In 2005 I gave my first interview as a professional film journalist, and nothing has quite matched that experience. Sure, I’ve met and interviewed filmmakers and celebrities that I admire greatly, but they have all been within the sterile environment of press junkets, red carpets, and other typical
events. The primary concern for each of these interviews has always been the
promotion of a film being released, and even the most candid responses to my
questions felt slightly self serving. My interview with German filmmaker Uwe
Boll was nothing like this.
Since this was my first real interview, I had no idea how atypical it was until I’d had years of experience as comparison. Ten years later, I still have experienced nothing like this. To begin with, I was contacted directly by Boll and his collaborating screenwriter, Michael Roesch. There were no studio lackeys or public relations employees to set up the interview, and to this day I’m not even sure how they got my information. I had previously reviewed the DVD release of House of the Dead (2003), but don’t recall my assessment of the film being flattering enough for them to choose me for a one-on-one interview to promote the theatrical release of their next video game adaptation, Alone in the Dark (2005).
Stranger yet was the choice of location for this interview, which was in a West Hollywood Coffee Bean, surrounded by unsuspecting patrons. We talked about their latest release, as well as Boll’s upcoming projects including Bloodrayne, but the interview really got interesting when he began to criticize some of the year’s most acclaimed films and filmmakers. This was coming from the filmmaker who had received most media attention for being compared to Ed Wood and called the worst living director. Despite having no new projects being released in the near future, Boll has been in the news recently for more of this type of ranting against those far more successful than him.
It seems that Boll was unsuccessful in crowdfunding for the second sequel in his Rampage franchise, and responded by creating a You Tube video aptly titled “fuck you all.” In this video the controversial cult director slams the popular method for funding vanity projects, as well as giving a last-minute blow to the Marvel movie franchise (he was already bashing the rising popularity of comic book adaptations in my 2005 interview included below). In another video he lifts up a copy of Hollywood Reporter, pointing out photos of
celebrities that he then rants and raves about for several minutes, including
George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, claiming that “they’re all fucking
each other in the asses.”
But it isn’t just the cast of Ocean’s 11 that seems to have irritated Boll, with even Ben Kingsley (who starred in Bloodrayne) on the receiving end of attacks. He appears to be telling all of
to kiss his ass, claiming to already “have enough money to play golf until I’m
dead.” You might assume that this is the end of Boll’s career, but this just
seems to be business as usual for the unpopular filmmaker. From the ranting he
did for my interview in 2005 to a 2006 boxing challenge against the critics he
blamed for the destruction of his career (I didn’t get an invite, although I’m
not sure if I should take that as a compliment), Boll is famous for loudly
dissenting against Hollywood practices. But does Hollywood care enough to respond? Boll seems
to be the equivalent of a small yapping dog in the entertainment industry; everyone
is quite certain that there is no bite to worry about, regardless of how
irritating the barking becomes. Think I’m being unfair, Mr. Boll? I’m ready to
enter the boxing ring any time you are. Hollywood
Below is my original interview from 2005, including his criticisms of comic book films, Clint Eastwood, Keanu Reeves, and several other films far more successful than his own. At least he has stayed consistent in the last ten years.
Uwe Boll and Michael Roesch Interview- January 25th, 2005
Sitting in a coffee shop on Sunset, Director Uwe Boll drinks coffee and enjoying a bagel as he talks about his latest projects, including Alone in the Dark, which is to be released this Friday. Writer Michael Roesch sits, waiting to jump into the conversation any chance he can. Michael has such a passion for the films that he writes he often wants to talk about all of the projects at the same time. Each one is as special as the last to him. Uwe Boll excuses himself from time to time, answering his phone during this busy, pre-release, schedule. Both seem to have deep appreciation for film, understanding that their films may not be for everyone, but also knowing some people will love them.
Ryan Izay –So, you’ve got three projects going right now, with Alone in the Dark, Bloodrayne and Far Cry. Tell me where you are at with Bloodrayne right now.
