Superhero Hype! talked to Superman Returns director Bryan Singer about bringing back Superman for both a movie and in the movie itself:
Q: Am I crazy or did I see Kirsten Dunst sitting in the airplane?
Bryan Singer: When you’re doing color timing it’s without sounds and we’ve been doing the timing, the color correction all week and all I’ve been doing at things. When you have sound you’re mixing sound so I don’t even wear my glasses. But when I was watching the footage I found the most bizarre people. I don’t want to draw attention to it because it’s like a guy from “Deliverance.” I don’t know.
Q: Can you talk about the scenes you deleted? I know you shot like a big Krypton scene.
Singer: I did. I shot a lot with the space sequence. Return to Kyrpton. There was a 2 hours and 45 minute cut of the film that I showed to friends and family. While watching it with a group of people, watching the movie unfold I just felt it was really interesting on its own and deserved a life somewhere else. Maybe on DVD. I think it should be on 3D IMAX frankly because it’s designed to be 3D IMAX. At some point I’m sure you’ll see it some time and it’s got a little thing that’s going on. It’s very elegant. In the context of this movie where this movie needed to begin and what it needed to be about, I didn’t feel it. It’s just one of those things that you bravely do. No one told me to do it, to make these cuts. I had no time restrictions. Nor pressure whatsoever. I just felt the movie doesn’t need this so I did something else instead. It could exist later in this form. I think it would be coolest in 3D because of the stuff that’s flying around.
Q: How long could the movie have been?
Singer: It was 2 hours and 45 minutes. That was this cut that I screened for friends and family. That’s why I stepped back and said I, OK the time has come for me to sit back and bring a bunch of people in a room and just watch it with them. You learn a lot from that moment. They don’t even need to say anything to you. I had a few friends I’d ask. But you know it. You feel it in the room. I’ve lost the audience here. Lost them and then at one moment I got them back. You just learn and that was the 2 hour and 45 minute version.
Q: I was surprised at how much it is an homage to the Donner films. I didn’t expect that.
Singer: I’m a big fan of the Donner film. I think what Donner did at that time was kind of summarize what had been done in the original comics and the Fleischer cartoons and the original series and the radio show. I think he had crystallized a lot of that and I didn’t want to retell the origin story. I think if you’re over the age of 25 you know the original Superman. Somewhere you remember it. If you’re under the age of 25 you know Smallville or you just know something about it so I never wanted to tell an origin story. If I was going to tell a return story, I had to pick a place to jump off so I chose Donner’s film that I love so much. There’s different designs you know. The design is very much a nod to the early comics. The art deco and all of that. When it came to the Fortress of Solitude and even the casting of Brandon, it’s very much John Berry and of course Christopher Reeve, things like that come to mind. It has to encompass all of that.
Q: What about casting Brandon? He looks so much like Christopher Reeve.
Singer: It’s uncanny isn’t it? It’s actually not what motivated me to cast him. It just was part of a package. Package (he’s laughing) Part 2. Again he has to look and sound as though he’s stepped out of your collective memory. Part of it is Christopher Reeve and part is George Reeves. Part of it is the height, the character of voice, the high voice, the low voice. (Says in a high voice) This is a job for (says in a low voice) for Superman. So that informed my decision.
Q: The line that Frank Langella says, the truth and justice. Was it deliberate to leave out the American way?
Singer: Yes. They did it so well with justifying the line “truth, justice and the American way” and the original Superman she says “you’re going to end up fighting every politician in Washington.” He says, “you don’t really mean that Lois.” She says, “you’ve got to be kidding.” He says, “Lois I never lie.” And that’s such a great scene because they took that expression, which I don’t shy away from, and they commented on it the way Americans are very passionate, very patriotic and self-depreciating at the same time. Americans are the first people to be weirdly simultaneously patriotic and self-criticizing. It’s one of our rights as Americans. We can do that. With that notion, I didn’t have a better way to take the edge off it so I did it that way. But, he is an American superhero. There’s no denying that. He’s the ultimate immigrant, raised on a farm in Kansas. He represents what we as Americans idealistic want to be. In that way I shy away from it, but I don’t know how to. But, he’s not just fighting for America. He’s fighting for, you know, the world. He always was. So it’s not shying away from it, it’s just treating it in not a better way, but a different way. I couldn’t measure up to how they treated it.
Q: What’s going on the DVD?
