their craft so it is a learning process the whole
Natalie Portman: Describe a little more
what this movie is about and the role you play in it.
PORTMAN: I think this film is about
the power of people to play an active role when the government is
not looking after the people; the people have the right to revolt,
to make their minds heard, and to speak their opinions. It is about
a very oppressive regime, it’s based on the graphic novel by Alan
Moore and very true to that spirit of the Guy Fawkes November 5th
gunpowder plot. It’s all about - as I’m sure you’ll hear - governments
being afraid of their people, not the people being afraid of their
Natalie Portman: Is your character a freedom
fighter or a terrorist?
PORTMAN: That’s one of the big
questions that this film raises and sparks debate about.
James McTeigue: How close to the original
spirit of the comic is the film going to be; what have you kept and
what have you changed?
McTEIGUE: It is very close to the
themes of Alan Moore’s graphic novel, however like all great adaptations
for film there are things that you have to lose and things that you
keep; it runs very close to what Alan Moore wrote and what he was
trying to say.
James McTeigue: Was there a particular
reason why this is being filmed in East
Germany about a totalitarian state?
For example, is the architecture useful or are there many outdoor
scenes, or was it a matter of economics?
McTEIGUE: Our pre-production time
was very limited and Berlin, as
you can see around you, has a great history of filmmaking. We wanted
to come somewhere where we could start up and get going in a very
short amount of time, where we knew we’d have the support, so that’s
more or less why we came to Berlin. As you can see around you a lot
of our work is on stages, and there are great stages here, as well
as the great production value and crew we can get from here.
Natalie Portman: Are you much of a comic
fan, and if not what was the factor in accepting this role?
not a big comic person in general, but this film was just… I got it
[the script] and I didn’t expect to leave with days and days and days
of thinking about it, and thinking about all the questions it brought
up: the moral issues, the philosophical issues and political issues,
that you think about after you read this script. It’s an amazing character
too… I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s really relevant
to our times I think, although unfortunately these kinds of events
repeat themselves, so it’s sort of relevant to all times I suppose.
Joel Silver: This movie is one of those
big special effects monsters, can you talk a little bit about numbers;
how much of the money will go into special effects? I see there is
a big green screen over here that makes me think we can expect a lot
SILVER: It’s more a kind of people
centered picture than The Matrix was. There are a lot of visual effects
in the movie - not so much CGI - and there’s a lot of miniature work
in this picture too. We’re making the movie here and in the UK; it
was economically advantageous for us to do that. There are wonderful
opportunities for us now to make these pictures in these kinds of
locales. We’ve shot many films in Australia, which
were also good to shoot there as well, but we do need the architecture
in the UK and
we do need exterior sets and locations here in Germany, so
it’s the perfect place to make the picture. It’s not an enormously
expensive movie, but it is not a low budget film either.
James Purefoy: Could you explain a little
bit what you are doing in this movie and is this maybe your big break
as you are the main lead of the film? I was hoping you would get a
main part so you could have your biggest break through yet. Is this
the movie that could deliver that for you?
PUREFOY: That’s a very good question…
when you’re wearing a mask, there’s going to be a very big challenge
involved for me. As you can see that mask up there is the thing that
I’ll be wearing all through the movie; we’ll never see my face. I
think that’s something that the fans of the comic book are going to
be very pleased about: you should never see the guy’s face because
it makes him infinitely more mysterious. So I’m looking forward to
it, I think it’s a great acting challenge.
Joel Silver: The book had three stories
in ten chapters and Mr. Silver you are the master of franchise movies,
so will this be a one-off movie, or is this planned as being one,
two, three, four, five V FOR VENDETTAS?
SILVER: This is it; this is the
story. It doesn’t go past this movie, that is the intention.
Joel Silver: So you are saying the
whole movie is based on the book?
SILVER: Absolutely, from the beginning
to the end.
Natalie Portman: You have played a lot
of very different and challenging roles; what will be the challenge
on this film for you?
on this film is I think for this woman is there’s a real transformation
in who she is, from being someone who is very passive in her political
setting, to being a much more active voice. That transformation I
think is going to be the main point of interest for me working on
James McTeigue: It’s a comic book, so
therefore it’s a virtual storyboard; is that limiting for you visually,
or is that the best thing you could possibly have?
McTEIGUE: It has its advantages
sometimes… if I ever got stuck for a shot I know where I could go
to! It is great because the great thing about graphic novels, even
though there are visuals there, it’s about you starting with that
as a point and then taking it somewhere else. That’s what we’ve done
with the film: we’ve tried to amalgamate all the themes that Alan
Moore so brilliantly portrayed and David Lloyd the artist drew, and
we’ve taken it as a leaping off point.
James McTeigue: This is your first role
as a Director rather than as a First Assistant Director; how do you
feel about that?
McTEIGUE: I feel good about that!
James McTeigue: Are you looking forward
to it? Do you imagine there’ll be many problems? Do you think your
previous experience is going to help?
McTEIGUE: Obviously my previous
experience will help a lot. Films can sometimes be daunting, but I
do have a lot of experience with small budget films to very large
budget films. It’ll help in the process, it certainly won’t hinder.
Natalie Portman: Evey goes through a very
tough time, she is put in jail and subjected to torture, I was wondering
how much of a method actress are you; will you be losing weight and
shaving your head for the role?
PORTMAN: I will be shaving my head
and losing weight… not to a self endangering point, but I won’t be
getting tortured at home. I will be going through a physical transformation.
Joel Silver: Several movies have been
made from Alan Moore’s work, but he’s been famously reluctant to get
involved, and cynical about the whole process. Did you have any dialogue
with Alan Moore, has he had any commentary with you about this movie,
or any involvement on the actual project?
