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Friday, June 13, 2008

Exclusive: Gale Anne Hurd Talks Hulk, NO CAPTAIN AMERICA and The Punisher!

Gale Anne Hurd is perhaps one of the hottest movie producers in recent years. As a woman in male dominated Hollywood, she's has had to put up with a ton of crap and the little lady is a lot tougher than she looks. Hurd was the powerful force behind the early blockbusters of James Cameron as well as the Michael Bay sci-fi hit 'Armageddon'. Her latest venture is 'The Incredible Hulk' which she describes as more of a "reboot" than a remake of Ang Lee's 2003 "The Hulk" which she also produced.

In a candid interview for the film, she spoke with us about the challenges of revitalizing the series and the decisions involving bringing aboard fresh blood like actor Edward Norton and director Louis Letterier. She also discusses the many Marvel comics characters tied into the Hulk story and provides some insight as to when we'll see the first trailer for her next Marvel production, 'The Punisher: War Zone'.

The hottest news is that on the eve of The Incredible Hulk's release, fans are in a frenzy over rumors regarding a cameo appearance by Captain America. Despite Leterrier's statements that Cap was cut from an artic sequence, Hurd personally told us he was never in the film.

"He didn't really mean the character of Captain America, unless there's something that I don't know...Captain America was not visible in that scene."

Who are you gonna believe, the director of the film or the big boss herself?

Read on to learn more:

LatinoReview: With all do respect to Ang Lee's film why do a remake only five years later?

Hurd: Well, I don't think it's a remake in the sense that it's not an origin story. It carries on with Bruce Banner already as The Hulk. I think that might be splitting hairs, but at the same time what we found was that audiences love this character and they were very vocal in what they liked about the first film and what they wanted more of in the film and we've taken that to heart.

LatinoReview: Was it a challenge to come up with a story that fans would appreciate?

Hurd: The great thing is that with so many years and with such a broad range of stories in Marvel's 'Hulk' universe there were so many to choose from. So, yeah. I think the biggest thing was trying to whittle it down to a particular story from both the comic book as well as what people loved from the television series.

LatinoReview: Why do you think Edward Norton was the best candidate to choose instead of going back to, say, Eric Bana?
Hurd: Well, the first thing was that Eric Bana was already committed and was making 'Time Traveler's Wife' and so that wasn't a possibility. So, if you think about the film as also being equally inspired by the television series, who captures the sense that Bill Bixby did so beautifully. You've got someone who's playing a scientist and so you want someone who's intelligent, but at the same time is capable of demonstrating this sense of duality that's at the core of the character, the fear of The Hulk coming out, the conflict of, 'Do I try to cure myself? What do I do?' And Edward Norton's roles in 'Fight Club' and 'Primal Fear' really convinced us that no one could do it better than him.

LatinoReview: And your choice of Louis Letterier, what was the process of getting him onboard?

Hurd: Well, during the process we found that one thing that was so important to the fans was to embrace two key components of The Hulk. One of those was The Hulk as a heroic character and secondly a great action film and Louis work in 'The Transporter' films and 'Unleashed' which in Europe was released as 'Danny the Dog' showed that he could make inventive action films. But what was so surprising in those films is how wonderful those characters are, whether that's Jet Li or Jason Statham, but also Morgan Freeman and Bob Hoskins. So it was the perfect combination of an action sensibility, but someone who's equally at home with very strong actors.

LatinoReview: 'The Hulk' on the web is already receiving a lot of positive buzz. Were you guys worried that it wouldn't?

Hurd: I'd be lying if I said I wasn't concerned because we felt that we didn't start neutral [laughs]. We started in negative territory and we really had to deliver not only a good film, but a film that exceeded people's expectations because a lot of people wondered why we should do it again, that maybe this was a character that shouldn't be seen on the big screen and that maybe there was a reason why it didn't work the first time.

LatinoReview: I really liked Tim Roth's character.

Hurd: Right. Emil Blonsky.

LatinoReview: Again, how did you go about getting Tim aboard? Was he a fan of the comic?

Hurd: Well, it's funny because we have such an international group here. Tim as it turns out has boys and they're big fans of comic books and they were the ones who encouraged him to do the movie and Tim is a real family guy. He's very dedicated and he knew that this film was going to be a long shoot, taking him away from his family and he gave his kids the veto power. They said, 'No, dad. You have to be The Abomination.' He showed the film to them while he was at the screening on Sunday and they loved it and so he's a very happy dad now.

