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Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)

The world will tremble.

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Old Jul 8, 2006, 06:01 PM   #1
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Sky Captain & the World of Tomorrow: Interviews

Jude Law Interview

Q: You were so enthusiastic about this project that you took a producerís credit as wellÖ

JUDE: This came to me through Jon Avnet. Iím sure you heard that in the beginning, there was this teaser and this great script. Kerry was a first-time director so there was very little put together other than that [teaser]. I saw something in that. It was a world that I liked and known about as a kid and felt I could offer something. It was perhaps the first time I felt my name, as an actor, could empower someone to get their project going and that was something I was keen and happy to be a part of doing. I think if you get the sense that you have an opinion that is worthy, you know about a subject, and you feel like you can offer more than just your role as an actor, then I think itís something you should embrace.

Q: As a producer and actor, what was the most exciting part of wearing two hats?

JUDE: What was exciting was that it was a meeting of two worlds. There was a world I knew very little about, the world of Kerryís post-production genius and a world that we needed to come up with a very comfortable and very animated set in which actors could interact. We really wanted to make that as harmonious as possible. When it went into production, my role as producer was keeping the floor as focused on Kerry but also as freeing as possible. We had three sets with a crew that were moving as fast as any crew Iíve ever seen. Then there were the "brain batch," the people who were on the computers, and then there were the actors. It seemed important to keep that communication fluid.

Q: Was this a walk in the park for you in that you had to rely completely on your imagination?

JUDE: It wasnít in some ways. Itís not like performing Chekov or Shakespeare but at the same time there was a different challenege which was walking that line of playing it for real or sending it up. We were trying to play homage to this genre rather than spoof it. I think also keeping the focus of reality and as I said before, trying to create an environment where we werenít focused on looking at orange balls and this and that. We really wanted to get a sense of intensity and reality so that once the world around us was painted in, there would be a sense of presence rather than just venues of actor world.

Q: Was doing an action adventure movie something you had always wanted to do because werenít you up for doing ďSupermanĒ at one point?

JUDE: Me and half the world. Iím part of the generation that grew up with Star Wars and the first Indiana Jones. I remember Saturday morning in England was always Flash Gordon or Zorro. Itís something you grow up doing as a kid. I certainly did make believe riding around a horse or riding on a plane when youíre in your bed. So I suppose when youíre ina posiitin where you can step into that world, you really want to embrace [it] and I think having children of your own really heightens it.

Something I was really keen to do, which I think we did, was to find someone who was less complex and seedy kind of hero. I like the non-cynical, more pure approach of this film. It seems like the action adventure genre is slipping kind of quickly. This is the kind of film you want to take your kids to and itís all about drug dealers and gun smuggling and the bad guy is this crack snorting lunatic with a mohawk. Itís a little depressing. Iím all for popcorn movies but I think there has to be room for [movies] with a little innocence to them. I like the wise-cracking innocence of this and the straight forwardness of Joe Sullivan.

Q: Do you like taking risks? This was a first-tine director and no one quite knew how it would turn outÖ

JUDE: Itís funny. I didnít feel like it was. I like challenge and I like taking risks but it didnít feel like a risk Kerry was so elegant and so clear in what he wanted to create. It seemed very clear in the six minute [clip] that he wanted to do something very magical. After those six minutes, I got a real sense of incredible composition, timing, rhythm and artistry. And in the script, I got a real sense of someone who you can rely on that to make a good film. Itís got a great central relationship. sort of this bantering, bickering, 1930s-type relationship. will they? wonít they? are they pals or lovers? that, to me, was the core of the piece and something kerry really wanted to embellish and take further. so it never felt like a leap of faith until I saw it.

Q: So is redoing ďAlfieĒ a kind of a risk?

JUDE: A different kind of risk. A very different kind of challenge. A different challenge because we were trying to take an iconic character and bring him into the modern world. Or a very particular philosophy or sexual territory and bring it into the world with modern women. With classic films, people have great vestige in them so itís a different kind of challenge, different kind of risk.

Q: Alfie isnít really a likable character and most actors donít want to step into that kind of role because heís a jerk. You didnít have any reservations about it?

JUDE: To be honest, that was the side of him I liked the most. What worried me more was playing up the [type] of character which I always found shallow and a little bit uninteresting. What was interesting for me was getting to my age and realizing that thankfully, I didnít play that kind of role in my 20s. In the world of a 30 year old, there is something slightly more complex and questionable. It was that side of him that I found more interesting.