SILVER: Larry Wachowski has spoken
with him and he hasn’t been very happy with some of the movies that
have been made from some of his comic books. He was very excited about
what Larry had to say and Larry sent the script, so we hope to see
him sometime before we’re in the UK. We’d
just like him to know what we’re doing and to be involved in what
we’re trying to do together.
Joel Silver: How much are the production
costs and how much is to be spent in Germany?
SILVER: The bulk of the movie
will be shot here [in Germany], we’re shooting here for about ten
of the twelve weeks, so the bulk of the production will be spent her,e
and then we will be shooting for two weeks in the UK and finishing
the movie in the UK. It’s a costly film, I can’t sit and give you
actual budget figures, but it isn’t outrageous in that there are movies
we’ve done that are far more costly. We’re very happy to have a facility
here - it’s a great facility - the stages are exactly the way we want
them. The craftspeople who have been working with Owen Paterson, who
is our Production Designer who came from Australia and worked on the
Matrix films with us, is very happy with his crews here, so I think
we’ll probably end up being here again as well.
Joel Silver: I have a question for
Mr. Joel Silver about Alan Moore adaptations. I understand that you
were also previously the producer of Watchmen, so I’d like to ask
you if this is the right time to do complicated and challenging comic
adaptations like V FOR VENDETTA and Watchmen; do you think post 9/11
is the perfect zeitgeist?
SILVER: I was involved with Watchmen
for a while, but I am no longer involved with Watchmen. I just think
that the certain matter of this project is right for now; it feels
right for now, it’s a project that I think has great resonance right
now. I think that the way the boys have constructed the story and
they’ve crafted the characters with James and Natalie and how they’ve
worked on the characters with James McTeigue the Director, it’s really
the perfect time and place for this movie. Everything has just lined
up great, so I’m very excited right now.
Natalie Portman: What are your experiences
with Germany so far, and with Berlin? Have you gotten to see anything,
are you going to try weird German food while you are here; how is
the German experience going to be for you?
PORTMAN: I am
very excited to spend time here, I have only been here for two days
and have been working a lot so I haven’t had a chance too see anything
substantial although I have had two very good restaurant experiences
so far. Weird German food I don’t know about because I’m vegetarian,
so it’s sort of limited to how weird I can get, but anything that
is vegetarian I am willing to try. Otherwise I am really looking forward
to checking out the city, it has such an incredible history and all
the people I’ve met here have been really, really, really wonderful,
so I’m looking forward to spending time here.
Natalie Portman: As you are used to working
away from home, how do you prepare for such stints here or in Australia
or in England?
PORTMAN: A lot of books, CDs, things
that remind me of home, and hopefully getting my parents come visit
and friends come visit, and really trying to interact with the environment,
checking out the city, becoming friendly with the people we work with
and forging those bonds so you have your own little family while you’re
away from home.
James McTeigue: Will you be seeking to
put any sort of James McTeigue stamp on this film and how much creative
latitude have you been given, or have you been strictly advised to
stick slavishly to the original comic?
McTEIGUE: Let me answer this in
two ways. Slavishly to the comic: the comic is a very dense work so
in all adaptations you have to streamline it for the filmmaking process.
As far as creativity: lots. There are no restrictions or bounds put
on it… with the boys and with me it is the interpretation. All great
films have great scripts and you’ll usually find that a great film
is based on a great script, so that’s where we’re taking it from:
it is a great script.
Joel Silver: The original
graphic novel is a very dark book, it’s not a simple pure good vs
evil thing. You have fascists with homes and feelings and family,
and you also have V being a terrorist and killing people, so it’s
not a real simple story. How much will you have to step back from
the original novel not to get an R rating for instance?
SILVER: We’re not really worried
about the rating right now, we’re trying to make the best movie we
can, it may be an R rating, we aren’t sure. I mean, the essence of
the movie is what Natalie said, that people shouldn’t be afraid of
their governments, the governments should be afraid of their people,
and that’s the essence of the story and that’s what we’re going to
be pursuing; that’s the story. It is a smart, intelligent piece of
material but also very visual and very exciting. There is a hero and
heroine and it’s really a wonderful journey that we can take with
the story, and I think the audience will take the journey with us.
So we’re going to venture into a magical unusual world and an unusual
time and I think the movie will bode well.
James Purefoy: You already said that
it’s a challenging role to play V because he’s wearing a mask all
the time, he is also in very good physical shape and he talks in poems
and riddles all the time; how did you actually get into the vibe,
into the character V, what did you do in preparation, is there anything
you can do?
PUREFOY: Yes, the script is dialogue
heavy really, what Joel said about it being a character based piece
is absolutely true, it’s not really very effects driven in that way.
He speaks a great deal, so it’s really about color of voice and the
way you use the mask, and looking at Noh theatre and Kabuki theatre,
and talking to mask specialists - people who know the subconscious
way a mask works. There are various devices you can use to make the
feelings of this man very clear to an audience. I spend a lot of time
looking at myself, V, in the mirror and using different lights and
different shades of light, and the way that the mask works in those
different shades of light is one of the things that’s been interesting
me. I fell asleep the other night with it on, which is kind of spooky
because somebody called me up at about 11 o’clock and I was like…
what the hell is this on my face? I was just working with it and thinking
about it and I think the more I love the mask the more I’ll understand
James McTeigue: You’re making the movie
in eight months; does that put any additional pressure on you?
McTEIGUE: Yes, it does put additional
pressure on, but it’s a great thing to start a movie in a year and
release it within the year. There are such long gestation periods
on films, and whether it’s through the process or the distribution
process it’s fantastic to be able to release it within the year. The
release is also for the one hundredth year anniversary of Guy Fawkes,
so it seems very prescient and timely to do it, so it is really something
to strive for.
the remainder of the transcript, please visit, www.vforvendetta.com