SHH! Elektra Set Visit – Part 3!

Some time later we were ushered into a tent for the Q&A session. The cast and crew were delayed so that they could complete shooting at the location, so we had more time to sit and wait. The backdrop for the Q&A was a large photo of a nice executive boardroom. We were told this was the conference room for The Hand. (Nice to see that the ninjas can afford office space!) Eventually Rob Bowman, Gary Foster, and Goran Visnjic arrived. Stamp and Garner arrived a short time later. At this point I realized what a rookie reporter I was – I had forgotten to bring a tape recorder. I had never needed one on a set visit in the past and I didn’t think I would need one for this visit. I was wrong. As the rest of the geek press put their recorders into position on the tables, I whipped out a piece of scrap paper and a pen. Lame, yes, but the best I could do. Because of that, I don’t have many direct quotes, but I’ll give you the highlights of what was said.

Gary Foster – Producer

Gary said that he and Avi Arad always intended for there to be Daredevil and Elektra stand alone movies. It was in the plans from the beginning.

Addressing the magic that appears in the film, Foster said that Elektra is still consistent with the tone of Daredevil. The film is very grounded in the real world, not fantasy. It’s more of a “heightened real world”.

Will there be a Daredevil 2? They thought about it, but decided to focus on Elektra for now.

Rob Bowman – Director

In preparing for the film, Bowman said that he read the screenplay first, then went back and did research on everything relating to the character. He read everything from the comics to the original Greek mythology of Elektra. (Bowman even mentioned that he was a big Batman fan.) But the appeal of this story for him was the internal struggle of Elektra and her personal story. What’s going on inside her?

Obviously this film has more magic than was shown in Daredevil, and Bowman addressed that fact. He described it as “black magic” that was more under the surface. And rather than making the film “too comic book”, he felt that it made the movie more like a comic book. He feels that moviegoers go into films looking for something spectacular and unusual, and the exotic, dangerous villains in the film deliver just that. The magic echoes the comic genre and it ends up balancing just fine.

As for the soundtrack, Bowman had been given a stack of demo CDs that he was listening to. He said that as he listened to the songs, he was looking for the “soul of the movie”. He was looking for the sound that “wakes up” Elektra’s soul. Bowman said he had been playing the music constantly and he had no interest in just plopping rock and roll songs randomly in the movie. He had been listening to 10 CDs so far and he had still not found what he was looking for. He did reveal that they will use Evanesence and that they will be doing an original piece for Elektra. (This deal is apparently still in the works.)

When describing Elektra, he said that she was a person who could not sit idly. She starts dwelling on what upsets her. She also has abilities and feelings that she’s unaware of. Stick recognizes those abilities within her and develops them.

Bowman was asked if he had worked with Mark Steven Johnson on the film, and he replied that he hadn’t much. He also said “not enough”, thus expressing a desire to get more info from him.

When asked if Daredevil would be in the movie, he wouldn’t tell. However, earlier it had been mentioned on the side that there would be a passing reference to Matt Murdoch in the film. Colin Farrell had also offered to do a cameo as Bullseye if the part was right. They mentioned this film was set years after the first Daredevil film.

In this otherwise dark movie, Bowman did mention that there were moments of levity added. For example, in the film Elektra has nightmares about the people she has killed. In one scene, one of her victims appears at the foot of her bed at night. Rather than play it horrified or scared, Garner played it with lightness and made Elektra seem more annoyed than anything.

When asked which Elektra stories stand out most to Bowman, he replied that the ones with Stick did. To him, most of the others were more about body count. He also mentioned that the character of McCabe was based on John Garrett from Elektra: Assassin.

Terence Stamp – Stick

Terrence came in a little later than the others, but he was quickly bombarded with questions. When asked why he agreed to be in Elektra, he revealed that he initially didn’t want to do it. Rob Bowman actually had to beg him to take the part. So what made him change his mind? He said that in the past he most regretted passing on films for the wrong reasons. Those reasons included fear of the project, that he might not do a good job, or that he was too old. Those were his fears in joining Elektra, so he ignored them and came on board.

Stamp said that he was familiar with some martial arts (tai chi), but that the role of Stick was a challenge because the character is blind. He said that when he was training for the fight scenes, he was initially doing everything with his eyes closed. However, that was deemed to look too silly and it was dropped. When asked if he has hit anybody with the bo yet, he said he hadn’t. “So far, so good.”

When asked the bizarre question of what superpower he’d most like to have, Stamp jokingly replied, “Zod’s X-Ray Vision.” His guest appearance on Smallville as the voice of Superman’s father was also mentioned. Stamp said he enjoyed it and that the creators went out of their way to accommodate him, otherwise the TV shooting schedule would be too difficult for him. He said that he offered to do the voice like Marlon Brando, but they said his own voice was fine. It ended up being a real treat for him (and even his doorman at his apartment complimented him on it).

Interestingly, Stamp insisted on one addition to his character’s costume – the hat. While the creators initially didn’t want it, Stamp insisted that his character would wear the beige cap that is a notable part of his costume.

