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Exclusive Interview: Zack Snyder Is Kickin' Ass With 300 and Watchmen! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Robert Sanchez   
Tuesday, 13 February 2007

You know, I love video interviews, they are great. First, you don't have to transcribe, which is awesome and second, your audience gets to see the talent a bit differently than just reading the interview. So, this time around we did both a video interview and a print interview with Mr. Zack Snyder.

ImageFirst off, Snyder is great. Talk about working hard and turning out an excellent piece of work on 300. It's phenomenal. So we did our 5 minute video interview with the man, you can check that out here. Then we sat down with him for a full 20 minute print interview. Talk about great information and he's fuckin' hilarious!

We talked about everything from 300, to the Watchmen project, Jude Law and his Rorschach tattoo, being approached for X-Men 3, being pitched the Green Lantern and how he sees his future.

Without further ado, here's Zack Snyder in his own fuckin' words... 

ZS: How are you doing?

IESB: Congratulations, seriously, what a great film. Going back, I loved Dawn of the Dead, but there was some people that were like, "Zombies aren't supposed to run," and all this other horse shit.

ZS: Yeah, I know, there was a lot of that.

IESB: This movie really shows that you are not a one trick pony. This is balls to the wall, geek gasm, raw fanboy stuff. How did you approach 300 ‘cause I know that you are a fan of the graphic novel, but when you were actually on set were you a giddy little boy saying, “oh shit, is this what we are doing?”

ZS: Look, you know, there's no better job, I don’t think, I don't know what other people do for a living (laughter) but I have been a director, I’ve never had another job but I still think that it’s the fuckin' best thing there is because, look, we get to run around and say, "you fight him, alright! Fuckin' fight him back! Film that! That’s awesome!" That’s part of the job right, in some ways, and for me, you know, having to do a Frank Miller graphic novel, I'm like okay, film that! Are you stupid? That’s fuckin' awesome! I’m gonna film a Frank Miller graphic novel and make a movie out of it! So it doesn’t get any better than that, I don’t think. When we were doing 300, I just wanted to make sure that I did it right. That I lived up to it and made sure we didn’t fuck it up.

IESB: And you didn't [fuck it up]. What I liked about it is sometimes studios hold pictures back ‘cause they’re not sure how fans will react. But, this movie has been screening and people are loving it. You’re not hiding it.

ZS: There is no hiding this movie. I said that from the beginning. I said, “listen, I love the movie, I got nothing to hide.” It's funny because marketing has been really cool about it, they said, “You know what? The response has been so good about the movie let’s just fuckin', let’s just let everybody see it!” So that’s good. Did you see it on IMAX or normal?

IESB: I have not seen in it in IMAX yet but I am dying to see in IMAX.

ZS: You have to see it on IMAX! No one should ever take drugs, no one, I don’t ever want to ever hear that someone has taken drugs, but if someone gave you drugs by accident, you should get in a cab  and go immediately to go see 300 in IMAX. (Laughter)

IESB: That's insane (laughter), I'm excited because of the genre, sometimes if feels like studios don’t take certain genre seriously, but Warner Bros. is, Batman Begins, Superman Returns

ZS: The Matrix

IESB: The Matrix…but this movie is epic, you look at it and it looks so huge and grandiose, but do you still believe that even though the studios may be accepting the movies as incredible art, you still have the Academy and Golden Globes people, they’re still not getting it, giving it the respect it deserves?

ZS: You mean the comic book genre?

IESB: Yeah the comic book genre.

ZS: Yeah, it's hard, hard. I don’t know maybe ‘till Watchmen that they’ll take it seriously (laughter). I do also think the thing about 300 and the thing that I always wanted to stress about 300, that's it also is fun at the movies for adults. Fun at the movies for adults is weird thing because for some reason that is not allowed, you know. We have to suffer through…by the way, Children of Men, one of my favorite movies of the year, Pan's Labyrinth, couldn't be fuckin' cooler, but you don’t come out goin’ like, "Fuck yeah, that was awesome…I want to fuckin’ break something." You know, you just don’t.

IESB: The response that I am hearing is, "I gotta go do sit ups!" (laughter) 

ZS: That's good too, that's my contribution to… (laughter)

IESB: Tubby bastards like me.

ZS: But, I wanted to make a movie that has big themes, it's an epic, it's all that but it also, in the end, it wants you to go, "Yeah! I’m satisfied by my experience at the movies!"

IESB: Did this film really open up the door for Watchmen? Just like Sandman, everybody has wanted to do Watchmen forever and it seems like they’ve never been able to put it together in a feature film.