Q: Did you try to soften him up more in this version?

JUDE: Oh God no.

Q: So heís still a jerk?

JUDE: Still a jerk, but likable.

Q: Youíre in like 17 movies coming out this fallÖ

JUDE: 21 actually. (Laughs)

Q: Do you feel any danger of being overexposed?

JUDE: Yeah, I do actually. It took me two years to make them all and we got a saying in London that if you wait for a bus for an hour, four all come at the same time. I took two years making them so itís just my luck that theyíre all coming out within four months [of each other]. The one good thing I think is that theyíre all completely different. Theyíre all in the hands of wonderful directors and in some way or another, will appeal to very different audiences. And I think, in my opinion, that theyíre all good!
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Old Jul 8, 2006, 06:01 PM   #2
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Re: Sky Captain & the World of Tomorrow: Interviews

Gwyneth Paltrow Interview

By Thomas Chau in New York City

Gwyneth Paltrow hasnít been seen in a wide release since 2001ís ďShallow Hal.Ē Her smaller releases (ďA View from the Top,Ē ďSylviaĒ) didnít fare too well, both critically and financially, but Gwyneth didnít fall too far off the spotlight. Her much publicized romance with Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin was a hot topic for tabloids. This past May, Gwyneth gave birth in England to Apple, her new baby girl.

Gwyneth once again steals the spotlight as she co-stars with Jude Law in ďSky Captain and the World of Tomorrow,Ē the action-adventure fantasy picture from first time writer/director Kerry Conran. Set in 1939 New York City, Gwyneth plays Polly Perkins, a reporter with a knack for getting too deep into the story. When several scientists mysteriously disappear and New York City is attacked by giant robots, the country calls on a brave war leader named Sky Captain (Law) who must stop a mad scientist from world domination. ďSky Captain and the World of TomorrowĒ co-stars Angelina Jolie, Giovanni Ribisi, and Bai Ling.

The Academy Award-winner was in New York City to talk about her new project, as well as being a mother for the first time.

Q: So why did you decide to join a project like this?

GWYNETH: I had already basically agreed to do it when I read it. Kerry Conran made in his garage a six-minute short which is basically like the fake trailer for the movie. And Jude was already in it and producing it, and I met Jon Avnet and Jude and [producer] Sadie [Frost] at their offices in London. And they kind of described to me what the story was. Jon Avnet for a while had been trying to get me the script. He said: I've got to give you the script but I have to be in the room with you to show you this thing and explain it all, and I was kind of like, what is he talking about? And then when we finally did all get in the room and he showed me the short, it looked so incredible and stylish and unlike anything I had ever seen. I thought - if there's ever tiome to do an action adventure movie, it's in a situation like this where it's a new technology and it's with Jude. So I got really excited, and I said, "O.K., I'll do it." And they were like, "Wait! You gotta read the script." I already knew I was going to do it, and then when I read the script, I decided it was exactly what I expected, but more because because of the - I found it very stylish, I keep saying that word - the banter between them - I had a very strong kind of vision of what the hair and the costumes should look like and stuff like that - it was just exciting.

Q: Polly Perkins has a very unique look about her. Did you have any input into that?

GWYNETH: Yes. I always work with the same hair woman. I have for years. She's an Englishwoman named Kay and she does the most incredible hair and wigs and extensions and stuff like that, and I just knew I wanted to be super blonde and then she sort of designed the Veronica Lake hair style.

Q: You looked like a prototype girl from the 1930s...


Q: Did you think of Lois Lane?

GWYNETH: Yeah. It's a funny classic archetype in a way: woman reporter who has lots of guts and wants to get her story. You can go back throughout cinema and find this type of character.

Q: A lot of this film is just you and Jude in front of a big blue screen. How important was it that you two had worked before?

GWYNETH: I think it was very important because we're very comfortable with each other. We are friends. There's an ease between us and I really feel like it was an advantage. We had a history and we knew each other and we could just kind of be free and - cause it's very bizarre working in just a sea of blue with no props. It's strange.

Q: But how do you get yourself in that mode of working with practically no props or sets?

GWYNETH: It's just a leap of faith and imagination, really. I kept watching the short film because it really kind of created the tone and style in my mind. You really have to hang onto the other actor in that scenario.