Goran Visnjic – Mark Millar

Goran revealed that he is not only a fan of comic movies, but that he is a sci-fi fan. He loves mythology and the Stargate TV series. He said that he was raised on more European comics like Asterix and Obelisk.

He also mentioned that he had to audition for the part in Elektra. It wasn’t simply given to him. Goran said that the main draw of his character is that he is simply protecting his daughter and that it’s his only duty. If getting Elektra on his side helps protect her, that’s what he’ll do. In the end, he’s key in helping turn Elektra back to the good side. Rob Bowman described Mark as an “everyday guy in extraordinary circumstances”.

Speaking of Jennifer Garner, Goran said that she was easy to spend time with on the set. However, it’s difficult in the fact that he’s the only one without superpowers. Every time he’s attacked by wolves or magic, Elektra has to help him out. The extent of his stunt scenes consisted of him picking up everything not tied to the floor and throwing it at the bad guys.

Jennifer Garner – Elektra Natchios

Jennifer Garner arrived last at the Q&A. She was very apologetic for her lateness and quickly jumped into the middle of things. Garner again impressed me with her enthusiasm, humor, and politeness. She even tried to help the other reporters with their tape recorders when they would pop and stop. She’s definitely a pro at dealing with the press.

Jennifer said that she didn’t need to do much to get physically ready for Elektra. She was already strong before the movie. She stayed in shape and mainly did exercises to regain her flexibility with the trainer she used on Alias and Daredevil. However, the new challenge was in learning new weapons for the film. This included the bo stick which she loves training with. In one scene in the film, she has a stick fight with five ninjas. In practicing for this scene, she said it felt like doing a 3 minute sprint uphill. She has been training so hard for the scene that she has asked that filming of it be postponed till later in the shoot so she can perfect it. Jennifer will return with the sais from Daredevil and she’s also been working on her punches. She has always had strong kicks, but weak punches. In fact, on her first day of filming she shot a fight scene. “I keep waiting for the man to rescue me, and he did today.” She then looks over at Terence Stamp and smiles, referring to the scene with Stick we saw filmed earlier that day.

Another tough scene features Elektra in battle with Stone. In the film, Stone throws a weapon at a tree and breaks it. As the tree falls over, Elektra runs up it and makes it land on Stone’s head. For the shot, an 80 ft artificial tree was built on hydraulics. For days on end Garner tried to run up the tree. It was difficult, but she finally got the shot. They preferred to do it live action over CGI.

Jennifer acknowledges that Elektra is a dark character. In the last film, her character was on the verge of being lethal, but she was surprised to find that she was actually vulnerable. However, with her father gone, everything changes. After she’s kicked out by Stick, she becomes an assassin. She doesn’t care about who you are or what you do. She uses that attitude to isolate herself and survive. She’s left with no sensei and no Matt Murdoch. It’s about her not being able to find redemption. What changes her is finding a younger version of herself in Abby. Mark reminds her of her father, but Matt Murdoch is still the love of her life.

One of her favorite scenes from the comics (which was also in the film) was in Stick’s camp. In the scene, Elektra (bald in the comic, not in the movie) has been training with Stick and has become more confident in her abilities. One day she comes up to Stick with a smile on her face ready for a task and he tells her to leave. She’s unaware of the fact that he sees evil in her. It ends up being a huge change in her character. Jennifer mentions that she has also been reading other Elektra comics and that one of the big ones was the Elektra and Wolverine team up. This story was the inspiration for Abby and her father and the biggest influence on the Elektra script.

Jennifer said that it’s scary to be the lead character and that she doesn’t have a “big red devil” to hide behind this time around. When asked how making a movie compares to filming a TV series, she said that both she and Goran refer to their TV series as “work”. The movies seem to be the fun.

She also noted that the biggest gripe fans had about Elektra in the first film was the fact that she didn’t wear her trademark red outfit. She knows it’s important to fans, but they didn’t know how to do the costume for Elektra exactly like in the comic. After all, it not only has to look good, but she has to fight in it. The costume as it is in the comics wouldn’t even allow for a G-string. To this, Jennifer noted, “I’m sorry, but I’m a comic book hero that wears panties.” This of course got a good laugh from the geek press. Fortunately, the version they finally came up with still resembles the comic version. Jennifer noted that it features a little bit of femininity in the costume with a hint of the hidden side of her.

Garner has nothing but praise for her co-stars. 13-year-old Kirsten Prout who plays Abby Miller amazes her. Prout apparently has been training hard and does a lot of her own stunts in the film. Garner says, “She’s an athlete, that little booger!” When Garner was asked what superpower she would most like to have, she replied “Metabolism”.

Finally, the subject of Elektra’s kiss with Typhoid Mary came up. Garner loves the role of Mary and how everything dies around her. Garner jokes that she must have evil breath. She mentioned that this was the “first time I ever kissed a girl”. She said it was, “Just a kiss. No problem.” However, this was the only co-star she kissed that she had to make sure the lipstick was straight on first. It was “a welcome change”.

To be concluded…

Source: Scott Chitwood