ZS: Yeah, you know what, thank god for me, that’s one thing, that they haven’t been able to put it together yet because I feel like we’re at a good place with it. I think 100% Watchmen is a product of me doing 300 for the studio. They own Watchmen over at Warner Bros. and so when I came back from 300 they said, “Hey, we have this other graphic novel lying around, this thing called, uh, Watchmen? Do you know about that? (laughter) And I said, “Listen, here is the deal…” I knew that at that time when I first came back I said, you know what, I don’t want to make that, do I look stupid? Do I look like I would do that to myself? That’s crazy talk. Don’t ever mention or bring that up again. And then I thought about it and I thought you know what? It’s probably the coolest thing on the planet, to me, really it’s the coolest thing on the planet. And I thought, if I don’t do it someone else will, that’s one thing, you know, and that’s scary. And my other thing was, what else am I going to do that is better? And really the answer was nothing. I really honestly believe that, I have looked around, there’ve been a ton of scripts that have come to Debbie and I and Wes. We’ve looked at our little company and we’ve looked at this that and the other thing and I always go, you know what? Jessica, who is the woman who is my executive over at Warner Bros., she was in the office so I was showing her some of my drawings and some of my ideas for Watchmen and I said, “300 is cool, I think it’s awesome, Dawn of the Dead I think that is cool too, but fuckin’ Watchmen is the shit! It is so cool! I am yoked and jazzed everyday that I get to work on it. I don’t mean to rant...but it’s…

IESB: It’s incredible because fans, you know how the fanboy community is…

ZS: Oh yeah…

IESB: If you would’ve pulled a…and I think that Joel Schumacher is a good director, but if you would’ve pulled a Batman Forever, bat nipples or something horrendous like that they wouldn’t allow you to direct it and…

ZS: I wouldn’t allow… They’d be right! (laughter)

IESB: But the community is excited, they’re pumped. They are happy to see that you are directing this. Some directors will dabble a little bit in this genre but then they go back and do this little indie or artsie films but then you have certain directors that get into the genre and they stick with it, Sam Raimi is an example, he just loves the genre, is that something that you are planning in doing? You like this so you are going to this because you enjoy it?

ZS: You know, I guess so. It’s what I want to see so it’s what I want to do. So, I guess in that way, yeah. I mean I don’t think about it as a certain genre per se but I think about it as it’s a cool project, you know. There is a pile of them at the house and I just go, you know what, no that’s all crap, I should just do fuckin’ Watchmen, it’s much better. So, have people offered me other genre, graphic novels, comic book and things of that nature? Sure. But are any of them as cool? No. Will I continue to do genre after Watchmen? Probably, just because it’s what I like, you know. The thing that I am writing with my buddy right now is basically in the same world.

IESB: 300 has existed, people respect it in the community. Watchmen, people consider it one of the greatest graphic novels ever, is there a “man in tights” traditional, you know a Batman, Superman, Spider-man type of character that you would really like to tackle?

ZS: I don’t think so, not right now, maybe after but not yet. Someone came in and pitched me Green Lantern and I have been pitched a couple other things. But when you are deep in Watchmen it’s hard to…you know what I am saying?

IESB: Think about anything else.

ZS: It’s really is hard to think about anything else, especially with, we were just talking about, just a second ago, we were talking about Manhattan as just how, you see Dr. Manhattan 100 feet tall walking through the jungles of Vietnam burning the Viet-Con with a couple Hueys off his shoulders, you know. It’s hard to, because it’s political and it’s beautiful and it’s all the things that Fantastic Four could never do, they would never send the Fantastic Four to Iraq, you know, that’s crazy talk. But in the Watchmen world that’s real.

IESB: Do you know how you are setting it up? Is the script completed, it’s done?

ZS: I have a draft of the script that I like a lot, not to say that we won’t work on it more. You are always trying to make it better, the basic concept is there. We are trying to get more money from marketing, to shoot…we wrote a Black Freighter script that basically we would shoot at the same time and maybe with DVD, because basically the script is designed to take the Black Freighter, you can stick the Black Freighter story into the movie, all the bumpers are there, maybe a special release in the theaters. It would probably make the movie 3 hours long. The movie right now is about 2 ½ hours long so…

IESB: You think that it will be a rated R for sure?

ZS: I don’t know how to make it PG-13, you know, I really don’t. I think it would be cool if it was PG-13 just because of how it will change, like when I was 15 I wanted to see that movie but I’m thinking that if it is Rated R, a fifteen year old will get in there anyway. They’ll find it. (Laughter) You know what I am saying? I mean really, I think I saw Excalibur when I was fifteen, you know the original John Boorman’s Excalibur, I think I was younger and they had some rough stuff in that movie.

IESB: Same thing with 300, there’s going to be a ton of kids getting into that.

ZS: Absolutely, yeah absolutely (laughter) How sexy was that one, the original Excalibur, have you seen that film?

IESB: Not in years.

ZS: There’s a good sex scene in that one, with the Knight and he’s in his armor still and, it’s good…

IESB: You know what’s good about the love making scene in your film, they were beautifully shot, it wasn’t a throw away T and A shot or anything, it was great. Going back to Watchmen, do you know where you are shooting? Are you going to do a virtual studio type thing?

ZS: I don’t know where I am shooting, I’m not gonna do a virtual studio, I’m gonna do a mix. You know, Mars and Antarctica will probably be done blue screen but then we’d probably try and build a big New York City backdrop somewhere and recreate our “Watchmen version” of New York City. I’ve generated tons of art and I’m starting to, I’ve done a couple frames of Rorschach and I’ve started to do some tests of Dr. Manhattan and that is fun, it’s fun to try and figure that out.

