Interview with Louis Leterrier

Thanks to Warner Brothers, MovieMikes was recently able to talk with the director of the “Clash of the Titans” remake, Louis Leterrier. The interview is featured on Moviehole.net, courtesy of Clint Morris. In the interview, Louis tells us about his love for movies, Greek mythology and what he has lined up to direct next. Louis Leterrier’s career has only just begun but with the recent success of “Clash of the Titans”, we can expect to be seeing a lot more of him.

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Mike Gencarelli: You worked with kung fu choreography in your films, “Unleashed” and “The Transporter 1 & 2”, is that a difficult task?
Louis Leterrier: Yes, it’s difficult. I find it difficult when you always have to reinvent it in each movie. You have to define the fighting based on the genre period for the movie. I am trying as much as I can to do adventure films, not action, so that the story doesn’t stop when the action begins. It’s hard to tell a story when two guys are punching each other in the face. That is why my movies are more escapist films than anything else. They are about guys trying to get out of a situation, instead of punching the lights out of each other.

Mike Gencarelli: Can you explain about the story behind your directorial credit on “The Transporter” between its U.S. and European release?
Louis Leterrier: It’s funny, Corey (Yuen) deserves all the credit. Corey was supposed to direct the film but his manager booked him on two projects at the same time. Poor guy was in China doing a movie, and we were unable to push back to the start of the movie. So we were prepping the movie and I wasn’t talking to Corey during that time because he speaks Chinese and I speak English and French. I was told to prep the movie as it was my own. I was prepping the movie on my own, casting the actors, finding locations, and costumes. Except for the fights, I do not know much about martial arts. As a kid I would watch Bruce Lee movies but I can’t say I was a fan of the genre. I was very afraid of doing a kind of “white-guy martial arts” film, like Steven Seagal or Jean Claude Van Damme film. I also was involved on the rewrites with (Robert Mark) Kamen and Luc (Besson). Corey eventually showed up three weeks before we started shooting the movie, he was exhausted out of his mind. I gave him a crash course on “The Transporter” and he was falling asleep, poor guy. I told Corey it was very important for him to work on the choreography. The day prior to the shoot, he came to my room and said “I am sorry I cannot direct this movie”. I asked him “What should we do?” Corey passed the torch to me and I called “Action” and “Cut” on that first shot and until the end of the movie, I was the director. He signed the movie in America because I was a complete unknown at the time, which was fine by me. I signed the movie in France, Germany and Japan. Frankly you are not watching “The Transporter” for the great dialogue and the amazing performances; it’s more for the choreography. That is why it is more Corey than me, he deserves all the credit.

Mike Gencarelli: Do you consider yourself lucky to have that opportunity present itself?
Louis Leterrier: I consider myself the luckiest director ever. I became a director by chance. I am trying to stay in the party until someone realizes and kicks me out of the room. I am trying very hard.

MG: After the disappointing adaption of Ang Lee’s “Hulk” in 2003, did you feel any pressure when approached to direct the reboot of 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk”?
LL: With “Hulk” or “Clash”, either reboot or remakes, they are very tough. I grew up watching these movies. Before being a filmmaker, I am a moviegoer and a movie fanatic. I watch at least three movies a day. I admire Ang Lee. I admire his work and I admire his movie. When they called me and asked if I would want to do this, I said “You would destroy my career before it has even started”. Once I spoke with them and I realized it came from the right place; we decided that it wasn’t that we were trying to erase the first film; it would be another way of telling the story. Instead of doing a sequel, we decided to do something that would not offend Ang Lee’s “Hulk”. Finding Edward Norton is how I kept the cerebral part of the Hulk alive, the Pathos of the Hulk alive.

MG: What was the most challenging aspect while creating the new “Clash of the Titans”?
LL: It was remaking something that was loved by so many. I never wanted to make it better. In an ideal world I wish people wouldn’t compare the two but it is impossible. That was the biggest challenge. It was the project though that you couldn’t refuse. I have always been a big fan of Greek mythology and I always hoped to make a movie about it for most of my life. I had to do it, but I had to do it with respect to the original film. My first thing was to call Ray Harryhausen and I wanted to include him in the process.

MG: Do you know if Ray Harryhausen has had the opportunity to see the film yet?
LL: I do not think he has seen it; it’s hard to get a blessing from the original creator. We tried to meet up a few times and it never worked out. We talked a lot. We had two 2-hour conversations. I would ask him “If you had to redo “Clash of the Titans”, what would you do that you weren’t able to do 28 years ago?” That was the kind of information I was trying to get from him.

MG: Before “Clash of the Titans” is even released, Warner Brothers has announced a green light for an additional two sequels making a trilogy out of the series, how you feel?
LL: It’s not really about a sequel; there is enough material to do two sequels or two prequels. It’s Greek Mythology; you just open the books and keep going. As I was reading Greek Mythology, I realized there are many directions to take the films. The studios aren’t dumb. They want to know that if the movie is successful, as a director they want to know where it can go. They asked me to write out the overall plot with the writers. We came up with this really cool, but very mythological idea. Perseus is sort of like the Jesus Christ of Greek mythology, everything circles around him. We got really excited that if the movie is by any chance a success during the first weekend; I would absolutely love to step back into it starting that following Monday and explore all of the possibilities. Even if it is not me directing, let’s keep it going anyway. I would love to see more Greek mythology movies.

MG: Can you give us a sneak into what you have planned for the possible follow-ups to “Clash of the Titans”?
LL: If you know Greek Mythology, imagine the story of Perseus in the center and the Universe is enormous. You’ve got twelve gods, you have Titans, you have heroes. You open the pages of Greek mythology, you find endless opportunities. You’ve got great human stories with heart. You’ve got tremendous creatures. It’s frightening. It’s erotic. It’s everything great storytelling has and needs.

MG: What is your dream project, if you were given any means necessary?
LL: I like to explore new worlds. “The Avengers” would be a dream project of mine. There are so many comic books I grew up reading that I would love to do. I would have loved to do a “Tintin” movie I grew up watching and reading “Tintin”. Ideally, as a moviegoer, I like to create new universes, a new mythology or designs. The things that we see in comic books that haven’t been made. That is the kind of stuff that really gets me excited.

MG: You seemed to have mastered the action adventure film genre, what’s next for you to conquer?
LL: I don’t think I mastered it, but I feel pretty confident. One thing I haven’t had is the possibility to do a very human story; something that doesn’t have a car chase, fighting or monsters. I am actually a funny guy (laughs), I would love to do a comedy. I do not think I am ready for drama, I am shy about my feelings, I am not sure I would be able to express other people’s feelings. I think I would maybe down the line. Hitchcock said “When in Switzerland, use chocolate”. In your life, use the stuff that you feel comfortable with. Right now in my life, I am 36; I want to tell stories about superheroes and monsters. When I am 55, I may want to tell something completely different, more dramatic.

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2 Replies to “Interview with Louis Leterrier”

  1. This was a good interview, thanks for posting it. Hopefully Louis could be involved in a third Titans movie somehow.

  2. Thanks for the kind words Peter! I loved Louis’ passion for the film. Too bad he got a lot of backlash for it. At least he scored this summer with “Now You See Me”.

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