ComingSoon.net correspondent Brian Carroll got the chance to talk to Blade: Trinity writer/director/producer David Goyer on Monday at the Jim Henson Studios. Goyer talked about the film itself in-depth, the upcoming Batman movie he wrote and much, much more. The interview covers so much, in fact, we’ve split it up into three parts! First, here are a few notes on the footage from the film that was shown to the press:
-David said they had a first director’s cut 3 to 4 weeks earlier than expected and are a month ahead in post. The movie has 400 to 450 effects shots (including triple the vampire deaths in the previous Blade movies).
-We saw talk show host Bentley Tittle (played by Eric Begosian) interviewing Police Chief Reed (who doesnt believe in vampires and is pursuing Blade believing he is a dangerous killer) and psychologist Dr. Vance, played by John Michael Higgins, who has done a psychological profile of Blade.
-We first see Blade coming out of an exploding building, brandishing two guns and taking on some motorcycle-riding vampires.
-We also saw a scene set on a dark subway platform, where four vampires attack a young woman, who turns out to be more than she seems. This is our first glimpse of vampire hunter Abigail, played by Jessica Biel. Abigail used a weapon that projects a lazer-like UV arc that she uses on vampires like a cheese slicer. Abigail is a member of the new vampire fighting group, the Nightstalkers, who are trained by Blade’s friend Whistler (as is Hannibal King, played by Ryan Reynolds).
-David says at times Blade: Trinity will poke fun at the horror genre and this is seen in scenes with Dominic Purcell entering a store filled with Dracula souvenirs. Since he’s the original Dracula, he takes exception to the marketing and takes his displeasure out on the two store employees.
-James Remar (who works out at Goyers gym and got the part of an F.B.I. agent when he asked David if there was anything he could do in the movie) appears in a scene where federal agents storm Blade’s headquarters, capturing Blade in the process.
-Other scenes included Ryan Reynolds as Hannibal King being menaced by a mix of Vampire and Pomeranian (with a mouth like the reaper in Blade II) and Ryan being questioned by vampire Parker Posey.
Then it was time for the Q&A with Goyer, in which he first talked about the footage show.
We threw together roughly 15 to 18 minutes of stuff and its roughly in chronological order. There’s no visual effects done at all. Most of the scenes aren’t effects heavy. The music is all temp obviously. The sound effects are all temp. The sound design is Aaron Glastock and they did “Traffic” I think and “The Limey” and ” Insomnia”. I got them through Chris Nolan. The score is going to be co-written by Terrence Blanchard who does a lot of Spike Lee’s stuff and RZA. Theyre doing it together, which is pretty cool. Theyre not swapping scenes. Theyre actually writing together. We showed the rough cut to them last weekend. There’s a lot of temp music in there, a lot of the house stuff thats been in the other films and RZA said, It sounds a little too British. He said, We need to bring it back home a little.
Next up, Goyer talked about the story of the third film.