Q: Was this an easy shoot for you or difficult?

GWYNETH: In a way it was, because I knew how I wanted to do it, but in a way it was scary because I didn't know if the way I wanted to play it in the context of the filom was going to work. Because I didn't know how it was going to look and I thought I understood the tone and how to play it, which was very straight. You had to play it very straight and that sort of gives it the slight irony - winking at all the movies of its kind and all of that. So it did require a kind of like: O.K., let's just do it and cross our fingers and hope that it all comes together.

Q: Did you find it ironic that you use the latest technology to do a retro adventure movie?

GWYNETH: Well, that's what was so amazing about it. That because it took place in 1939 and because it was a retro idea of what the future would be, I thought that was very appealing and that it would have a very interesting look and Kerry would show us drawings of robots and it was so imaginative because he really captured that retro futuristic look.

Q: Paramount has set this up to be the first of three movies potentially. Would you come back for the sequel?

GWYNETH: I think I would. If it was something new again. If the story was good, I think we would do another one. It was really so much fun. And it was perhaps 6 weeks of work. Normally if it's a movie like this, it's a hundred shooting days, which is insane, but it was really easy and fun.

Q: Have you seen the movie yet?

GWYNETH: I have, I have.

Q: Is it what you imagined?

GWYNETH: It looks like I imagined but better. You know, I just loved the little touches. "The Wizard of Oz" playing behind us and how Radio City looks. I think it has a great look.

Q: Was this the weirdest acting you've ever done?

GWYNETH: It was weird but I really just embraced it and thought it was so much fun. I really had a good time doing it. This is like another skill, and I thought, well, this could be the way that movies go. It's not necessarily always watch out for the robot, but it might be easier in five years and less expensive to go into a blue room and shoot a scene instead of flying everyone to Paris and doing a scene in front of the Eiffel Tower. They could just "make" it, so there is a sense that this could be happening, and it is happening in film, and I thinkl it's an important skill to learn - to learn how to conjure what you need to conjure without actually having it there. It's just kind of an extension of what we do anyway.

Q: What is your most embarassing moment ever?

GWYNETH: I've told this story before but it is actually my most embarrassing moment: I was at a premiere and I was wearing a pair of pink suede trousers and when I got up, I thought something was a bit wrong, and actually my trousers had split. The whole crotch had split all the way up at the back. This was like not at a friend's house; there was press everywhere. So I just grabbed [something] and wrapped it around myself.

Q: What's your next role?

GWYNETH: Nothing. Breast-feeding is my current role.

Q: How is motherhood?

GWYNETH: Phenomenal. It's beyond...it's just the best thing that's ever happened to me.

Q: How much will you work now?

GWYNETH: I definitely won't do multiple films a year. No way. And I won't work soon. I'm thinking of doing a couple of tiny parts, like a cameo in one thing and maybe a little tiny part in something else - just to see if I can do it. but I think it will be a while before I do something that's like a big proper role.

Q: Is this the first movie starring Mommy that you will show Apple?

GWYNETH: Well, "Emma" is rated PG too so it will be either this or "Emma."
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Old Jul 8, 2006, 06:02 PM   #3
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Re: Sky Captain & the World of Tomorrow: Interviews

Kerry Conran Interview

By Thomas Chau in New York City

Kerry Conran is living every first-time directorís dream: After spending four years working on a 6-minute action scene on his home computer, Conranís film short caught the attention of producer Jon Avnet. Avenet saw that Conran had the ability to make a spectacular action-adventure science fiction film without the $100+ million dollar budget. ďSky Captain and the World of TomorrowĒ later had studios fighting in a bidding war, to which Paramount came out the winner. In addition to making a grand epic fantasy picture for his directorial debut, Conran also gets the accolade of having A-list stars such as Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Angelina Jolie in his first feature film.

Conran tells us how he did it in this interview with Cinema Confidential.

Q: What was it like being a first-time director on a grand feature?

KERRY: I have no perspective on that. I survived it. I can say that. The thing about this thatís kind of unique is that I had so many years leading up to it so that by the time we actually shot the movie with Jude and Gwyneth, I kind of knew it. So I was pretty prepared going into it. I think that if I had just been thrown out there as a conventional film, I would have been balling like a baby the whole time, which I still do routinely now.

