Exclusive: The Bad Lieutenant is NOT a Remake!
Source: Edward Douglas
June 5, 2008

Werner Herzog might be one of the most prolific film directors working today, having directed 56 films in a career that's spanned over 45 years. He's not resting on his laurels either now that he's past the normal age of retirement, since recently, his name was attached to two very different projects from his norm: A police thriller with the familiar name of The Bad Lieutenant and an adaptation of Daniel Mason's The Piano Tuner. When Herzog came to New York to promote his new Antarctica doc Encounters at the End of the World, asked him about his new projects.

One thing the German filmmaker wanted to stress and make clear is that his next movie The Bad Lieutenant starring Nicolas Cage is NOT a remake of the 1992 Abel Ferrara of the same name, a movie made famous for Harvey Keitel's full frontal nude scene. (Incidentally, The Piano Tuner has nothing to do with Keitel's other full frontal movie The Piano either, in case you were wondering.)

"No, it's not a remake," he told us quite adamantly. "You have to delete that from your memory, though we may not be able to delete it from public perception. It's like I keep saying, 'A James Bond film, the newest one, is not a remake of the previous one; it's a completely different story.' It only has a corrupt policeman as the central character and that's about it."

"You won't be able to make it clear, because it will perpetuate itself," he lamented when it was suggested that word might get out that this is a different movie. "Once a notion like this is out, you can never correct it. Of course, it's very fascinating to work with Nicolas Cage, he really wanted me to be the director on this film. It can't get any better."

He brushed off our suggestion that he's mainly famous for being a director who works outdoors or in the wild, which would make his next film more interesting, since it would set in the city. "I haven't made everything out in nature. Some of the films that are better-known, but I realized recently in Torino, Italy, they had a retrospective of my films, and it was 55 or 56, and I thought, 'Dammit, I made a lot.' Only a small but rather significant part is out in wild nature, like in the jungle or Antarctica or in Alaska, but it doesn't mean I have a total fixation of wild landscapes out there."

When suggested that he might be able use the techniques he learned in those famous films to explore the concrete jungle in a similar fashion, he also disagreed. "You can't do it in this project because there's a very clear story that is written and there's a certain urgency in the drives of narrating the story, so you have no real time to explore certain city spaces or cityscapes."

The Bad Lieutenant is a top priority for Herzog right now, since the project came together very fast with a limited time in which he can get the film done. "'The Bad Lieutenant' has to be done during a window of opportunity for Nicolas Cage which is coming very, very soon, so I have to scramble to get pre-production done. In this case, financing was unclear and I thought it probably was not going to happen, and then all of a sudden, two weeks ago, I'm called, 'Come immediately, we have to start immediately, because money is there, Nicolas Cage wants to have me as director.' It was a fine moment, because I had a good negotiating position with the production company. They have been good in doing it from out of nowhere from one day to the next. Of course, we'll have bumps in the road as always happens in movies. Don't expect that I'll be in the city and things will be easy. There will be some problems en route, and for all movies that have ever been made." (It's great to see that Herzog's sardonic wit and cynicism is still alive and well.)

Waiting patiently on deck is Herzog's own script for The Piano Tuner which he plans on tackling after finishing the police thriller.

At one point, there was talk about a narrative drama based on the life of Timothy Treadwell, the bear-loving explorer most famously captured in Herzog's 2005 documentary Grizzly Man, but Herzog was skeptical of that movie ever being made. "I don't think that's ever going to happen," he said when asked about his involvement. "I believe that Leonardo DiCaprio bought the rights and at that time, he thought that Treadwell was a true Prince Valiant who boldly defended the bears, but when DiCaprio saw my film, that was the end of his dream of doing the Prince Valiant version. You can't outdo Timothy Treadwell as an actor."

Look for our full interview with Herr Herzog sometime early next week. Encounters at the End of the World opens at New York's Film Forum on Wednesday, June 11.

| 19 comments | Add a comment


Posted by: plainview20 on June 5, 2008 at 01:35:27

read much?

Posted by: paullie on June 5, 2008 at 01:36:42

just to your mom when i put her to bed.

Posted by: Edward Lee on June 5, 2008 at 02:09:49

Awesome! It's going to be animated! That's terrific!

Posted by: Benj on June 5, 2008 at 02:09:56

I'm so glad Herzog exists. He completes me in ways females never could.

