German-born director Uwe Boll is a throwback of sorts to the pioneers of traveling, self-distributed filmmaking — part storyteller, (perhaps much larger) part huckster. Whatever one thinks of him, he is certainly prolific, cranking out around three movies a year over the last half-decade. Brent Simon recently had a chance to speak with the inimitable Boll about his new film “In the Name of the King 2,” U.S. presidential politics, his passion project “Bailout,” which 2011 box office hit he can’t believe made so much money, and how his wife doesn’t like his movies. The conversation is excerpted below:
ShockYa: “In the Name of the King 2” speaks a lot of prophesy and destiny, and so I was wondering if in your off-screen personal life you feel that way as well. Were you destined to be a filmmaker?
Uwe Boll: (laughs) I don’t believe in higher spirits, let’s say it that way. But I believe in genre filmmaking, and so for me it’s fiction, separating the fiction in movies from what your own beliefs are in life.
ShockYa: What most informed the changes between the first “In the Name of the King,” from 2007, and this follow-up? Dolph Lundgren (who stars in this film) mentioned that he hadn’t done a fantasy film in quite a while, and so that was part of the appeal for him, but how many different stories for a sequel did you kick around, and was there ever maybe a possibility of bringing people back from the first movie and making a more conventional follow-up?
UB: We had six or seven different treatments, and the same number of writers interested in pitching different projects, and we also had to be realistic about the budget. It was clear that since we did the first one, Jason Statham was now like $7 million per movie, and for us it was not possible any more to hire him. So I felt like it would be good to move forward, and think about something new, like 50 or 60 years [after] the first part. (Writer) Michael Nachoff came up with the time traveler idea, which was kind of in a way cute. I thought that could bring a different dimension to the movie. If you have a guy that lives now and has to go back in time, then he will be confronted with what we are not used to — like, there are no toilets or showers. So you think about how you would react to a situation like this. He has to adjust to this. And Dolph is a very dry-humor kind of guy, so for him I think the kicker and why he wanted to play the character was because he could be a contemporary guy — with swearing and talking like a guy talks today, and no Shakespearean acting required from him. So we developed that treatment into a script because I felt it was the best way to go.
ShockYa: When I last spoke with you, you mentioned that on production of this movie there was a big explosion from a gentleman refilling some gas heaters, and this in turn had spawned an insurance settlement case. Is that all done and settled now?
UB: Yeah, settled it is, but for example my car is still not repaired. (laughs) It was in the middle of the explosion and consumed by a fireball. And, uh, the insurance company still hasn’t given the green light to go and repair my car a year later, which is completely absurd. But I’m still driving. But I don’t have anything on my display anymore, I cannot see. I don’t know how fast I drive or whatever, but I don’t care. It was the last shooting day, which was December 22, and Dolph wanted to be at home for Christmas. He had to fly out from Vancouver the next day to meet his family in Spain, so it was clear we had to finish the movie on December 22, and if we didn’t we would have Christmas and overtime and wrapping out the movie would be more problematic and everything. So it was lunchtime when the explosion happened, and for over two-and-a-half hours the police and fire trucks and ambulances were there. There were like eight people who got hurt, who are all good now. We couldn’t shoot, and so at one point I said, “Look, if it’s an investigation or whatever, I don’t care — we have to finish the movie.” So we finished, but in a way we were lucky, because nobody really got badly wounded. I’m happy that everybody in the end totally recovered.
ShockYa: And you just still haven’t gotten a new car?
UB: No. (laughs ashamedly) I have two dogs and my car is always dirty from the dogs also, so I think it’s a waste of money anyway to buy a new car. I’m an easygoing guy in this way.
ShockYa: On this movie’s audio commentary track you talk quite a bit about your dogs, actually, and how they fly around with you and stay on sets. But it occurs to me that for a guy as out there, and who does as much press as you, the rest of your personal life is much less discussed.