Q: Is this the future of filmmaking? Filming entire movies on sound stages without ever having to leave locations?

KERRY: I think to some extent. I think that the writing is in the wall for this type of film - films that are ambitious in scope and scale. I think that the cost thatís involved with it and the publicís appetite to see more bigger things necessitate to something like this. Studios will always be OK in that they have the money. But I think itís how it affects independent filmmakers that I think is most significant in that I think for the first time now, itís possible for a little Renaissance period where you may finally see films that are personal in nature but have the scope and palette of something that was really only possible through a studio. That, to me, is the more exciting aspect of it. Thereís a chance for filmmakers, who would never ever have the chance, to really kind of work on a large scale.

Q: What is the most cutting edge part of this whole process in your perspective?

KERRY: I think it was just completely extracting the actors from their environment. Films have done that routinely when theyíve needed to place them in an area that couldnít be built conventionally. But also to embrace that, including the most mundane things, like a simple room and create the environment, it allowed us to do things, for instance, to shoot the film in 26 days which for an action film, is not too terribly common.

Q: Itís like a low budget indie film..
KERRY: Exactly. And it had that kind of mentality going into it. We had Angelina for three days and shot her part. If you accounted for just the different locations and thatís thing that was traversed, itís just impossible to do it any other way. Literally, with the blue screen soundstage, we broke it up into three different areas. In a span of 10 minutes, you could walk from Nepal, to Radio City Music Hall, to underwater. And walk around circles all day long and shoot anywhere in the world. Thatís whatís different about it in that regards, so I think itís somewhat significant.

Q: Youíre living the dream in terms of a filmmaker who works on a project on his computer and suddenly, itís a big budget feature. Can you walk us through that process?

KERRY: Iím curious to read about it because I donít even know how it happened. Well I had gotten out of film school and again, learned very quickly that the studio wasnít about to hand me a check for $100 million dollars to make a movie. At the time, this was over 10 years ago, and before ďThe Phantom Menace,Ē and the Matrix, and the ďLord of the RingsĒ movies, the computer had gotten to a point where it was trickling down to not necessarily the consumer space, but certainly to an area where you could afford these things. And I had, for the last three years, had studied a lot about traditional animation as well. And so I used the opportunity to sort of marry those two worlds: traditional cell animation and live action. What I really did was sit down and think that I was going to make a feature film on my computer. Over the course of the next four years, I generated six minutes and realized that I needed help. Thatís when I kind of ventured out and actually showed the product of that many years of work. It was essentially the first six minutes of the movie that you saw. So it was the Zephlyn(sp?) and all these robots on the street. I had shown that to John Avnet on a whim and never looked to market it. I never even wanted to show the movie. Iím a bit horrified itís even being shown now. He saw it and his immortal words were he asked me what I wanted and I just said I wanted to finish my movie he said, ďI think we can do that.Ē Six years later, we did do that. I canít speak to what he saw specifically in that and what inspired him to take that leap of faith. Same with Jude and Gwyneth Ė I canít fathom why they took the risks that they did on this. Itís crazy.

Q: Are you surprised that your project attracted this level of actors?

KERRY: Oh yeah. At the time, when John suggested Jude or Gwyneth, it seemed like a cruel joke. Just to even be bringing these people up, and [i] thought ďWeíre wasting time. Letís just dispense with this, get the unknown actors that Iím going to have to use, and move on.Ē Itís just absurd. To this day, itís absurd. So yeah, I am amazed by the whole thing.

Q: Was there any time during those four years working on that six minutes that you thought, ďIím wasting my time, I have no lifeĒ?

KERRY: Well I had no life, thatís a fact. I was so determined to do this. Itís all I wanted to do since my earliest memories and I found a way to do it. I was getting results, however long it was taking. It was slow because my computer, at the time, was probably as powerful as a calculator. I knew I could do it if I just stuck it out. But yeah, along the way, there were nights where I was in the fetal position underneath the desk wondering why I had ever started this.

Q: Why did you shoot in high definition?

