South African Gavin Hood directed the Oscar-winning Tsotsi but has also knocked about Hollywood, acted in over a dozen movies and, following his political thriller Rendition, got the nod to helm the blockbuster
X-Men Origins: Wolverine . Though the film drew mixed reviews, its box office has been enough to set in motion plans for a sequel. Recently we caught up with Hood to ask him about it, and share his thoughts on working with Hugh Jackman, comic book movies, and his admiration for fellow countryman Neill Blomkamp.
Will you be directing Wolverine 2?
I have no idea. All that’s happened at the moment is that the studio has just commissioned the script for Wolverine 2 to be written. Whether that film will ever get made will depend on so many factors — whether the studio likes the script, whether they find a director who responds to the script. Might that be me? Sure, I’d be extremely interested and thrilled if they were to send it to me.
How did you try to bring an extra dimension to a comic book movie?
In the original script they were not half brothers. There was some resistance to that, because in the world of the comics there’s only a small suggestion in one particular comic that Victor Creed and Wolverine may well be half brothers. I just gravitated to that. Just having one good guy versus bad guy, with no emotional connection just felt like “Whoa — you’ll have nothing but punching and kicking”. That was a way to build up the emotional power of the film. I thought Liev Schreiber did a phenomenal job. I’m very pleased that on the Blu-ray disc there’s a particular scene that I was attached to that didn’t make it into the movie. I say that without saying “It should have!” I think it probably should have been in the movie, but I understood the argument against it, and at the time there was much to-ing and fro-ing about it. It’s a great thing to be able to put that sort of scene on the Blu-ray and let people think of other themes and idea that were in my mind when we made that scene.
How hard is it to get Hugh Jackman naked?
Well one of things we knew going into the film was that Hugh Jackman was going to have to do a certain amount of nudity in the film. Hugh will tell you how he wanted to be like De Niro in Cape Fear. I was like “Mate, you’re going to be naked — you better buff up”. [laughs] Honestly though, I’ve never seen someone eat so much chicken steak and fish and lettuce for so long without throwing up. It was unbelievable. Seven meals a day of protein and a little bit of salad. No CGI on that body. Except for the claws.
You’re from South Africa; so is Neill Blomkamp. Is this some kind of mini South African sci-fi renaissance? Have you spoken to Neill about District 9
We have spoken because I had to tell him what a phenomenal job he did. I sat there in the cinema — and probably it was a great deal of patriotic pride — but I thought, here was something so fresh and so out there, yet so emotionally powerful. It was just so fantastic to see the originality of the piece.
From a South African perspective, did you find it true to its core?
Yeah. Scarily so. I know those characters. Those [adopts a funny Afrikaans accent] very well meaning policemen, who think they are being very nice to you who, but are completely on the side of authority and they’re patronising you to death. Yeah. We grew up around those guys. Scary.
Which films inspire you?
David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia. I don’t know why I say that, but epic, character-driven. I don’t know that it’s necessarily about genre — I think in every genre there are films that do what they do really well. When you’re looking at film, I don’t think one should necessarily compare a drama with a sci-fi, except to the extent that there should be a good drama within the sci-fi, presumably. Within every genre there’s a high point of that genre. I just find that fascinating — that’s why I loved District 9 , because it brought such a fresh perspective to that genre.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is out now on DVD and Blu-ray.