How did you end up directing Blade: Trinity?
Guillermo, we loved working together and Guillermo was interested in doing it but it became clear that he was working on Hellboy and there was just like no way it was going to happen. The reports of Oliver (Hershspiegel) possibly doing it were way exaggerated. His agent said, How about Oliver? Will you meet him? And I had coffee with him and I hadn’t even written the script yet and I said, When the script’s done, well see, and that was it. It wasn’t anything with New Line or the other producers. That was just it. I had coffee with him and I liked his movie, The Experiment, but that was the extent of it. And we hadn’t even gotten to who was going to direct it. I was still writing the script and that’s when Lynn Harris said, Why don’t you do it? And I said, O.K., why not?
Did it take much convincing on her part?
It was her idea. I had wanted to do a bigger movie. I had done this little independent movie, and I’d wanted to do a bigger movie if for no other reason that there are a lot of other films I wanted to make and that’s why frankly Guillermo did Blade II was so he could make Hellboy. He knew he had to A: sort of answer for being in movie jail for Mimic and he knew he had to do a bigger movie and once you do a bigger movie, you’ve been sort of vetted and so it was sort of the shortest distance between two points, but also it’s a franchise that I helped create, so it wasn’t like I was & it made sense.
Would you have been more nervous if you hadn’t made Zig Zag first?
I dont know. Zig Zag was like 2.6 and this was 65, so it was definitely a much bigger movie.
Why are you such a big comic book fan?
When I was younger, my mom was a single mom and she was working on her P.H.D. at university of Michigan, so she was working and going to night school, and she didn’t have enough money for child care often, so she would park my brother and I in the local comic book store at night called the Eye Of Agamotto and she would buy us McDonald’s and we would sit there for two or three hours while she was in school, this was three nights a week, and read comic books in the comic book store and that’s how we got into it, from the time I was six or seven.
But some kids grow out of it.
My mom never threw away my comic book collection, which I recently sold to the drummer from System Of A Down.
Why did you sell it?
At this point, I’d rather have them in book form. I’m not really a collector. I loved them. I had a lot. I had 8,000. I don’t know. He really wanted them.
There’s an appeal for those kind of mythic stories for you as a storyteller?
I grew up with them. I wrote letters to Captain America and Swamp Thing, letters that were published and stuff like that. I think comic books have become a new genre, comic book films in a way that a western is a genre and the way that musicals are a genre and I believe they are sort of our version of Greek myths. They’re these sort of simplified morality plays, and they’re not all adolescent male power fantasies as evidenced by Ghost World and things like that. I don’t know, I don’t just want to do comic book stuff. Now it’s hard because I get offered every single one, but Batman, it doesn’t get any bigger than that.
Will there be a point where comic book movies will go away?
I dont think so. I mean, I think they will ebb and flow like any other genre. I think that maybe 2006, 2007, round about the time the second or third Batman film comes out or the first Superman film. I think we’ve got a good five more years of a lot of comic book movies coming out and being massive hits, then I think they’ll ebb for a while and then I think they’ll come back. I think it will be a genre that will stay.
How do you deal with hardcore comic book fans that don’t like changes that filmmakers make?
Some of those youre like, F**k off. Some of its so ridiculous. With a character like Blade, it’s not that big a deal because Blade doesn’t have such a hardcore cannon. I don’t think most comic book people were horrified that we made certain changes to Blade. It depends if you’re dealing with one of the first tier characters. Blade I would even call like a third tier character. Batman, you have to be much more careful about, but Batman, you know, Chris and I went to DC and spent two days with Paul Levitz and the editorial staff of Batman and told them what we were proposing and said is there anything were doing that you think & I mean, we did stuff in Batman that has never been told before but we didn’t contradict anything.
How bulky is the costume going to be?
I cant say. People will like it. No nipples, no codpieces.
What was your thinking behind the design for Drake?
Originally I was going to go super-crazy and Stephen Norrington in the wake of League was like, I’m done with Hollywood. I’m friends with both Stephen and Guillermo and they were giving me lots of advice as I was gearing up for this film. They had both read the script and I was telling Stephen about some of my ideas for Drake and he said, If you want, I’ll do some conceptual art for you. So he worked for a month on the film as a conceptual artist. You’ll see his credit in the movie, which is really funny. And my original conceit for Drake was so extreme that it might have been too cartoonish. Originally he had sort of the same skeletal structure as a human, but it was as if every bone was folded in upon itself three times. So like every single bone in his body accordioned out and he became like three times as big but wider and had wings and stuff like that, but it looked & we did some initial tests and Stephen did a lot of work on that, but it looked so weird and bizarre that & it was a cool idea, but once we started unfolding the bones, it just was too weird. So Guillermo said, Why don’t you use these guys, Spectral Motion? And some of those people worked on Blade II. We went with a more traditional design for a creature that was more humanoid, but Spectral Motion are amazing. If they can sort of keep their company together and sort of ride the ebbs in between big shows & they’re really great. What I liked about Spectral Motion is they combine prosthetic suits with radio controlled elements. So the guy that plays the beast as we call him in the film is in a prosthetic suit, but there are things moving on him that were remotely radio controlled. He’s got these sort of shoulder spikes that rotate and sort of lip up and flare when he gets angry and then he’s got these what I call chest vents. He’s got like another way that he can breath when he gets angry and these things kind of open and pulsate and bubble. And it’s kind of interesting because all that’s going on and its clearly a real actor in a suit and then his head does stuff like that too.
