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King Arthur - Jerry Bruckheimer/David Franzoni Q&A



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. How was it pitched to you and when?
David Franzoni:
I basically walked in and said, ‘so what do you say we do King Arthur as The Wild Bunch’?

Q. And was that all?
A.
Not quite. He had a really worked out story. All the beats that you see in the movie had been worked out. It was like the fall of Saigon, is what he really said. It’s the end of the Roman Occupation of Britain and they’re all leaving, and leaving the country behind, so it’s these last few refuges of valour and honour, to protect the British Isles from the Saxons. That’s what he told us, so I wanted to see that movie. It’s like the Special Forces going to England from Rome and Sarnatia.

Q. You’ve made films all around the world. How long did you have to search for Ireland, or was it a first choice?
A.
Ireland was a place that you could do those big epics, because you could go 45 minutes outside of Dublin and find vistas that are pretty much 360 degrees, with no houses, no television antennas, or cell towers. It made it really easy for us. We couldn’t do that here. We took a helicopter to Hadrian’s Wall and you could see that it’s just so populated around there, you’d have to paint everything out digitally and Antoine didn’t want to do that, which is why we built this wall that was almost a mile long. We built our own Hadrian’s Wall because we were looking for authenticity and to do everything real within the camera, other than the ice battle.

Q. In terms of the casting, you have English actors, Danish actors, and German actors, and that obviously gives you a commercial influence in each of those countries, but also a universality to the story. Is that what you were looking at?
A.
We were just looking for terrific actors, and the fact that a lot came in from different countries, enabled us to find some that were perfect for the movie, and perfect to play knights. None of it was calculated, in my mind, to go and get Til Schweiger, from Germany, or Mads Mikkelsen, from Denmark, because I didn’t know that they were big stars in their home countries. Antoine knew Til from another movie they did together, but I wasn’t aware of it…

Q. But had you pretty much ruled out a big American star? Brad Pitt didn’t interest you?
A.
I think that takes away from the authenticity of the story, especially if you’re trying to do the historical King Arthur. You want to keep it true to British actors, or international actors to play the knights. We weren’t interested in Brad Pitt.

Q. How is work coming on for Pirates of the Caribbean 2, or even 3? Has filming started yet?
A.
No, we hope to start filming in February, and we’re just negotiating deals with all the actors right now. We have Gore Verbinksi, who is close to his deal, so we’ll have the same basic team back. Johnny wants to do it, Keira’s very close to her deal getting done, and it leaves just Orlando, and we know he wants to do it. So we’ll get it done, I think.

Q. Were any of the scenes cut? What will become of them?
A.
They’ll be in the DVD. Sometimes you get a little off story, and your film is always too long… Antoine shot a lot of phenomenal action that, in order to get the PG-13, we had to delete some of it. But that will all be exposed in the DVD, for which we’re going to do an R-rated version. That will be quite spectacular.

David Franzoni

Q. How did you pitch it to Jerry?
A.
I basically walked in and said, ‘so what do you say we do King Arthur as the Wild Bunch?’

Q. Was this script an opportunity to bring together your Celtic roots and your Latin roots?
A.
I completely pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes, yes! Obviously not. I thought it was an opportunity to go back to a period of time that hadn’t been done on film, take a look at the possible roots of Arthur; the guys who came from Sarmatia, and obviously not wanting to be in Britain, who stayed and fought, even after the Roman Empire pulled out. The idea of giving them back their place in history was the one that appealed to me the most.

Q. What is it about Arthur and this whole story that makes it timeless? And yet makes it appropriate for today?
A.
When I was a kid I grew up with Mallory and Arthur and all those types of stories. And I remember seeing a fighter, from World War Two, with Excalibur on the front of it, so it’s a timeless thing specifically for the British and I did want to tread lightly. I think we attempted, in most cases, to honour as much as possible the legend. But, also, again, I felt that we had to create a timeless period about a universal soldier. A man, not unlike a Vietnam soldier, away from home, killing and not liking what he was doing, seeing those people at the end of the war being able to pull out and not being able to… I felt that there was a resonance and a timelessness that worked well.

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