The plot is Blade and Whistler at the beginning of the movie are doing what they do and the vampires are doing two things. They’ve been looking for this sort of progenitor of the vampire race, who’s Dracula but he’s 70,000 years old and the whole idea is that Dracula is just this tiny piece of the jigsaw puzzle that Stoker happened to hear about. So he’s got many names and Dracula is only one of them. We actually refer to him as Drake in the film. And at the beginning of the film, although you won’t see it here, the movie opens in Iraq, which used to be Sumerian, Mesopotanian. The whole idea is Drake/Dracula was also the genesis of the Sumerian god, even some of the Lovecraft stuff. Hes sort of the Patient Zero of evil. He’s the beginning of all these myths. Imaginary Forces do a lot of cool sequences. They did all the precog stuff for Minority Report, they’re helping me with the sequence in the middle of the film. It’s sort of this walk through history and the idea is all these symbols related to Drake have kind of permeated our culture and have been there. So anyway, the vampires are looking for him because he’s
a daywalker. The plot is all the vampires were daywalkers and eventually they lost that ability because they think they’re pure but they crossbred with humans and that’s kind of one of the reveals. So they’re looking for him and at the same time they’ve decided to kind of out Blade and wage this P.R. campaign. So what they’ve done is they’ve framed him. This movie is the one that’s the most set in the real world, so the F.B.I. and the local cops and stuff are after Blade too and people talk about Blade and he’s in the Weekly World News and stuff like that because nobody believes in vampires. They just think Blade is a psychopath who’s running around killing people because when he kills a vampire, it doesn’t leave any body, just ash. So that plot is sort of going around in the first act of the film. So the vampires have managed to turn everything around and shift the paradigm and Blade and Whistler are getting f**ked bad and it becomes apparent that Blade and Whistler are forced to go on the defensive so much that they need reinforcements and the reinforcements are the night stalkers which is sort of Whistler’s contingency plan. He’s been training on the side this group of vampire hunters with his daughter and its not as complicated as some people think who his daughter is, to kind of help pick up the slack. And when they are introduced in the movie, Blade is extremely resistant to & and there’s a whole generational thing because theyre younger and their methods are very different than Blade’s, so he’s very antagonistic towards them and they are antagonistic towards him, but they’re forced to team up. So Jessica Biel and Ryan Reynolds and Patton Oswalt and Natasha Lyonne and a couple of others, there are about six of them, are the Nightstalkers. And if it’s successful, we made a deal with all of them to do a Nightstalkers film as well, because Jessica and Ryan in particular ended up being amazing. Ryan, when I first met with him, I thought he was funny but he needed to be credible as an action star and they both trained for about six months, Im not joking, six days a week three hours a day lifting weights and fighting, and I know everyone always says they did their own stunts in this film, but the only stunts that both of them didn’t do was when we threw them through glass. When we threw them through glass, we didn’t want to risk cutting them. In fact, like almost every time we did throw their stunt double through glass, we ended up cutting the stunt double and they had to go get stitches. Every single ounce of fighting in the film they did. And I’ve seen some stuff on the web, like how are these guys going to be credible. When people see it, there’s not even a question it will be credible. Ryan put on 24 pounds of muscle. You’ll see. He’s unrecognizable. Jessie lost weight and basically looks like Linda Hamilton in T-2. They were both amazing, and then Dominic Purcell who plays a sort of king vampire trained for this sword fight at the end of the film and it’s all him.
Yeah. Theres a bunch more weapons and things like that. Patton Oswalt plays this sort of Q weapons designer in the movie. Thats a good way of putting it, because I figured this is the third permutation of these films and in the wake of all this, there’s been “Angel” and “Underworld” and things like that. This movie takes into account the fact that over the last decade these kinds of films and T.V. shows have sort of permeated the public consciousness. I figure Blade was one of the movies that started it, so this one I wanted to kind of look back at all of that with all that knowledge in place.
What does Natasha Lyonne do in this movie?
The idea is the vampires want to use Drake’s blood so that they can all become daywalkers, and conversely, Natasha Lyonne plays a biochemist in the film. They’re trying to come up with & the whole big rift between Blade and the Nightstalkers is & the Nightstalkers point is killing vampires piecemeal is totally ineffective. You just can’t kill them one by one. You need to do something bigger, so they’re developing a biological weapon that will only kill vampires and the way it will do it is its a virus and they’ll release it in the human world. It’s dormant in humans but it’ll destroy their food supply. It codes to sort of vampire DNA and the reason why it’s been sort of ineffective up until now is because vampire DNA is so spotty and hodgepodge because of successive mutation and then when Drake shows up on the scene, they’re like, Oh my god, weve got the guy who’s got the pure DNA strand. So the irony is the vampires need his blood and the Nightstalkers need his blood. So they’re trying to get a blood sample from Drake so they can interfuse it with the virus that theyre using. We call it the plague arrow. We didn’t show any of these scenes but Abigail’s an archer in the movie, so she loads up with that. What happens is the vampires eventually track down where Blade and the Nightstalkers are and slaughter a ton of people and destroy all the virus and everything like that, but there’s a tiny bit of it. The Nightstalkers operate like Al Quaeda. They’ve got sleeper cells and theyve got other hideouts and stuff. And so when a bunch of them get killed in that third act, a couple new ones show up, new Nightstalkers, and there’s another sort of hideout. And you realize Whistler had been training them to sort of adopt these new methods and so they sort of show up in the third act and some of these characters would show up in a Nightstalkers movie as well, and they’ve got a little bit of the virus and they’ve basically only got enough for one shot, which is that arrowhead that presumably Blade and/or Abigail are going to use at the end of the film.