Uwe Boll - You know the cast of Bloodrayne is a great cast; Kristanna Loken, Michelle Rodriguez, Michael Madsen, and Ben Kingsley. It’s a little like a horror fiction Interview with a Vampire right now. It’s because there are so many great characters. There’s Meat Loaf and Billy Zane and Udo Kier. It’s a period piece because it plays two hundred years ago, but it’s also a video game based movie, so it is an interesting combination that nobody has done so far. Let’s wait and see. I’m quite confident that it turns out very good, but it is an unusual movie. If you were to compare it to Elektra or Catwoman, we don’t have this over-the-top hero, flies around and walks up walls. It’s more (of a) dry violent movie, what we did. It’s a lot of gore and it’s definitely a hard R rating.
RI- I’ve heard Bloodrayne compared to Braveheart. Would you say that this is accurate in any way?
UB- The way we did the action, and the way we did the swordfight and this kind of stuff is similar. Story wise, not, because it’s not a heroic movie. It is a horror movie.
RI- You have made three video game movies, and plan to make more. What is your fascination with video games?
UB- I think video games are more interesting than comic books. I think comic books are made into movies already a lot, and they are even making movies now out of small comic books. Video games are really bestsellers for the younger generation in the way that they are more influenced by video games than books or comic books. This is the reason we do the movies, and I personally like the stories. They are clear, forward, and as a genre fan I like these kinds of movies.
Michael Roesch- Me too. I’ve always wanted to make genre movies, like horror and thrillers. A lot of actors want the opportunity to make these horror movies, which I love.
(Uwe excuses himself to take a phone call.)
RI- Michael, you got your start as a film journalist, correct?
MR- Yeah, I sold some scripts, but they were never made, but now I’ve got Alone in the Dark opening Friday and I wrote a script for Michael Hurst, House of the Dead 2, which got filmed in December by Mindfire Entertainment.
RI- Will that be released anytime soon?
MR- Absolutely. I think it’s now in post-production.
RI- Can we expect it to be similar to the original film?
MR- The movie is actually going a lot closer to the game. It involves a college campus and as we get deeper into it and deeper into it, more people die. It’s a really cool movie. It’s showing more like the original video game.
MR- Yes, absolutely.
RI- How was that the two of you got connected to begin with?
MR- That’s a good question. (Uwe joins the conversation.) He asked when we first met. We met for the first time at the
film festival. He was the only director in Berlin that liked to make genre
pictures and not only other pictures and we met at a kind of restaurant. Germany
UB- No, in the screening. (Pauses) No, first at the restaurant, and I invited you to the screening, and you came to the German Fried Movie screening.
UB- So, from this point on we stayed in contact.
MR- Oh, I think it’s a classic video game. It’s a really cool script. We really wanted to make a movie about this guy who is chasing creatures all day. It’s a very dark video game.
UB- After the more or less brainless House of the Dead, where the action was everything and no story basically, we wanted to do a movie where there was actually a story. That way you could get bigger actors attracted. I think with Alone in the Dark nobody has to know the video game to like the movie. It has a lot to do with the video game; the names and the characters and set-ups, but it is not necessary to know the video game.
RI- Would you say that there is still a large amount of violence and action in Alone in the Dark?
UB- Yeah, you will see it is very gory. It’s an R rating, and we have people get ripped apart. I personally like gore. I personally would never go- like a few weeks ago in
there was the Anacondas, the new
movie, and it was like PG. I didn’t even look at it, because I cannot stand
horror movies that are not R rated. I don’t want to see it. So, in all of my
movies there is always a lot of violence. Germany
UB- The humor comes from Christian Slater. He is not, let’s say depressed Keanu Reeves guy. He makes a joke or talks, like for example Stephen Dorff is his competitor in the movie and if he comes to, for example, the museum and get attacked by creatures and Stephen Dorff is coming, and he says, “Always coming in the nick of time,” because Stephen Dorff is always coming too late. In a way, the danger is all gone, and Stephen Dorff comes in, and he makes jokes about this, which is pissing Dorff off.
UB- It was surprisingly easy. Christian Slater is a very nice, easy going, and forward, guy. He’s so talented. He can tell you a joke, and then he turns around and plays a very straight, serious scene. Stephen Dorff is more of a method actor, so he is like in his part. So if he is pissed in his part he is pissed also around you. So he was, in the beginning, very aggressive to everybody; like the wardrobe, costume, make-up, like, “Ahhh, it’s all shit.” But after like a week he got more and more relaxed and everything was fine. And so in the end he would go out for drinks, together with Slater. Also Tara Reid. I would summarize it that it was her first horror movie. She’s a good actress. She’s doing everything that you require, but she was hurt on her legs and her feet, because she was not used to it. Like running, jumping, or whatever; it was a little hard for her. But she tried it and I think actually that we have a character in the movie that is not used to the horror genre makes it even more interesting.
