Exclusive: Manfredi & Hay on The Boys and R.I.P.D.

One of the comics that has had a lot of tongues wagging in recent years is “The Boys,” an irreverent take on superheroes by Garth (“Preacher”) Ennis and Darrick (“Transmetropolitcan”) Robertson, which was published first by Wildstorm and currently by Dynamite Entertainment. It revolves around the government’s decision to have the CIA monitor all superheroes using a Black Ops team called “The Boys” and what happens when a Scottish conspiracy nut named Wee Hughie, whose girlfriend was killed by a superhero, is inducted to join the group when they’re reformed to take down rogue superheroes who have gotten out of control.

The comic was optioned by Jason Netter’s Kickstart Productions, who produced the adaptations of Mark Millar’s Wanted and have been developing Ennis’ Preacher, and it’s being developed by Neal Moritz for Columbia Pictures. The screenplay is being written by Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay, who just happen to have been involved with writing Louis Leterrier’s upcoming remake of Clash of the Titans.

A couple weeks back, ComingSoon.net/SuperHeroHype had a chance to talk to them and find out a little more about their plans for adapting Ennis and Robertson’s creator-owned comic book, as well as find out the status of another comic-based project.

First up, The Boys:

“That’s one that’s like a total dream project for us because we’re such huge fans of the book and of Garth Ennis,” Phil Hay admitted to us. “It’s just been amazing. Neal Moretz, the producer over there, and the studio have been great because they actually really do get what makes the comic book special, and we’re talking to directors on that now, too, so that would be just amazing, and it’s something that’s very close to our hearts.”

“When we began, we got on the phone and spent a lot of time talking to him,” Matt Manfredi told us when asked about Ennis’ own involvement.

“First of all, he’s such a cool guy,” Hay jumped in.

“Awesome guy and he kind of gave us his blessing to take it where we needed to take it,” Manfredi continued. “He said, ‘Don’t be too precious. Feel free to… if you need to kill someone, kill someone.’ Obviously we love love love the books, and the overarching storyline had yet to be finished, so we said, ‘Well, we think this is where it’s going, are we right? Is this going to happen to this character?’ and he was like, ‘You’re close, don’t worry about it. Do what you have to do.’ It wasn’t in a dismissive way, it was in a very generous way.”

“Yeah, and I think ultimately we ended up with the script that we have now,” Hay concluded, “which I think is actually quite faithful version of ‘The Boys’ and then the stuff that’s new hopefully very much fits into the world. In short, he was really great, because he understands I think what it is to adapt something, but I think he also sensed from us that we knew and loved his work in and out and we’re going to find a way to get that up on the screen.”

We wondered whether they were learning more towards the Wanted direction which mostly got rid of the superheroes or whether they were staying more in the Kick-Ass vein, which was extremely faithful. “This is very faithful to the characters,” Manfredi replied. “We kept all the superheroes and we kept all the characters from ‘The Boys’ and we’ve peppered in a few new ones, but in general, we’re pretty faithful to the book.”

When asked whether they might approach Simon Pegg to play the character who visually was based on him, Hay gushed, “I feel you’ve gotta go for it. He’s Wee Hughie!”

“That’s how he was drawn!” Manfredi confirmed.

Hay finished his thought on the subject. “What’s really interesting is that we’ve heard there’s a lot of amazing actors that happen to be huge fans of ‘The Boys’ so it would be amazing to get some of these guys in the cast who really get it, and who really know exactly what’s going on, but we’ll see how that plays out along the way, but Simon Pegg is amazing.”

The screenwriting team had also been working on an adaptation of the Dark Horse mini-series R.I.P.D. (short for “Rest In Peace Department”) for Universal for quite some time. It’s Peter Lenkov’s comedic amalgam of the police and zombie genres featuring two dead police officers whose job it is to help the dead “rest in peace,” a premise with the potential for being a strong buddy comedy set in the world of the supernatural. We asked the guys if they had a status update on that:

“David Dobkin* is the director who we’ve developed it with over the course of many years, so again, with studio movies, they often get started and then don’t go, then get started again and then don’t go, but there are all these kinds of cycles,” Hay told us. “‘R.I.P.D’ over the last two years has almost happened probably three times and just for various reasons, whether it’s the availability of cast or whether it’s budget or any of the many things, it just hasn’t launched, but we feel like is really right on the precipice and we’re really hopeful that will happen this year. It’s one of those ones that’s right there on the launching pad.”

(*Director of Wedding Crashers)

Look for more of our interview with Manfredi and Hay over on ComingSoon.net before Clash of the Titans opens on April 2.

Source: Edward Douglas