Singer: I think there will be some deleted scenes. Some charming scenes. Wonderful things that existed beautifully on their own. Moments that were wonderful. I had a tough thing. James Karen was in the picture and you know he plays this gentlemen Ben Hubbard that Martha Kent has been involved with and it’s wonderful. They’re wonderful beats and hopefully those will be there because I’d hate for people not to see them. It’s the magic of DVD.
Q: Are you going to do an extended cut?
Singer: No, I don’t think I’ll do an extended cut. Not at least in the DVD. I’ve never done that. Those are kind of weird you know. The director’s cut. No this is the director’s cut. You just saw it. They don’t tell me what to cut. I’m not in a place in my career that anyone tells me that I have to cut anything or put anything in.
Q: You had a crew shooting the shooting the whole time. Did they capture anything specifically you’re looking forward to sharing?
Singer: I think so. We’ll see. I’ll look at the footage. I don’t know. We’ll see. I haven’t seen a lot of that stuff cut together. I like what they put in the Weblogs. It’s kind of funny. A little embarrassing, but at least it shows we take the movie more seriously than we take ourselves.
Q: Can you talk a little more about the casting and what appealed to you about Brandon?
Singer: One the physical. Secondly there are aspects of his personality, his upbringing, his view of life, and demeanor that I knew in talking to him that I could draw from. That I could mime for this character and the way I saw this character. I just Supermanism’s Clarkism’s. Different things that I knew I needed for this character and I started to see them in over a two hour conservation with him where by the end of it I got on a plane to location scout in Australia and in my head I didn’t tell anybody, but I said I have my Superman.
Q: Did you talk to a lot of other actors for the role?
Singer: I didn’t talk to a lot of other actors. I saw tapes. For other incarnations of the movie, a lot of movie stars went on tape too so I got to see a lot of movie stars in t-shirts and capes. Strange.
Q: Can you talk about the balance between the emotional aspects of the film and the action sequences.
Singer: The whole thing about action and adventure, it only really works if you care about the people that it’s happening too. The great thing about science fiction and fantasy is you can tell human stories from a complete unique perspective. If you go back and watch the original Star Trek series, if you go back and watch Star Wars, it’s all there. All the human, myth, love all that stuff and yet space ships and stuff. And that’s what great and that’s what intrigues me about this. I want to make a love story. I’ve never made a chick flick. I want to make something that my mother and father will tear watching and yet I love that science fiction and fantasy. Just love it. So how do I merge these two things so that you know the teenager in me will want to run out and see it, but at the same time a grandparent can take the grandkids to see it.
Q: What made Kevin a good Lex Luther?
Singer: He can balance comedy with sadism better than any actor I know. I knew that and in developing the role I always viewed him in my head and it enabled us to write certain moments because I knew I would ask him to do the role. I thought he’d say yes. I hoped he’d say yes. I assumed he’d say yes and then he could execute those moments. And this gives you freedom to be a little wacky and a little vicious. He can do those two things very well.
Q: Why Kate Bosworth for Lois?
Singer: I had seen in her “Beyond the Sea,” Kevin Spacey’s movie that he had directed. I watched it twice. She was really great in the movie. I called Kevin about her and he said she was terrific to work with. Very trusting and then she has great chemistry in the room with Brandon.
Q: You left the X-Men franchise to shoot this. Have you seen the latest film?
Singer: I did. I went opening night to the Chinese Theatre.
Q: What about it did you like?
Singer: I thought when you have to balance all of those characters and then you have to introduce new characters on top of that as well as service all of the characters that have been created. It’s a momentum task. I was genuinely impressed with what he did. I ran into Brett [Ratner] at the theatre and we had this moment. We’re friends so we’re like ‘Oh my God!’ He’s talking to me about the movie. He’s telling me and I’m holding the cup. A Superman cup from the theatre. It’s weird. It’s like when Brandon and I one night, Warner Brothers sent us a print. We’d get Warner Brothers movies sent out there and one night after a long night of shooting me and Brandon and some of the other crew came over and opened a beer and watched “Batman.” Do you know what it’s like to spend all day making “Superman” with Superman and then watching “Batman?” Very bizarre moments.
Q: Is there a point where you rise above thinking these are more than comic book movies?
Singer: Yeah, I think that point came when Richard Donner made “Superman” the movie.
Q: If you do a sequel are you going to put off Logan’s Run again?
Singer: I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.
Superman Returns flies into theaters on Wednesday, June 28th.
Source: Heather Newgen