A Chat With “Pathology” Creators Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor
Category: Gamer News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: August 2, 2007 | Publication: TunaFLIX | Author: Editor
As I’ve written about ad nauseum, it’s rare to find originality in Hollywood these days. Which is why it’s so refreshing to talk to guys like Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the writer/directors of the high-octane actioner Crank, and creators of the upcoming thriller Pathology.
These guys pushed the action movie (and Jason Statham) to the limits in Crank, and now they’re back to try again with Pathology, a film about a group of bright, young pathology interns who devise a dangerous game: see who can commit the perfect murder.
“Heroes” star Milo Ventimiglia, Alyssa Milano, Michael Weston (The Last Kiss, Garden State), and Lauren Lee Smith (Trick r’ Treat, Art School Confidential) make up the cast, and the award-winning Marc Schoelermann directs.
I had a chance to sit down with Mark and Brian at Comic Con, and here’s what they had to say:
TunaFlix: So was this the first time you screened footage of Pathology for an audience?
Mark Neveldine: For a big audience, yeah, for sure.
TF: Were you pleased by their reaction to it?
MN: Absolutely, oh yeah.
Brian Taylor: Of course. [both laugh]
TF: Was this your first time coming to Comic Con?
MN: No, we were here for Crank last year. We wrote and directed Crank, as you know, and we were here with Jason [Statham] and did a panel. It wasn’t as big as this; it was exciting, you know, people have such a fun time at this place. People were just flipping out about Milo [Ventimiglia] and this whole Pathology situation, so it’s nice.
TF: Now with Crank, you guys really played with the genre and format, and showed that you can be inventive in an action movie with something other than just how long your car chase scenes are. Can we expect to see something similar with Pathology?
BT: In that we’re pushing this film to the limits, and it’s truly something that you’ve never seen before. It’s not a torture horror film, it is a thriller. But yeah, the common ground between this and Crank is that this is an original movie - we’re proud to make original movies, because otherwise we’d get bored with it. So we’re hoping that Pathology is an exciting enough film that you can call it that.
TF: You had mentioned something like that during the panel discussion earlier. What do you think there is about the film that sets it apart from the typical “torture porn?”
MN: [laughs] Well, these are people that we don’t normally hang out with everyday, these are pathologists. There’s a very small percentage of people, doctors, that go into this field. And they look at life in a different way, you know?
I mean, these are people who actually embrace death, and we’re in a culture in America where people are so f—ing afraid of death, they’ll do anything to distract themselves from that. That’s why we have every iPod, TVs in our cars - any free moment we have, we’re trying to mask this great fear. And these are unbelievably strong people who actually embrace death and, therefore, might enjoy life a little more, I think.
And that’s what makes this movie different. We loved going down to the morgue and hanging out with these guys, the music they play down there, it’s like… they just have a good time. It’s not as dark and dreary as a lot of people might think.
TF: Is that something you think you can take away from the movie? Just from working on it?
MN: You can take away a lot from this movie. You might get a different perspective about life after this, which is good.
BT: I think we made a stellar film, at least we hope. Not to say that Milo’s character in the movie isn’t seduced into a very dark place.
What we wanted to do was to seduce the audience in the same way and have them take that trip with him, to the point where, when you make the turn and when you go to that dark place, to have everybody watching go “Hm, you know what? I might have that in me too. And I’m not very comfortable with it, but it is there.” If I’m going to be honest, it’s there.
And I don’t think you get that feeling from the usual slasher film. You’re just like, “Wow, hey, I get to be a slasher.” But in this, it’s more of a subtle identification, and it is about real, dark places that we think are inside everybody.
TF: Now, you guys decided not to direct this one, is there any reason for that?
MN: Several reasons. One is that we’re doing other films; we’re hired to write more films, so we figured the best way was to produce this movie, not direct it. So when we were deciding whether or not we were going to direct it, we met with a bunch of directors. And we saw Marc [Schoelermann]’s reel, and the guy is just a visual genius.
He talked to us about his approach for this movie, and it was so right on. He really understood where we were going with this, that this is not a horror film, these are real people and we want to be real honest about [the experience]. I want the audience to walk into the morgue like we did for the first time when we were doing research. And that was cool, you know? It wasn’t some stylistic place, all flashy.