UB: Yeah, I have a kid and am married. My wife is the opposite, so she has a nice BMW, which is totally clean. She cannot drive in my car. She says it is very stinky. But for example I love to shoot movies like this, outdoors, because then my dogs can run around all day and I don’t have to look out for them, as compared to when you shoot in a studio and it’s tougher with dogs on a set. I like adventure movies like this, or being somewhere in nature when no car traffic is.
ShockYa: Does your wife travel with you, too? And what does she think about your career?
UB: No, she hates most of my movies. So she’s not going to the set. But that’s also better, in a way, because then I’m very focused on just making the movie. If you make a movie you don’t have a 9-to-5 job. So when I’m at home, like right now, I have a lot of time for the family, but when I shoot a movie I want to be left alone. It’s like, “Let me do my job.” And then when you have 15-hour days, it’s kind of better to make a holiday from family life. For some people maybe they need somebody to be working with them, but for me the distance between the private life and doing all of this helps me also, because I’m so much, as a director and a producer, in the fire basically. I have to fight for my movies and sell the movies around the world. It’s not done with only making the movies. I have to sell them, and I need a lot of energy to do that. So for me, I don’t want to that negativity to affect my private life — when I get, for example, too wound up with critics, I don’t want to carry that into the living room, basically.
ShockYa: So do you make your wife watch your films?
UB: She watched a few. She really liked the Darfur movie, about the genocide, which was much like “Hotel Rwanda.” But she doesn’t like genre movies, that is out of her interest range. And those are basically 90 percent of my movies. She likes movies like “The Help.” (laughs) We watched that together on pay-per-view a couple days ago and I was like, “How can that movie have made so much money?! This is like a Hallmark movie!” But it has a big impact to the women.
ShockYa: So for date night do you just have to submit to her wishes?
UB: I like comedies, so that we can settle on — like “Hangover II” or whatever.
ShockYa: You have another film on the horizon, “Blubberella,” in which you cameo as Hitler, is that right?
UB: Yeah, “Blubberella” is basically like a parody of the “BloodRayne” movies and all this stuff. I think it’s out on pay-per-view and then in January it comes out on DVD. I say that it’s super-trashy, so if you like trashy humor then you will maybe have a blast. It’s better if you get drunk before you watch it. It’s ridiculous. But I think I said on the commentary that there are 45 minutes that are absolutely funny and hilarious, and maybe 45 minutes that are completely insulting to filmmaking. (giggles) So you have to figure out what are your 45 minutes.
ShockYa: And I know “Bailout” is a big passion project for you. What’s the status on that?
UB: Yes, “Bailout” is about the financial crisis, and is like “Falling Down” or “Taxi Driver,” a very hard and gritty style. I’m working on getting the lead actor right now, which has to be a star. We’re not doing this movie with a medium guy, so it will be like a multi-million dollar actor basically, or I don’t do the movie. We have some financial backing for it already, and I think the subject matter is maybe the most important subject matter on Earth. It will be the main thing in the U.S. presidential campaign next year, and I think a lot of Americans — you see the #OccupyWallStreet movement of whatever — just don’t see themselves represented. Half of the people don’t go to elections anymore, and I think there’s a reason for it. It’s the same in Germany, by the way. People don’t feel that politics are representing their interests anymore, from [any] party. I know a lot of people who are Republicans in the U.S. and they say that they cannot elect the Republican candidate because it’s too ridiculous, who is running in that party and wants to be president. So intelligent Republicans cannot vote for, like, these unbelievable retards. I think that a gritty movie about the bailout makes sense to make — where a guy strikes back and says, “OK, I’m bankrupt, and my wife and house is gone, but now you will fall because I will shoot you.” I’m looking forward to doing that movie, because I think a lot of people will talk about it. And probably some people will be getting scared if that movie gets done.
NOTE: “In the Name of the King 2: Two Worlds” comes to Blu-ray and DVD on December 27.
Written by: Brent Simon