LatinoReview: Will we see Blonsky coming back?
Hurd: He hasn't exactly expired at the end of the movie. There's that possibility, but we have an embarrassment of riches there because…well, I guess this would be a spoiler. We also have another character who could return in another movie.

LatinoReview: Can you talk about why Edward Norton's name was left off the writing credits?

Hurd: That was a Writer's Guild decision and not ours.

LatinoReview: With Marvel's announcement that 'The Avengers' will come out in 2011 how soon do you go back for a sequel to 'The Incredible Hulk'?

Hurd:
The first thing we want to do is make sure that the fans are as enthusiastic about this film as we hope that they will be. They're going to speak very soon. They're going to be speaking in forty eight hours.

LatinoReview: So why include Tony Stark in this film?

Hurd:
Well, it's the Marvel Universe and there is the ability to cross pollinate like they do in the comic books. You can have Hulk and Spider-Man. You can have Hulk and Iron Man which wasn't a possibility when all of the different characters were controlled by different studios. The studios want to keep their franchises separate.

LatinoReview: It's been assumed that parts of the film dealing with Banner's emotions were left out to give the film more action. Is that true or false?

Hurd: Well, the film already had a lot of action. I think it's always a question of what the best version of the story we want to tell is. I think you really get who Banner is in the film. Edward's performance is tremendous and we found that there were times in the film when you really wanted to start accelerating with his quest for a cure and instead the movie was putting on the breaks. So it's always a question that in editing you find and you find that there's a movie in there and the entire process is actually uncovering that movie, uncovering the best version of the film. I certainly feel that the performances are all top notch across the board.

LatinoReview: What was Louis talking about when he said Captain America was in the film?

Hurd: He didn't really mean the character of Captain America, unless there's something that I don't know. It's the serum.

LatinoReview: I felt that there was a presence around the film of Captain America, and not that you actually see him.

Hurd: Exactly.

LatinoReview: Is Captain America in the frozen tundra? Cause on the trailer we see Banner walking on the tundra and I wanted to know if Captain America was in that scene or not?
Hurd: Captain America was not visible in that scene.

LatinoReview: There was a lot of talk because you do see the Captain America shield in 'Iron Man'

Hurd: Right. Well we do have the serum. If you look at the movie again you'll see that the serum is Captain America.

LatinoReview: There's also 'The Punisher'. What will Ray Stevenson bring to this version of The Punisher that wasn't in the previous films?

Hurd:
I think that what Ray has, first of all he's more the age of the character from the comic books. He really looks to me like he's stepped off of a Tim Bradstreet cover, and in fact Tim Bradstreet, there are going to be some posters soon that he's done which you'll see. But also Ray Stevenson, especially from his work as Titus Pullo in 'Rome', I really got the sense that 'Rome' was a warm-up for him to bring all of that to 'The Punisher'.

LatinoReview: Why hasn't there been anything released for 'The Punisher' aside from the teaser poster? When will there be a trailer for the film?


Hurd: The teaser will be out within the next three weeks. We're still in post-production on the film and it doesn't come out until December. I think that's actually the perfect timing, to have a teaser coming out at the end of June, beginning of July for a movie coming out in December. You don't want to be too early with your materials. With 'Hulk' the first teaser trailer didn't come out until March.

LatinoReview: Is this the rated R 'Punisher' that fans have been waiting for?

Hurd: It is a very hard R movie. Yes.

LatinoReview: Since it's a part of the Marvel Universe will there be tie-in cameos with other heroes or is The Punisher being kept separate?

Hurd: Well, 'The Punisher' is for Lionsgate and so it's separate entity.
LatinoReview: Any sequels planned for that?

Hurd: We take it one step at a time.

LatinoReview: What other superheroes would you like to see on the big screen?

Hurd: Well, you know what, I'm really looking forward to 'Thor'.

LatinoReview: How is it coming along?

Hurd: It's not my project, but I know that they have a script that's going to be turned in soon, but I'm really looking forward to seeing that on the big screen.

LatinoReview: It was just announced that you were doing 'Boston Strangler'.

Hurd: Well, now that I'm coming up for air on this one and we're going to be locking picture on 'Punisher: War Zone' shortly I'm looking forward to that. I actually have a meeting in two weeks to get started conceptualizing that film and going into production.

LatinoReview: So, now I can tell my kids not to worry about not seeing Captain America in The Incredible Hulk.

Hurd:
No. They didn't miss anything. He wasn't in the frozen tundra.

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