IESB: Casting, how soon?

ZS: Soon, I think, I’ve been meeting with a lot of people, a lot of cool, cool people.

IESB: Are you going A-list?

ZS: My feeling about it is, with Watchmen you can get actors, I believe, that would never make a comic book movie. Because Watchmen is cool, you know what I’m saying? (laughter) You’d never get Brad Pitt in tights in a normal movie, and I’m not saying he’s any of the guys, I’m actually not talking to him, but he’s the kind of guy you could get because those Ocean’s guys think they are pretty cool. But, they’d be embarrassed to be in Fantastic Four, as they should. (laughter) I don’t mean to dig on Fantastic Four, it’s just so…so, bubble gum, I can’t take it.

IESB: (laughter) So the past few comic book adaptations which is the one you really dug?

ZS: I guess Batman Begins is one of my favorites, of recent time, you know, I just, none of them really, has there been an R-rated graphic novel, like comic book?

IESB: V For Vendetta, I guess…

ZS: V, I guess, is the only one but, I don’t know if it counts 100%, it’s not superheroes. It would be cool, an R-rated superhero movie, that’s just cool, I don’t care what it is. Wolverine would be cool if it was rated R.

IESB: If Fox allows it.

ZS: There’s no way, no fuckin’ way that movie is going to be rated-R. I read the script, it’s cool but there’s no way. They asked me about it but I just said, I don’t know. That would be a thing that, if I didn’t have Watchmen, I would be interested in Wolverine.

IESB: Lauren Schuler Donner, we talked to her, and she said they were looking for a lot of different people to direct and Hugh Jackman said they were looking at some great people to direct this thing. Was it recent talk, them wanting you to do it?

ZS: It was right before I went to go do 300, I had a brief dance with X-Men 3.

IESB: Really? No one heard that did they?

ZS: No, that was kept on the down low. I had a dinner with Donner and Hugh, they were psyched about it and they thought it was a really great meeting. And I had a meeting at Fox, where I said, it was funny because I didn’t know the plot at all, and I said, “the awesome thing about X-Men is that they’re the only superheroes who don’t want to be superheroes, that’s cool.” And I said I like that. And they said, “oh my god you know our movie is about that they have this antidote.” And I said, “oh that’s cool, you know, that’s neat.” But I just said, “Look, the deal is, I am doing this thing called 300 and I really don’t want to do anything else.” And they said, “Really? It’s X-Men, it’s awesome.” And I said, “I know it’s awesome but, 300 is kick ass and I can’t even describe to you how hard core it is.”

IESB: It’s Frank Miller man…

ZS: Yeah! You know, the difference is, it’s one thing to do a character movie because they, I believe Hollywood is happy to take a character and make a movie out of it. What they don’t like is graphic novels, it presupposes that the graphic novelist knows how to make a movie better than they do and they don’t like that. They’d rather take a character and say, I’ll show you how to make a movie…blah blah blah, that’s what’s cool about Chris [Nolan] with Batman Begins where he tried to study the mythology of what makes Batman.

IESB: So shooting in Australia, Vancouver, Toronto, here?

ZS: Yeah, someplace like that, no here, they can’t afford that. I’d love to shoot it here there’s just no way.

IESB: So are we talking Superman Returns budget?

ZS: No, no, no. If the movie ends up being R-rated, which it probably will be, you can’t. They won’t spend the money. You gotta…

IESB: Probably trim it down to $100?

ZS: Yeah, it will be below $100 for sure, but the cast will just have to work for cheap, but that’s just…

IESB: But a movie like Watchmen, I think they will…So you have a cool little Watchmen tattoo coming up soon? (laughter)

ZS: I don’t have one no…Jude Law has one you know. Jude Law has the Rorschach tattoo.

IESB: Hmm...any possibility of that angle?

ZS: I don’t know, we’ll see, not as Rorschach, but he could be in the movie.

IESB: That would be awesome.

ZS: We’ll see. There are two guys that have, that are, you’d be surprised, I’ve been meeting with people and you like, really, you like Watchmen? That’s awesome!

IESB: Ok, so I was talking to one of the producers and he said they are moving forward with Ronin and they have a director attached already, the guy that did Stomp The Yard.

ZS: Oh really? Crazy.

IESB: I know, Stomp Frank Miller’s comic book? Is there another Frank Miller property?

ZS: I don’t think there are any left…Elektra Lives Again is pretty cool, (laughter) but that book is…it was a Lynn Varley and Frank Miller book called Elektra Lives Again and basically Elektra rises from the dead and meets up with Daredevil and…

IESB: Well after what we saw a few years ago, she would have to rise from the dead (laughter)

ZS: It’s pretty cool, but it’s pretty dark…

IESB: Last question, your career 10 years from now, you think you will step back and be producing films, like Sam Raimi with Ghost House Pictures, he’s just producing tons of genre stuff. Do you see yourself doing something like that?

ZS: Yeah, I think that’s a cool way to do. Find some cool material and find some young guys and see if you can whack something up. That’s cool.

IESB: That’s awesome, thank you buddy!

300 opens nationwide on March 9, 2007. Go see it, it's fuckin' awesome!!

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