Talking to the Blade: Trinity Nightstalkers

Six years ago, Marvel Comics’ introduced Blade, a little known character that frequently appeared in their “Tomb of Dracula” comic book to a larger moviegoing audience when Wesley Snipes took on the role of the vampire hunter. The success of Blade and its sequel in 2002 paved the way for the current run of successful comic book movies, as the directors of the two “Blade” movies went onto other comic book franchises themselves.

For Blade: Trinity, the third chapter in the “trilogy,” Snipes is joined by new partners in his war against a new vampire threat, a group of human called the Nightstalkers led by Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds) and Abigail Whistler (Jessica Biel). They add a new dynamic to the Blade mythos that makes the third movie far more comical, making the perfect transition for screenwriter David Goyer to full-on director, as he takes over the reins for the third (and supposedly final) film.

Superhero Hype! talked to Goyer, Reynolds and Biel about what went into making the third movie so different from the previous two.

SHH!: We already know that David is a comics fan, but did either of you ever read comics before making this movie?

Ryan Reynolds: My brother was a huge fan actually, so he freaked out [when I got the part]. He knew everything about my character. I had a read a few of them when I was a kid, the Tomb of Dracula ones, but my brother gave me a shirt on my birthday when were shooting Blade, it had Hannibal King kicking Blade’s ass done in 1976 when I was one, so I thought was kind of a cool gift.

Jessica Biel: I never have been a comic book fan, and my character is brand new, so I didn’t have to understand the character from a comic then bring her to life.

SHH!: Can you tell us what about Ryan made you think he should be Hannibal King? Were you that big a fan of Van Wilder?

David Goyer: I love casting against type and doing things you wouldn’t expect, because I think you get more interesting performances that way. Hollywood loves to pigeonhole people and there’s nothing an actor loves more than to do something different. I knew of Ryan from various films and through acquaintances. I knew that he was very bright, very funny and very good with improv. It was more a question of whether he was committed enough to go through the training regimen and if we could credibly turn him into an action star. In the ’80s, there were a lot of muscle men who were trying to act, but I’d much rather take an actor and train them and teach them how to fight. If we could take Van Wilder and turn him into what we did, that’s definitely the way to go.

SHH!: Did it ever cross your mind to call Hannibal King something else?

Goyer: No, I always wanted Hannibal, but he was very loosely based on the character in the comics. Originally, I was going to use Frank Drake as well, but then I decided that I wanted to use a woman. In my very early outlines, it was Rachel Van Helsing, but then I heard about Van Helsing and wanted to distance myself from that as much as possible.

SHH!: How was the training and have you both kept it up after finishing the film?

Biel: It’s changed my workout routine, the way I eat and the way I live my life. I really thought I was a healthy eater before the move, but working with someone who knows what they are doing completely changed that perspective. I learned about nutrition, and it motivated to get into the gym and excerise more than I ever did before. I really liked the way my body looked when we shot this, but it’s obviously not that way anymore.

Reynolds: I certainly understand why she would wanna do that, but I was a little over it by the end. I wish I allotted that time but its just I don’t prioritize that for myself. I still go [to the gym] once in a while, because if I ever have to get it back it it’d be nice not to have to start from scratch again.

Goyer: Ryan is one of those sickening guys that sheds pounds and pounds. He can’t put on weight to save his life, so he had to put on over 20 pounds of muscle for the film.

Reynolds: Two months before shooting, my objective was to put on 25 pounds, and it was just non-stop. It wreaks so much havoc on your personal life. For me, it’s not worth it. I have better things to do than be in the gym all day.

SHH!: One has to assume you had to gain some of that weight to take on Triple H. Can you talk a bit about that fight and the comedy you brought to it?

Reynolds: I guess the humor was more out of fear. I mean the guy’s like a mountain covered in skin, but he also has got great comedic timing. It was fun getting “in the ring” with him, but we really just wanted to make that fight as raw and brutal as possible. Initially it was written that we would have sort of a kung-fu- style fight, which is consistent with these sort of movies, but we’re not kung-fu guys, so we just wanted to make it look like a brutal, ugly bar fight.

SHH!: Casting Parker Posey as the villain seemed like a strange choice. How game was she for having Ryan cut into her with all his put-downs?

Goyer: I have a list of actors I want to work with, and Parker Posey has always been one of them. I’m a huge fan of the Christopher Guest films, which is why John Michael Higgins shows up in this film as well. I just went after her, and she was game for it. The thing about Parker is that she’s a force of nature. We had so much fun shooting those two interrogation scenes, we could have filmed them forever. She loved it. You can be as nasty as you want to be with her. It was a real treat watching Ryan and Parker go back and forth, because they would lob things at each other and try to trip each other up. They’d both just run with it.