KERRY: Well I originally, going back to the roots of this thing in an independent mind, was going to shoot this in mini DV. Actually, I wasnít. This was predated to mini DV. I was actually looking at medical imaging cameras and robotic inspection cameras because they were the only cameras at the time that were progressively scanned, which is to say they created frames rather than fields, which is how television works. So I experimented by trying to use something like that which was what I thought translated to film quite well. But Sony did the work for me. They came out with a camera and that all went away, thank God. It more had to do with immediacy of it. Thereís an enormous expense involved in taking film and scanning it into the computer and creating a digital file, whereas when you shoot digitally, itís digital. Itís ready to go. So we were literally able to take it as itís being shot and work with it immediately with no time between. Itís a pretty remarkable tool in that regard. I wouldnít use it if we didnít filter it so heavily because I still think, to this day, it doesnít look like film. We were able to add to it and bring that quality back to it.

Q: By doing what?

KERRY: Lots of goofy weird stuff. The whole film was made in black and white and we actually applied color to it afterwards. We tried to mimic the two and three script Technicolor process and we created a separate color department. We came upon a formula of sorts which literally took half a year and a year of experimentation to arrive at. It was our secret sauce in terms of taking the black and white and turning it into this. You couldíve done anything you wanted with it. You couldíve made it much more vibrant if you wanted it to but this was what we did.

Q: Will we see the six minute short on the DVD?

KERRY: You sadly will, I think. Itíll be the most disappointing thing youíll ever see in your life.

Q: During the four years you were making this, what did you do to sort of pay the bills?

KERRY: Quite literally, as little as I could. I spent all my time making the film. I had gotten all these strange, computer-related freelance jobs and that was the only thing I allowed myself at the time. They ranged from obscure bits of animation toÖI had been contacted by Knight Ridder (?) to setup, and this again predates to the days of desktop publishing or right in the time it was happening, and they wanted me to experiment and setup an aerospace magazine for them using desktop publishing. And so I was able to go in a do a few jobs like this that took relatively little of my time. Frequently, I would actually barter for equipment, so thatís how I kind of cobbled for a system. Iíd do it for a hard drive, or Iíd do it for a monitor, and not take money, and managed to put together a system even as ancient as it was, allowed me to do what I needed to do.

Q: What was it like to work with Angelina Jolie?

KERRY: Scary. She was amazing actually. I didnít know what to expect and she wasnít what I expected, whatever that was. About the most professional prepared actor, although I donít have much experience with actors. As a human being, she was so prepared for this thing. She was just finishing up ďTomb Raider 2Ē at the time, I think literally, she was being fitted for her costume on the set of that movie and she raced over here. The first thing she had was she had given me this tape of hours and hours of conversations she had with World War II pilots, which I never even did. I think I read a book on a pilot once. So she had concocted this whole thing with this amount of effort and research into it. So she knew what she was doing when she got there. Just the moment decent and down to earth person you could ever imagine. Just great, and like Jude and Gwyneth embraced the whole technical side of the spirit of the movie. So Iím thrilled with what she came away with on this.

Q: The movie has so many great geek moments and references. Is there going to be anything on the DVD that walks us through it?

KERRY: They keep threatening to have a spastic group of us sit down and talk through the movie so we may do that. That would be the only opportunity to detail some of that. That sort of what happened when we started making the film. When I wrote the script, I wasnít like ďIím going to take this from this.Ē It was really just a story. I sort of modeled the island after Skull Island and obviously Moreauís island and just decided to put the wreckage of the Venture. Why not? Then we just got out of control so inside the gallery, when they walk into before they see Totenkopf, weíve got Excaliburís sword, weíve got Medusa, weíve got The Mummy in there. I think we have the larva form of Mothra in the back. Any opportunity we had to make little nods. I donít think weíre distracting for the general public that wonít have any meaning to them but I think for the five people that see some of the things, itís a fun little gesture.

Q: Whatís next for you?

KERRY: Iíve been working with Paramount on trying to bring this series of books called ďJohn Carter of MarsĒ which is Edgar Rice Burroughís novels, to life, who created ďTarzan.Ē I think theyíve attempted to make these films for the last 50 years and have failed so far, so naturally of course, Iím the obvious choice to bring it to life somehow. But no, itís thrilling. I think Burroughís the father of the pulse. A lot of what I reference for this movieÖ and the John Carter series, I think even Lucas had mentioned being heavily influenced for Star Wars. Lord of the Rings drew from that I believe. Itís a very fertile landscape to draw from.

Q: Are you keeping it the post-Civil War period?

KERRY: I think the idea is to keep it pretty faithful to what it was but play with the notion that heís living a bit longer than he should.
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