MR- It depends on what actors are available, but personally I feel that Christian Slater is perfect. He looks like Edward Carnby in the games, and he acts like Edward Carnby in the games. I’m a huge fan of the games. It’s a huge reason why I wanted to write the script. And Stephen Dorff is a fantastic actor, Commander Burke, who is head of the unit, which is a kind of government agency. And there is a conflict between Commander Burke and Carnby, and like Uwe said, they are perfect for it.
RI- How did you cast the film? Who was the first of the three attached to the project?
UB- Christian Slater. He liked the part. He liked the video game. He played the video game. It was funny because Stephen Dorff was next and Tara Reid was last, but it was a funny situation. Slater’s agent was calling us, I think, and then Tara Reid’s agent was passing by the door and he heard the conversation. And he heard that we maybe wanted to go for Jessica Alba, and he said, “No, no, no. Tara Reid will do it. So he basically came in the room and said that Tara Reid would do it. And so this is how it came to Tara Reid. It is not a typical cast for this type of movie. I was not thinking of her to be honest, and then he came up with the idea and I called her on the telephone and I talked with her for forty-five minutes. So we said, “Okay, let’s try it.”
UB- It’s like what we did with Bloodrayne. You have a list and you think, like, Jessica Biel, Jessica Alba, Kristanna Loken… Actresses you know can do action, and are used to it. It’s limited what actors you can use, and to go against trend, is an interesting choice, especially since in Alone she has to do so much running. But it’s not like Bloodrayne where she really has to bite other people and kill other people, ongoing. So a movie like Bloodrayne, you couldn’t do with an actress like Tara Reid. It’s not physically possible. Christian Bale was originally in the run for Slater’s part. He was interested, but we felt that Bale is a really good actor, and I really like him, but with him the movie would be very in his character sense, driven. I liked it to have Edward Carnby also clever. That he’s not only straight and hard and dark. I don’t want to have a Brandon Lee, The Crow, character. I wanted to have a guy who was actually like an investigator, who is thinking about stuff and trying to survive and everything, but should be having some good lines from time to time.
RI- Do you think this film will be a comeback for Slater?
UB- I’ve personally always liked him a lot. I think his acting is good. He’s done a lot of good movies. Since True Romance I’m a big fan of him. I hope that a lot of people want to see him. After Hard Rain, basically was his last big movie. Hopefully there are a lot of Slater fans out there. We’ll know in two weeks, I think.
RI- How was it shooting, and writing, with a creature that required a great deal of
UB- Writing it is easier.
MR- I just write a monster comes through the door.
UB- On set it is a little bit hard. You have to do something for them to react. I always do some noises. (Growls) Because it is tough to react to absolutely nothing.
MR- There was scenes with the huge creature, and there was only a few boxes around. There is a lot of action, but it is only a few boxes. It is hard for the actors and for the director.
UB- And the problem is that in those scenes, if you have massive action, with everything floating around of whatever, then the actor doesn’t know where the monster is. It’s different if you say, okay you stay here and then the monster comes and cuts your head off. It’s easy. But if you run away, it’s tough. We basically changed a lot of the animation to the eyes of the actor, where they are looking. We conformed it to the actors. It was tough developing the creatures, because whatever you do, you are coming into the Alien thing. You have no choice. Are you going to do a
monster, or are you going to do an Alien.
I think we did six foot 3D models, and we found an interesting monster, where
you have the tail coming forward and out of the tail you have spikes coming
out. To make it more interesting and not repeat. Jurassic Park
RI- Are you happy with the final product, how the creatures turned out?
CGI is great. It is not
one percent less than Alien Vs. Predator
in quality. And Doug Oddy and his CGI
team did The Cell and Panic Room before, so they are very
experienced. What I like about these guys is they are doing it more dry and
photo realistic so its not fantasy or CGI
stuff. It’s there, and I really like it.