Reynolds: She was my Ginger Rogers. I never felt so happy to work with somebody in my entire life. It was all sort of like a dance just to have somebody that was able to go toe-to-toe and step-for-step every moment, and then some. She’s so much better than I am at it. You could throw as much sh*t as you want at her, and she’s just gonna throw it right back at you, but it’s gonna smell worse.

SHH!: How much did you let Ryan improvise in those scenes?

Goyer: It’s hard to figure out exactly. It wasn’t so much Ryan improvising as much as Ryan and I embellishing. What we would do was we would write half a dozen jokes for each scene, and we would just try all the various alternates.

Reynolds: I had done a few scenes with Parker already and I just thought that you gotta go in there with your A-game. I remember I sat there one night thinking what is the worst thing I could say to Parker Posey? And this character just pops off so much so I wanted to top everything as much as I could.

SHH!: Was Wesley easy to get along with and did he help you newbies get adjusted to his world?

Reynolds: There was no kidding around with Wesley Snipes. I mean, he’s Blade when he’s on that set, and I don’t think I ever met Wesley Snipes. He’s a method actor, so to do those scenes with him you only get one shot, you know?

Biel: Yeah, it was weird. He’s very intimidating anyway because he doesn’t talk to you. When someone doesn’t talk it can get very awkward but I got used to it. I don’t know if I said more than ten words to the guy.

Goyer: I thought [Ryan] would be a perfect foil. He is the polar opposite-onscreen and in real life-from Wesley. You couldn’t find two people who are more dissimilar. Really, both on screen and off, they were like oil and water.

Reynolds: Every moment that has that deliciously awkward dynamic is born of a real situation. There’s one joke in the movie where I’m saying to Jesse, “He hates me, doesn’t he?” That was not supposed to be in the movie. I just said that after David said “Cut!” It wasn’t my favorite joke, but it ended up in the movie because it was just so real. There’s also a scene that’s kind of a glory shot of the three Nightstalkers walking away after he’s thrown some guy off the ledge. It was written just like a slo-mo bad-ass shot, but I asked David if I could just give him like a dime-store psychoanalysis and ask him if he wants to sit down with someone. You don’t get a lot of takes with Wes in terms of goofing around, because he’s very serious about this role and the movie.

SHH!: And what did Wesley think of you adding so much humor to the movie?

Goyer: There was some humor in the first Blade. Wesley had script approval, so we couldn’t have moved forward without him signing off on it. He was down on the joke, and he was clearly playing the straight man in the film, but I think he does a good job of it. I’m friends with a lot of the writers for “The Simpsons,” and I had them in one day to do a little comedy punch-up. Shockingly, only three jokes came out of that session. I expected more. The script was pretty funny already. More jokes came out of Ryan and I getting drunk a bunch of nights and embellishing the script later on.

SHH!: Was it hard for you to keep a straight face with Ryan cracking all those jokes?

Biel: Yeah it was. I’m boring compared to him. It was always a challenge to keep a straight face. He would always come up with new ways to call Parker [Posey] something negative, and he would get grosser and more disgusting so it was a lot of fun.

Goyer: It’s pretty funny. There’s sort of a tipping point in the film, where he does start to steal the movie. It really catches the audience by surprise, because I don’t think anyone goes into the movie thinking that Ryan Reynolds is going to take the movie from under Wesley, but he sort of does! But that’s great! I love it when something happens that the audience doesn’t expect.

SHH!: Were there some funny outtakes that might appear on the DVD?

Goyer: Yeah, there is a blooper reel for this film, which we never had for the Blade films before. I don’t want to oversell it-it’s not the funniest thing you’ve ever seen in your life, but there are quite a few funny outtakes.

Reynolds: And there are things that should never be allowed for public consumption, because you can see how much we pushed it already. For every line there’s like six different options, things we call each other. Parker Posey and I get in a full-on slap fight like two little girls, just like ridiculous stuff, but it was a lot of fun. There are going to be lots of outtakes that were ruined because David was laughing. Those I think will be on the DVD, but I have to watch the tape to approve it all, but I’m sure I can’t imagine why I would say no.

SHH!: Have you thought at all about doing a spin-off starring just the Nightstalkers?

Goyer: We thought about it, and it just depends. The fans will tell us what they want. We don’t have a script in place or anything like that.

Reynolds: That’s something I’m signed on to do, but at this point it’s just conjecture.

Biel: I think that’s the idea. There is a scene in Blade: Trinity where we fight a new monster. (Note: It actually was edited out of the movie.) If we do a spin- off, I don’t know if we will fight those monsters, but if the fans are excited about these two new characters then it might happen.

Reynolds: When they were talking about the Nightstalkers spin-off, I felt like you could do the vampire avenue or you could do like in the comic book where they’re investigators of the paranormal. I thought it would be a great opportunity to try something in the Ghostbusters vein.

You can see the Nightstalkers in action when Blade: Trinity opens everywhere on Wednesday.

Source: Edward Douglas