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Shooter - Lorenzo di Bonaventura interview

Michael Pena in Shooter

Interview by Rob Carnevale

LORENZO di Bonaventura, producer of Shooter, talks about some of the challenges of getting the film made – and why he’s long been a fan of the novel upon which it is based…

Q. How did you get involved with Shooter?
A: Stephen Hunter had written seven or eight books on the Swagger character – four on his father and four on Bob Lee. I’d been a fan for a while and Paramount had the project for many years, so when I came over it was one of the projects I begged them for.

Q. So, are we talking franchise?
A: The box office makes that decision for us. I think it’s a character that myself, Antoine Fuqua and Mark Wahlberg would all like to revisit.

Q. The politics of the film are intriguing, especially the suggestion that the enemy comes from within. How much do you have to think about a creative decision like that in order not to antagonise a potential market?
A. The book had a post-Vietnam political background to it and our decision to bring it forward meant that we had to deal with the issues of today. So, we didn’t really think about which marketplace is going to like what. As it turned out, I think we gave a little bit to everybody. There’s definitely people from the right wing who like this movie quite a bit, and from the left wing.

Q. How much do you share the cynicism or realism of the film?
A: Our objective was to make a really entertaining film. But a lot of us are frustrated with our governments, no matter which country we’re from. So we sort of looked at that as a universal disappointment as opposed to something specifically motivated towards the American government. There happens to be some characters in the American government that are fun to poke fun at but I don’t think it’s a reflection on our foreign policy.

Q. You’ve long been a fan of Mark Wahlberg’s. Can you explain why?
A: I grew up admiring the ’70s movies and characters like Dirty Harry and Bullitt. One of the rewarding things for us when we’ve been reading the reviews of Shooter from the States is that they have singled out Mark like Steve McQueen and Clint Eastwood. Those are really great people to be compared with. I think what Mark has always had – and as he grows older people are understanding it more – is the internal sense of who he is. What I like and what I think people like in their heroes is a sense of conviction. So, what I see in Mark as a person is his ability to mature over time and bring that in. We’ve had a lot of conversations about using fewer lines of dialogue. We had really specific things about how as a character he can pull off some of the things that legends are made of. He’ll be a legend, I’ve no doubt about it.

Q. How easy was it to get Shooter off the ground? It doesn’t look cheap to make…
A: In terms of the cost it was relatively modest considering some of the Hollywood numbers. It was in the mid-$60s. But I feel it’s as big as I ever wanted it to be and it wasn’t a really hard job to do that. The novel itself is very long and complicated and it was mired in development hell for 10 or 11 years until Jonathan Lemkin took it on and when we all read his first draft we all said let’s go and make it.

Q. Were you concerned about having to remove the Anna Nicole Smith joke?
A: Well Antoine and I talked about it and it made us stop for a moment and think about it. But the context of the joke was still appropriate. We’d done it well before her death. It’s a series of jokes about what’s not real as opposed to really denegrating something. We also checked in with our audience to make sure we weren’t deluding ourselves.

Read our review of Shooter