Posted by: dirty sanchez on June 5, 2008 at 02:55:22

(Incidentally, The Piano Tuner has nothing to do with Keitel's other full frontal movie The Piano either, in case you were wondering.)

That's not called The Piano. That's called Fingers. The recent French film called The Beat That My Heart Skipped is a remake of Fingers, sans the nudity.

Posted by: dirty sanchez on June 5, 2008 at 03:06:38

in addition, herzog is not only a fantastic filmmaker and documentarian, but i wish he was my dad. his demeanor is so warm and fatherly. sure, as you pointed out, he may be full of sardonic wit and cynicism, but when he speaks, you kind of know everything is gonna be okay.

and one more thought. granted christian bale is the next best actor in the world, and he can make a burning turd smell good, we just have to hope that herzog is our last hope of pulling an amazing performance out of cage. rescue dawn is easily one of the best films of last year, so i'm not very worried about herzog making a good movie no matter where it's set. i'm honestly a little more concerned with cage.

Posted by: dirty sanchez on June 5, 2008 at 03:17:30

(Incidentally, The Piano Tuner has nothing to do with Keitel's other full frontal movie The Piano either, in case you were wondering.)

I take that back. I guess Harvey likes showing his **** to pianos.

Posted by: Andrew on June 5, 2008 at 03:49:04

I get annoyed with this semantics game where people involved in remakes always insist that they're not doing a remake. Just because you say it isn't doesn't make it so.

It's a film about a corrupt cop that has the same title and same producer; therefore, it is a remake. Just because some of the story is different doesn't change that simple fact. When you do a version of Hamlet that takes place in modern times, you're still doing Hamlet. I can't believe you guys are buying this bull****.

Posted by: Edward Lee on June 5, 2008 at 09:59:22

^^ LOL. Relax. It's only a movie, remake or not.

Posted by: Stewie666 on June 5, 2008 at 10:10:09

What a relief! I was about to go on a murder rampage if they remade the original Lieutenant. To the guy with the mom comment....what a pansy! Who reads to a woman when you put her to bed? You better be tapping that ***** , dawg!

Posted by: Andrew on June 5, 2008 at 10:27:03

This is a different Andrew. A smart Andrew.

This is not a remake of the film. Corrupt police is the subject and the title is misleading. You could have called 'The Departed' Bad Lieutenant but that wouldn't have made it a remake.

That said, Cage sucks. He is a terrible actor and not even the Herzog the almighty will be able to save him.

Posted by: D-Nice on June 5, 2008 at 11:12:08

Well, as a Ferrara loyalist, any remake of his films is a slap at a cult filmmaking legend, I would hate to see the remake of King of New York. On another note, I hear Abel Ferrara is directing a TV pilot based on the US drug war, I don't know for who, but from someone in the inside, the script is great from what I hear, and some names are attached. Can't wait to see his vision on this one. Abel, drugs, crime, can't wait.

Posted by: John Fenley on June 5, 2008 at 12:46:14

Comments are awesome! LET ME ADD TO THE NOISE! I have nothing to say!

Posted by: Benj on June 5, 2008 at 13:54:31

Different Andrew -

The Departed WAS a remake. Haha.

Posted by: paullie on June 5, 2008 at 14:39:28

i was on top of plainveiew20's mom. what did i miss?

Posted by: dude on June 5, 2008 at 15:09:03

No questions about the collaboration with David Lynch?

Posted by: D-Nice on June 5, 2008 at 15:22:58

Other outlets are saying it's a remake of Abel's Bad Lieutenant, I like Lynch, but Cage, taking Keitel's place, that's a stretch! Cage has become a bit of a film killer, Next, Ghost Rider, Matchstick Men, and he has done nothing good in quite some time. As for Herzog, he can keep all his Greenpeace films to himself, I saw the film with Christain Bale, which by the way went straight to DVD, and it was awful. I hope whatever the outcome of this "Bad Lieuteanant" is fairly decent.

Posted by: dude on June 5, 2008 at 16:43:47 are wayyyyy off, D-Nice.

Rescue Dawn did not go straight to DVD. I saw it in the theater, as did many many others. It was one of last years' best films, and Herzog is a great filmmaker. His movies challenge more than they entertain.

The project with David Lynch is not The Bad Lieutenant. It's a different film about a guy who kills people with a sword.

Posted by: joe asylo on June 5, 2008 at 16:52:22

this director has history, he's career is very overwhelming, but up for hes next pic.

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