CANNES: "Da Vinci Code" Director and Cast Speak

by | May 18, 2006 | Comments

"The Da Vinci Code" director Ron Howard and star Tom Hanks said they hope audiences will enjoy the film and that it will spark discussion, but it shouldn’t be regarded as theology. The director and star, along with cast members Audrey Tautou, Jean Reno, Ian McKellen, Paul Bettany, Alfred Molina discussed the film at a press conference Tuesday.

Left to right: Paul Bettany, Jean Reno, Audrey Tautou, Ron Howard, Tom Hanks, Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina

Hanks said the appeal of "The Da Vinci Code" for him was that it is the type of movie he would want to see in the theater.

"As a guy who likes to go see movies, I like two things," he said. "I certainly like crackerjack entertainment. At the same time, I want to be challenged somehow. I want to see movies that are provocative."

The film should be considered a fictional work to provoke thought, not something to be taken literally, Howard said.

"This is supposed to be entertainment," he said. "It’s not theology, and I don’t think it should be misunderstood as such. Yes, it stimulates conversation, but that’s what good fiction does. In that spirit, it’s ultimately a positive thing.

"Audiences are very, very intelligent, and I think they’re often underestimated," he continued. "I think they can arrive at their own conclusions. But one of the things that the movie and the book does underline is that life is a continuing mystery, and one of the gifts we have, from God, if you will, is our mind. We have a curiosity and a desire to explore and understand."

"I don’t think a motion picture of any sort of stripe, particularly one that’s obviously an entertainment, one that’s a commercial enterprise, that is going to specifically alter how anyone feels about their place in the universe," he said.

Still, Howard said he knows there are many — particularly devout Christians — who are wary of the film at best. He said that one solution is to avoid the movie.

"Given the nature of the story, there’s no question that the film is likely to be upsetting to some people," he said. "My advice is to not go see the movie if you think you’re going to be upset. Or wait — talk to someone who has seen it, discuss it, and then arrive at an opinion about the movie."

McKellen said he feels the controversy may have something to do with the medium.

"When the book came out, the controversy that you’re all interested in didn’t seem to exist," he said. "Is that because readers can be trusted to have minds, whereas people who go to see movies are the mindless masses that need to be protected? I believe cinemagoers are just as intelligent as readers, and they’ll make up their own minds. In the meantime, they’ll have a thoroughly fantastic time."

One of the other reasons the film might evoke passions is that it’s based on a popular book, Howard said.

"Certainly you’re taking on an adaptation of a novel with a high profile," he said.

But Howard said he’s not concerned about the box office numbers as much as he is telling a story. He also said he hasn’t read any reviews of "The Da Vinci Code," which is currently at 19 percent on the Tomatometer.

"I choose films because the subjects fascinate me and I’d like to spend a year and a half or two years of my life telling that story," he said. "I hope it’s successful, but I don’t choose movies based on that."

Hanks also addressed a lesser controversy that has swirled around "The Da Vinci Code" — his pseudo-mullet.

"It’s not up to me to decide whether I’m having a bad hair day," he said. "I trust the press to communicate that opinion around the world with lightning speed."

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