EXCL: SHH! at the Ghost Rider Premiere!

With only a few more hours before Mark Steven Johnson’s Ghost Rider hits theatres nationwide, the stars of the movie gathered for the premiere at the Regal E-Walk in New York City’s Times Square. Superhero Hype! was there to ask the important questions that everyone is wondering! (No, not what Eva Mendes was wearing; sorry, but we didn’t find that out.)

Actually, Mendes, Nicolas Cage and Wes Bentley didn’t have time to talk to us, after spending so much time being grilled by people from the tabloids and people with video cameras, but we did get to talk with Superhero Hype! message board’s favorite poster Mark Steven Johnson, Avi Arad, Donal Logue and a living legend, the “Easy Rider” himself, Peter Fonda! (You can find pictures of everyone here.)

It’s been over a year and change since we first talked to Mark Steven Johnson about this movie and watched footage at the San Diego Comic-Con, so it was pretty wild for it to finally be coming out. “I know, it’s so surreal,” he told us. “We were just riding over in the car and my wife’s like ‘It’s finally happening! We can finally talk about something else then Ghost Rider!'”

We wondered whether all that time spent on the effects was something he may get a chance to use again in the future. “I’m hoping I can use it for a second Ghost Rider movie, my hope is that I can do this again,” he said. “I love Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes so much, and Peter Fonda, I want to go back and find out what happens to Johnny Blaze next. The great thing about getting a chance to do a sequel is that all the work’s out of the way. The origin story’s done, the visual effects you’ve figured it all out, now it’s just about finding out what’s the best story to tell.”

And has he figured out yet what he might want to do in a sequel? “You don’t want to jinx yourselves by thinking about it, but as tracking has come in and we’ve found out that people actually DO want to go see it, which we never knew if they would, Nic and I started to talk about what’s ahead. It’s pretty fun to think about.”

We asked Johnson if he had any preference of which era of Ghost Rider he liked. “I’m a huge fan of the Johnny Blaze ’70s, that’s why I took Johnny Blaze in the origin story, but I like the look of the Ghost Rider for the ’90s, the spikes and the chain. I like Caretaker, Blackheart, I like those villains that Howard Mackie did. I got to cherry-pick the best of both worlds.”

He also told us about the progress of his HBO series “Preacher,” based on the comics by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. “I’m just finishing the pilot right now, I haven’t turned it in yet. Garth Ennis was going to be here and he just text-messaged me that he’s sick and can’t come but I’m going to see him tomorrow.” (It was fun to get to tell Johnson the story of how “Preacher” debuted at the last Great Eastern Convention in the middle of New York City’s biggest snowstorm, stranding Ennis and Dillon there.)

“I’d like to do a greatest hits of all my favorite directors,” he said about who he’d want to helm the series. “I’ll do the pilot or my friend Howie will do it, and then if it takes off, I can go to Kevin Smith, Robert Rodriguez, and say ‘Come do an hour, put your own imprint on it.'”

This is a big year for Marvel Comics and next year’s going to be a big one for Marvel Studios, so producer Avi Arad has a lot of his plate right now. “Every year is a big year,” he told us, and when asked what they might have coming up after Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk he replied, “This is enough for now. They’re starting production in March on one and the other one in June.”

He also shared the story of how he picked Louis Leterrier to make the Hulk sequel, since he directed one of our favorite action movies Unleashed: “Actually, Louis turned me down the first time, and then I met with him again and I had laryngitis, so I pitched him the story for 40 minutes. I think he felt so bad, he really listened, but he fell in love with the project. Then we met in France, and he went home and actually did some homework and came back with storyboards and amazing art, and I knew he was hooked. We love him, he’s a great filmmaker.”

Having admired a very cool statue of Captain America at Toy Fair, we wondered how things were going on the movie that seems like it could be very timely. “It’s in writing, David Self, who is one of the greats, is writing it.” And when asked if they’d be able to find someone built like Cap, he confessed, “The challenge is to find the skinny version of him first, I’m not worried. CGI…”

Donal Logue, who plays Johnny Blaze’s mechanic Mack, already had some experience with comic book films after appearing first in Blade and then in James Robinson’s Comic Book Villains. “This one I play a non-superhero, non-supernatural just a straight-up redneck mechanic, who’s bewildered by all the stuff around him.”

The star of the ABC comedy “The Knights of Prosperity” told us about his experiences with comics. “I wasn’t really a huge comic book fan until I got older,” he admitted. “When I grew up on the Mexican border, there was not really a comic book community or places to get comic books. I was a literature fan, but when I did ‘Comic Book Villains,’ it was about being into comic books and I played a guy who owned a comic book store and really had the love for it, and I got to know a lot more about it then.”

And did he go and read any “Ghost Rider” comics before making the movie? “No, it wasn’t necessary. I’m going to wait to see the movie,” he said. “Honestly, with my character, who plays the one guy who doesn’t know what’s going on, it wouldn’t have informed it. There’s something too that always works—like with Tolkien, it’s classic—this weird good vs. evil stuff. It’s so strong and it plays so well. Sometimes, it’s dangerous the way it’s used, but I think in this case, there’s such an interesting twist on it. When the devil comes to someone and says to someone, ‘I need help.'”

Speak of the devil and up walks Peter Fonda, who plays Mephistopheles, the aforementioned devil who actually gives Johnny Blaze the powers of Ghost Rider. “How many times do you get to play Mephistopheles?” he asked in response to our question about his decision to do a big budget, action/effects movie. “Only once, unless they get to do ‘Ghost Rider 2’ and then I’ll get to do it twice. It sounded great. Nic’s a friend of me, and he and Avi thought I’d be good for the role, and they were so quick in putting my contract together, they forgot to put it in the contract that I should not ride a motorcycle. So I went and bought the fastest motorcycle you can ride and rode it all over the set and all over Australia…but not in the film, behind the camera,” he quickly corrected. “The motorcycle Nic rides is somewhat similar in the structure to the one I rode in ‘Easy Rider’ and I play for that, give it looks like ‘I know that bike’, little throwaway stuff.” (There’s a good chance we may see Fonda back on the chopper in a few weeks when he appears in Disney’s Wild Hogs though.)

“I knew the comic book, but I had no idea that I’d ever get a shot at playing Mephistopheles, which is such a wild character to play,” he told us about his own comic book experiences. “Good guys, bad guys, as long as they’re interesting characters and I’m working with interesting people, it’s fun.” Fortunately, Fonda has a bunch of other films coming up in the next year, including the James Mangold Western 3:10 to Yuma with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale.

Ghost Rider opens today, February 16.

Source: Edward Douglas