We just kind of fell in love with him, to be honest. It was like, “This guy can direct the film.” And once we found him, we had the confidence actually to back off. Because we were gonna direct it [initially] but we had the confidence to take a step back, Brian and I, because we’re writers too – we’ve written so many scripts, we can’t direct them all, we don’t have the time to. We would’ve loved to direct [Pathology], but you find a guy like Marc and it makes your life a lot easier.
BT: I think also, the story and this material was so close to us, it was a project that we liked so much, that… if we hadn’t have found the right director, we just wouldn’t have made it. It wouldn’t have gotten made. So, having found a guy we trusted was the difference between the movie getting made and not.
TF: Your next film, Game, you will be directing though, right?
BT: Yup, with Gerard Butler.
TF: Could you talk a little bit about it?
BT: It’s a science-fiction movie set in the near-future. [to Mark] How much of the story can we tell?
MN: Well, it’s a guy who needs to get back to his wife and his daughter, and he needs to fight the system. It’s a movie about control, about how we’re controlled, and more and more every day. I mean, this is happening. We really tend to do a lot of research, and have a lot of truth involved in our scripts.
And this is another situation where we studied and… we’re reading about nanotechnology and we’re learning that we’ll soon all have IPs, just like computers. This is true, this is happening. The cameras are out, Big Brother is getting bigger. And we were… a little scared about where this is going, and just wanted to make an ass-kicking film [about it].
BT: Yeah, I mean, our personal space is getting more and more violated. We’re becoming more quantified, we’re becoming more controlled, more processed. And so, like in the classic tradition of ‘70s sci-fi, it’s all about an individual breaking through that. Usually with guns and ammo [laughs].
TF: That idea of control seems to be an underlying theme in your work. In Crank especially, there’s that idea of losing control to someone else, and then eventually regaining it, usually forcibly. What is it about this that intrigues you, that speaks to you?
BT: People just wanna be free man! [laughs]
MN: Yeah, I mean, really, creatively we want to be free. Brian and I are always trying to do something new. We’re always challenging ourselves to break the mold. Every day we’ve got to fight a new battle. Whether it’s with an executive, or someone trying to hold us down creatively, we’re always trying to beat that. It is some kind of weird, recurring theme in our life… but we’re winning.
TF: You’ve got kind of the full range here with the cast of Pathology, from Alyssa Milano to up-and-comers like Milo and Michael Weston. Are you pleased with how that all came together?
BT: Incredible cast. And the bottom line was we needed actors for this material, because it’s not a slasher film, it wasn’t about faces and name actors at all, and we read every single one of ‘em.
BT: I mean, the exciting moments in this movie are when Milo and Michael Weston – who plays an unbelievable character, it’s a breakout role for him – when these two guys come together, it’s sort of like the snake and the mongoose; it’s exciting cinema. It’s just great cinema, and it just wouldn’t have stood with even good actors, we needed great actors. And that was how we approached every casting decision.
TF: You mentioned this as a breakout role for Michael, but this is also a pretty big departure for Milo from his role on “Heroes.” How do you think he handled it?
MN: Oh, Milo’s been great. He was one of the first people that wanted to go down to the morgue and really get into it. I don’t know if he’s a method actor, or what his approach is, but I’ll tell ya, he researched the hell out of this movie. He probably could pass an MCAT right now with all the research he did, it was incredible. And it was important for him to break his identity from “Heroes” and to do something different. This was a fun character psychologically and he really got into it.
And Weston, I mean, the guy broke away. He created a Jake Gallo that was so frightening, and so epic. But a villain who uses his warmth to get close to you at first, it’s such a layered approach to a film. And I just haven’t seen anything like it.
BT: It’s funny, because Weston and Milo are such different personality types, and have such different working methods. They’re completely different styles of actors, and when they put that together, it’s like oil and water. I mean, we thought they were going to come to blows when we were prepping scenes and rehearsing, really. But it was so great, because it added to the tension so much.
Of course, over the course of the film, now they’ve become great friends, and they understand what the other one gives, and how they play off each other. But it really added to the dynamic tension on this movie.
TF: But no fistfights?
MN: Not off-camera.
This entry was posted on Thursday, August 2nd, 2007 at 10:45 p08