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V For Vendetta - Joel Silver/James McTeigue interview

Natalie Portman in V For Vendetta

Interview by Rob Carnevale

Q. How much did last year’s July 7 terror attacks on London affect the making of the film? Are there scenes that had to be left on the cutting room floor?
James McTeigue: We’d actually finished shooting the film by then. The film is the film. Those were completely tragic, horrible events that happened on July 7 but I think you just have to go with the material. It was the material that you always had so it didn’t affect the film on the cutting room floor at all.

Q. Is there any truth to the reports at the time that the release of the film was pushed back because of the sensitivity surrounding the London bombings?
Joel Silver: We had intended to release the movie on November 5 last year because we thought that would be a wonderful marketing idea. But we finished shooting in September and the idea of getting it done by November was impossible. We also realised that November 5 was only a one territory holiday. Yes, it was a very important territory holiday but to kill ourselves and get the movie done when, around the world, that day wouldn’t have meant as much as it would here didn’t seem appropriate. We just decided to pick the date The Matrix opened in most of the world. At the end of the day, it worked out really great because the world seems to have got to a place where I think the movie is even more relevant now than it was several months ago.

Q. Do you think a film like this could have been made in America? Or would a major landmark being blown up by the so-called hero not be tolerable in any other territory?
Joel Silver: We followed a graphic novel that was created in the ‘80s. At that point it was a discussion of Thatcher England at that time. But we’ve translated the graphic novel to the movie as closely as we could. That story took place here. We shot a lot of the movie in Berlin because it was economically advantageous for us to do that. But we were here for two weeks and we shot a lot of outdoor scenes here. This is where the story took place so we tried to replicate the novel as much as we could.

Q. Do you think people are generally ready to embrace such a strong politically-themed film?
Joel Silver: The action genre is kind of designed for a young male audience. But we found on The Matrix that we hit the Valhalla of movie-making, which is the four quadrant audience – the young male audience, the older male audience, the young female audience and the older female audience. I think this movie could really achieve that as well. It has a lot to offer and we’re finding in our research now that we are appealing to all four quadrants.
James McTeigue: I think in the vernacular of everyday life, the discussions that happen in the film and what the film’s about are what’s in the news every day. I just think that bleeds into cinema, or the arts, or music. So I think the film is just trying to address what’s out there at the moment.

Q. How much of a disappointment was it that Alan Moore didn’t want to be involved?
Joel Silver: Of course we were disappointed but he was very clear that he didn’t want his name on the movie, or be involved, and we were happy to oblige him. I hope that one day he sees it because I think it’s the best translation of any of his work to film. I believe we tried to be very respectful to the material. But this was the way it had to be done so we went with it. David Lloyd has been very supportive of the movie, though.

Q. Do you view V For Vendetta personally as just another action movie or is there a particular pride in making films like The Matrix that actually cause more discussion?
Joel Silver: I’ve made a lot of stupid action films in my life but I like stupid action films and am kind of proud of them. But we found in The Matrix that people were willing to accept something more. It was a smarter film. I will always continue to make stupid action films but I think V For Vendetta is a very smart film and I think that people will feel differently about things when they see it. It makes you think about things that are going on, there’s a lot of dialogue in it – more than I’m used to – and while I do blow buildings up again, they get to talk about it a little more. But I think that it’s something that we should be doing. Our responsibility as filmmakers is to make things that are fresh, unique and original and I think this movie is that.

Q. Have you decided on what you’re going to do for the DVD on this one?
James McTeigue: This film started as a 156-page script, so it was pretty long. I subscribe to the Coen brothers theory a little bit, which is if you’re going to do a director’s cut make it shorter if you possibly can! Having said that, there’s a great documentary on Guy Fawkes on the DVD and there’s another really good documentary on the notion of the graphic novels in society.

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