Brian Steel, who’s like the guy. Brians awesome.
Are you worried about Van Helsing coming out so close to your film? They have Dracula too.
No. I don’t know. They’ve got Dracula but they’ve got the Frankenstein monster and they’ve got were creatures. I think there’s room enough for both of them. Ours is R-rated and much more extreme. I’m not too worried about it.
There’s been talk about drama on the Blade set, that Wesley can be hard to work with.
Whether its as a writer or producer or director, I’ve done four movies with Wesley. He was in Zig Zag as well. He did a small part. Wesley’s an amazing actor. Theres drama on every movie. It’s true when you’re working that hard and you’re working so many hours and you’re up there for so long, everybody breaks down and everybody & at the end of the day, it was just your average drama. At any given point in the film, Jessie broke down or Ryan broke down or I did. It’s so hard that it just happens, and then when its over, everybody’s like it’s over.
Did Wesley choreography any of the action himself?
He would have ideas but I came in with a pretty firm & I came in with a bunch of storyboards, half of which I threw out the window. My D.P.’s very funny. Hes like, Oh, f**k the storyboards. Free yourself from the storyboards! I don’t know why my D.P., who shot Blade II, he hates storyboards. He likes to feel the scene and then go for it. But I also had created a style book, which had photographs and things like that that were pulled from art and magazines that were sort of the style vibe of the film and I also did one that was a palette book and I created those when I first met with Wesley and I was interviewing the production designers, everybody, I said, This is the basic, not what I’m telling you to do but this is the palette that I want. This is the kind of style that I want to spring from architecturally and whatnot. And I had also edited together sort of my own DVD of the kind of fighting I wanted and I wanted to do a lot more sort of old school Jackie Chan stuff, like 15, 18 years ago. And I’m not crazy about the movie, but I really like the fighting in The Transporter. And I really like the last fight in Blade II, the sort of grittier, eye-gouging, ugly, messy, more street, less presentational, less formal. So I showed that to Wesley and said, I want to go in this direction,and he was down with that. So the fighting in this movie sort of goes more & its a little more visceral for my money.
Did New Line have any worries that the movie will be a little more gruesome than the last one?
Yeah, it’s a little more gruesome. They were amazing. I told them my idea for the script. I turned in a script and they greenlighted it with no notes. Now we had done two movies before and it was the same team, so it was Lynn, Peter, Wesley and myself and there was the D.P. from the second film as well. So I think they kind of felt like we knew what we were doing. And DeLuca wasn’t there anymore. I think if DeLuca had been there, he might have been more involved, because DeLuca had been involved in Blade I and Blade II and Toby had been making the transition into New Line at the time, so they were great and they liked the footage. We didn’t really go over budget and we were basically on schedule, so they let us do what we wanted.
What does the Trinity in the title refer to?
We went back and forth about whether or not to call it Blade III or not, and at first, I was more in line with Blade III and they came up with the idea of Trinity and I was worried about maybe the illusions to The Matrix, but I think if The Matrix sequels had been really great, I’d be more worried, but I think everybody was just so bummed with what happened, so Trinity because it’s the third film, but also because its sort of the axis point between Blade and Ryan and Abigail. There ends up being three of them. It just seemed kind of cool. I kind of liked the logo treatment they did for it, so at the end of the day I said, What the hell.
Did you let Patton Oswalt improvise any dialogue?
One thing I did was before we started & I’m also friends with Dana Gould whos’ a writer for The Simpsons and another guy named Eddie Goridesky who wrote for Dharma And Greg and theyre all giant comic book fans and horror fans. And so we had a table reading with those guys and about six of the writers from The Simpsons, which I should have taped because that reading in itself was so f**king funny, it would have been great on the DVD. They were acting out the script, but Patton would play Blade but do it with an Irish accent. And to be honest, most of what we talked about at that table reading didn’t make it in the movie.
Blade: Trinity opens nationwide on August 13!