There are few Hollywood directors whose output contains the diversity and eclecticism of George Miller. Though his film career had its breakout hit with 1979’s Mad Max, Miller’s subsequent offerings include the 1993 drama Lorenzo’s Oil, the dreamlike sequel Babe: Pig in the City and, more recently, the animated penguin musical Happy Feet. Having just put the finishing touches on that film’s sequel, Happy Feet Two, Miller spoke this morning at a press junket in Los Angeles, offering an update on the proposed back-to-back sequels, Mad Max: Fury Road and Mad Max: Furiosa, reiterating the reasons for their delay. He also spoke a bit about his almost-filmed take on a motion-capture Justice League feature and the possibility of a third entry in the Happy Feet franchise.
“Theoretically, it’s next year,” Miller said of Fury Road, which plans to place Tom Hardy in the role originated by Mel Gibson. “We have 150 big vehicles built and so on.”
Readers caught a glimpse of some of those vehicles last year when production seemed imminent. Unfortunately, fate had other plans.
“[W]e were all geared up for that,” Miller recalled. “We were all set to shoot in the Australian desert and then unprecedented rain came and what was the wasteland — completely flat, red earth — is now a flower garden. The big massive salt flats in the center of Australia where they do record speed trials and stuff is now full of pelicans and fish… We sort of lost the wasteland.”
Though the hope is to move forward in 2012, Miller was quick to point out that it’s impossible to know when a movie is going to happen until the camera is actually rolling.
“You know, John Lennon said, ‘Life is what happens when you’re making other plans'”, Miller smiled. “Films keep on coming out of my head and I never know what film I’m going to make next. Common and I were going to work on a ‘Justice League’ movie together. He was cast as Green Lantern and it was almost greenlit when it fell away. I fell in love with the guy and I called him up and said, ‘You can’t play the Green Lantern, but how about playing a penguin?'”
The Justice League film was fully cast when it failed to move forward and would have starred, in addition to Common, D.J. Cotrona as Superman, Adam Brody as the Flash, Armie Hammer as Batman and Megan Gale as Wonder Woman.
“That was a whole bunch of complex events,” Miller added. “It was the middle of a writers strike. There was Australian rebate legislation that was required to get the film going. It was just a whole complex series of events. It was no one particular’s fault that it didn’t happen.”
For the time being, however, Miller isn’t missing any of these other projects and is quite proud of his brand-new sequel release.
“People do think, ‘what happened?’ to me,” he laughs, “but I do love ‘Happy Feet’… I really love making these movies. I love the process of making these movies. They’re incredibly hard to make because of the hours you put in. They’re incredibly complex.”
That being said, fans shouldn’t hold their breath for a Happy Feet Three. Though Miller knew by the end of the first film that he was ready for a sequel, he says that a third adventure isn’t necessarily on the horizon.
“It’s surprising,” he said, “but if you put a gun to my head and said, ‘You have to come up with a story for ‘Happy Feet Three,” I’d say, ‘Shoot me.’ I would have no idea. I really would have no idea. The stories creep up on you… You just have to allow the stories to come and then they get in like little earworms in your head and then they won’t go away. If that happens and we’ve got the energy, we’ll do a third one. If that doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. But that’s the only way you can do it. It has to be authentic. I really wanted to make this film better than the first one. Otherwise, at my age, what’s the point?”
Happy Feet Two hits theaters in 3D, 2D and IMAX 3D on November 18th. Check back soon for more updates from the cast and crew.