Did you have any reticence about using Dracula as a character?
You know, I went back and forth, but its twofold, A. Blade comes from the Tomb Of Dracula comics and if youre going to do a third film & the second film was well, what are we going to do with a bigger threat? And then I hit upon the idea of doing Dirty Dozen where hes got to team up with the vampires, but if he’s gotta team up with the vampires, there has to be something that’s bigger than the vampires, so that’s how I came up with the idea of the reapers. But you couldn’t just do the reapers again for the third one because we’ve already done it, so it just seemed like the obvious way to go was to have Blade go up against Dracula quote/unquote since he’s the granddaddy of the vampires. But by doing that hopefully in scenes like in that goth shop and stuff like that, were very self consciously playing on what does Dracula mean and where does all that come from. I had a little bit of reticence, but I don’t know, it just seemed ultimately like the right way to go. Originally, we had this idea of doing the third film set in the future, much more of an I Am Legend scenario, and we were actually going to have it take place forty years in the future and since Blade is half vampire, he doesn’t age as fast and they’ve shifted the paradigm and humans are in concentration camps and they put these particulates in the air so that there’s only two hours of sunlight a day, and that was all really cool, but then I felt like part of the fun of Blade is that it had been set in the real world, so I changed my mind and decided to do this instead.
When you wrote the first two, you were writing for other directors. What did you write for yourself because you knew you’d be directing this time?
One of the things I did was I put scenes in this movie that were either cut out from the first two films. Sometimes they were cut out before we shot them and sometimes we actually & there’s one scene that is on the DVD of the first Blade in the deleted scenes that is this lame, lame, lame scene. It wasn’t how I envisioned it at all and I just decided, you know what, I’m going to do that in this film. When I first started writing the script, I wasn’t necessarily going to direct it. I was going to do something else for New Line and Lynn Harris, one of the producers, suggested that I do it. And then I hit upon the idea of sort of bringing King and the Nightstalkers in.
What scenes from the first film are you putting in this one?
One is I got a lot of sh*t in the first film because there’s a scene where Stephen Dorff says, Were all going to be vampires. The whole human race are going to be vampires. Well, if were all going to be vampires, who are they going to feed on? N’Bushe Wright in the first film says that to Stephen Dorff and he shows her these humans he’s kind of set up in this coma situation where they’re basically just blood farming them and they can produce. But when we filmed it, it just looked lame, and so we cut it out of the film. So I decided to do that scene but like a hundred times bigger. There were only four bodies or something like that and so we kind of did that version of the movie, but there’s literally thousands and thousands of bodies. Its just really big. So we did that and then we had like a ten minute sequence that was in the script in the beginning of Blade II that was cut out for budgetary reasons and also because we went to Prague. We never really used the Charger in any real kind of action sequences and I always loved that sequence and I literally took that nine, ten page sequence and made it the beginning of this movie. It was its own thing and so it would work in either. So after that machine shop that you saw, it leads to this whole long extended car chase scene where Blade is in the Charger, there are vampires in cars and on motorcycles with machine guns. Its just mayhem and the cars are rolling over and exploding and he’s running vampires down. He brakes and one guy thats on a motorcycle gets catapulted off his motorcycle and goes through the rear windshield of Blade’s car and lands in the front seat and then Blade kicks him in the face and opens the passenger door and shoots him in the face with a shotgun and the guy ashes and rolls out and then his ashes are run over by a tour bus and it just goes on and on and on. But that was a sequence that’s just not worth showing without all the visual effects because there’s like 80 of them in that sequence, and thats like the opening. Im a big fan of the car chases in The French Connection and Bullitt, so it was done very old school. I like it. It’s got this kind of seventies feel to it. It’s decidedly not Michael Bay.