MR- Somebody was saying that it’s better than Spider-man, and it’s a huge compliment.
UB- Spider-man, I wouldn’t say it’s better than.
MR- A guy on the internet was viewing the movie and he said it was better than Spider-man.
MR- Yeah, today.
UB- Yesterday was the first press screening. In
or somewhere. Jo Blo saw it and he
really liked it. Lion’s Gate…I asked if I should come to the press screening
and they said no. They said it’s really not allowed for me to come. In Toronto we do
things a little differently. Normally Germans want to talk to the director and
ask questions after the movie. They said no, no, no. It’s all about Tara Reid. Germany
MR- Is Tara Reid going?
UB- People that hated The House of the Dead, they hate me. If you go in the chat rooms, they are flipping out, and they have never seen Alone in the Dark. They judge it because of one movie they didn’t like. They should see Heart of America, they will see it is a very good movie. I’m really proud of that movie and it has nothing to do with video games. It’s not a genre movie, it’s a drama, but it is good acting and script and it works. I say, wait and see Alone in the Dark. It is a movie that is hard to hate. It is far better in everything; not only the acting, the story, the
The set-up is bigger. It was a bigger budget. People cannot say Alone in the Dark is worse. You can
still say “I don’t like it.” But it’s not like you are going to be upset about
the movie. I also judge hard. If I go in the theater to see movies I’m also a
brutal reviewer. If I see a movie like SWAT,
for example. I hated it. It didn’t make sense, and it was heroic things the
whole time. It is over-the-top. Like Alien
vs. Predator. I enjoyed it because I was expecting nothing. And Resident Evil 2. I enjoyed it also. I
cannot say that I would write after it that I hated it.
MR- I think it’s because it’s a video game movie. Video games have such a large following and people are so emotional about them. I also liked Resident Evil. You should not have expectations like an Academy voter. I saw Million Dollar Baby and it’s a really amazing movie, but it’s a film for Academy Awards. If you’re talking about a fun movie, where you see fun and creatures and shooting.
UB- Every movie has its place and its audience, and from time to time- I just saw Shaun of the Dead and I really enjoyed it. I was laughing because it’s funny. I liked it, but it’s dumb. I know many people that would hate it. They would think they would not want to lose ninety minutes of my time for this brainless shit, but I like this kind of movie. It depends. I try to make it better in every case. I learned from House of the Dead, like that the script wasn’t good, and the cheesy dialogue, and you can’t save everything in the editing. You have to have a better script before you start. Guinevere Turner, she wrote Bloodrayne, and she wrote American Psycho. She is not dumb or something. She is not used to genre movies at all, and that’s the reason we hired her. It’s really a good character script. That is why people like Ben Kingsley played in that movie. You will not see Ben Kingsley in Jeepers Creepers. This is because the script worked good, and Alone in the Dark was good. Bloodrayne was even better. It will be better and better and better. Far Cry will also be very strong. It’s also a learning process. Nobody can say, “I am perfect, whatever I do”. It’s not the case.
RI- Are there any other video games that you have considered making movies out of?
UB- Yesterday we actually met about Soul Calibur. People are devoloping it. There are a lot of games that would be good movies. Now people are coming to me also. But it must make sense and it must be new genres. I don’t want to make one zombie movie after the other, or one creature movie, or one sci-fi movie. Hitman, I really want to do because I’m a big fan of the story, and I’m a big fan of The Professional from Luc Besson. I’ve never seen a movie like this. The Hitman is not repeating The Professional, storywise, but the movie could be made in the same genre.
RI- How was it working with Ben Kingsley?
UB- I called him and he said I shouldn’t talk with him about it. He said he knew how he was going to play Kagan, the big vampire, and he played him perfect. I talked with my agent and he told me, “Ahh, Ben Kingsley is shit”. I said, “You’re not getting it. He’s a ghost. He’s four hundred years old, and he is the leader of all the vampires”. He plays it like Schindler’s List and Gandhi, really calm and straight, and the violence is coming out of the quiet. Then he grabs someone and sucks a young girl or kills. He’s not the kind of guy you can have yelling around. It’s idiotic. For this you don’t hire Ben Kingsley. Not everyone gets this.