While interviewing the cast of Priest, it became clear that part of the reason that the much of them signed on to do a post-apocalyptic vampire film was due to director Scott Stewart’s vision for the film. That vision is something that he pulled not only from reading some of the original Priest graphic novels but from his own idea of how to do a kick-ass vampire film that doesn’t involve a glittery chest or loads of twisted sex scenes.
At the recent press event for Priest at San Diego Comic-Con ’10, Stewart sat down with Shock to talk about the film and what makes it special in a land flooded by vampire films and television.
Shock: After talking with some of the actors in Priest, many of them have talked about your vision of Priest and that being the reason that they signed onto the film. Can you talk about that vision?
Scott Stewart: The script pre-dated my involvement so it was something I was familiar with Hyung Min-woo’s 16 [graphic novels]. I had the first views through them and thought his artwork was amazing. Then I read Cory Goodwin’s script and it is quite a bit different than the plot of the manhwa (Korean comic). It presented a world that is in the future of the manhwa and I was inspired by what that looked like. For me, I thought what do I have to say about vampire stories. There are so many of them these days and what can I say about them. I don’t think I have much to say about the sexy vampire or the sublimated sexual desire vampire or the teeny vampire. For me it came back to the story.
Shock: And the priests are the ones that fight the vampires.
Stewart: Right. Our story takes place after centuries of war between men and vampire and you see a bit about that in the movie. It is a generation after these characters known as priests that are Jedi Knight-type characters, they have some special abilities that were specifically recruited by the government to go out and fight the war. And they won the war and the vampires were placed in these reservations.
Shock: So, we see the after effects of this until they are called upon to fight them again, I assume.
Stewart: Now, a generation later they become like these Vietnam vets. Some have moved on from war but they have moved on from these people. They have swept them under the rug or don’t sit next to them on the bus and make them shovel coal for a living. The sacrifice for those that go off to war and the sacrifice that everyone around them makes as well and how maybe they can come back broken, that is really what the movie is about. So, in that respect it is not a vampire movie, but it is an aspect to the mythology of the story.
Shock: The vampires themselves are something we have not seen before on film according to some of cast, can you talk about that?
Stewart: The mythology of the story is that vampires don’t look like people, they are not people, they are not played by people. If they bite you, they infect you, if they don’t tear you limb from limb. If you are infected you become a vampire slave. You see these bald characters in some of the footage that was released, those are not vampires, those are the vampire slaves. In terms of the world, it takes some of the inspiration from Min-woo’s book. The notch in the hat with the eye through it that we gave to Karl [Urban]’s character, it has strong Western motifs. It was the way that Min-woo so cleverly took Western iconography and blended it into his world. We took that and put it in a science fiction context.
Shock: Lots of blending of different genres in one movie.
Stewart: Yeah, someone described it to me as familiar ingredients in a new recipe. That altogether it feels really pretty new, pretty unique. And we are really excited about it. It is about how we could tell an emotionally character story within the context of this entirely designed world. That is what Min-woo was inspired by and we showed him what we were doing. He was so excited about it that he created Priest Purgatory and shows what comes after book 16 [of his novels] and gets to our movie.
Shock: That’s a winning endorsement if you can get the creator to go back and do something based on what you are doing.
Stewart: He didn’t pull an Alan Moore on us so we were really pleased.
Source: Peter Brown