David Gordon Green Talks His Musical Dream Project, Reveals Script Remake Of 'Ice Station Zebra'

by Edward Davis
April 5, 2011 8:40 AM
10 Comments
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Director Wants To Make A Musical About Rival Musical Families In Branson, Missouri



David Gordon Green's early career is a wet dream for up-and-coming, aspiring filmmakers. Lyrical, poetic and still loose and beautiful in its form, most filmmakers would kill to have something as good as his debut film "George Washington" (which is part of the Criterion Collection) in their oeuvre. 2003's "All the Real Girls" continued in this vein, but injected a sense of subtle comedy (which we would see later) and indie quirk thanks to strong performances by Zooey Deschanel, Paul Schneider, Danny McBride (in his debut) and Patricia Clarkson.

His career and style was being closely watched and Terrence Malick himself brought Green the story of "Undertow," which he turned into a feature in 2004 with the "Days of Heaven" director on board as a hands-on producer (none of that exec producer nonsense). Still, despite the accolades, the indie films didn't exactly pay the bills, so during his early years Green supplemented himself by taking on work-for-hire gigs. Some of them were just writing assignments -- John Grisham's "Innocent Man" was an adaptation he penned for Warner Independent, remember them? -- and some were assignments given to him by other estimable auteurs. Sidney Pollack hired him to pen the '70s coming-of-age tale, "Shockproof Sydney Skate," and he almost directed "A Confederacy of Dunces" for producer Steven Soderbergh (many, many more Green projects that never came to be are documented and broken down here).

So the take away here is Green isn't afraid to tackle a writing assignment if it gets the creative juices flowing, gives him new experiences and an opportunity to see the world. The director is a guy who is constantly on the go. "Yeah, tell that to my girlfriend," he said in a recent interview with The Playlist. "I don’t come up for air much but I’m having fun while the opportunities are here and people are giving me this passport to go check into a fancy hotel and get room service, come on."

With Green's Rough House Pictures, co-founded with buddies McBride and director Jody Hill ("Observe & Report"), the filmmaker has a haven to develop all his homegrown ideas. But amidst his busy schedule he still has time to take on writing assignments including a new one he revealed to us: a remake of an 1968 action film directed by John Sturges and starring Rock Hudson, and beloved by filmmakers like John Carpenter, who went on to put his own spin on the arctic setting years later.

"I just finished a script for Warner Bros. that’s a remake of 'Ice Station Zebra' that’s a big military movie," he said. "And I got to go camp out on the arctic circle with the Navy and explore those kind of… you know just the lingo and the politics of what’s going on in the arctic right now so it truly is a passport. Like literally Warner Brothers says, 'Do you want to get on a jet with the Navy and get on a submarine?' and you’re like, 'absofuckinglutely!' "

Green also revealed his dream project, one he might get to make somewhere down the line. "I wanna do a movie about rival musical families in Branson, Missouri in the 1960s," he said. "I've had this idea for awhile, because hanging out in Branson is bizarre. It is a trippy, amazing place. Ozark culture really appeals to me, and it hasn't been captured in a movie. It will probably be a few years down the line, because no one really wants to make a big musical period piece. But if someone called me up and asked if I wanted to do [the 1954 Stanley Donen musical] 'Seven Brides For Seven Brothers' I'd jump to the front of the line for that."

In the meantime, Green keeps on churning out scripts and some of them are surprisingly high-concept. "I just finished an adaptation for Paramount of a graphic novel called 'Battling Boy' that Paul Pope wrote that's pretty massive. Writing something like that involves taking on the history of grand mythological movies with $150 million budgets. It's awesome." So, yeah, a little busy. The hills are alive with the sound of David Gordon Green.

Meanwhile, his latest, the absurd, ridiculous and totally entertaining "Your Highness" starring James Franco, Natalie Portman and Danny McBride opens this weekend on April 8 in wide release (check out our review here). -- Additional reporting by Gabe Toro and RP.

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More: Films, David Gordon Green, Your Highness

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10 Comments

  • The Playlist | April 6, 2011 7:07 AMReply

    @ zxcvb I will say this: I interviewed DGG a lot in the early indie days. I loved his films. And then he would tell me all these aspirations for comedies and mainstream movies, his love for the Goonies, etc. his genuine love for movies -- his eclectic taste -- and i was like, "huh." But he did it. It was his hope and his plan all along. He really wanted to broaden his horizons and try anything and everything and i remember during All The Real Girls he told me wanted the career modelled after the eclecticism of Soderbergh of Gus Van Sant.

    So yeah, at least dude basically accomplished what he set out to do, though yeah, he has done 3 comedies in a row. But he realizes that and he's likely going to do a horror next.

  • zxcvb | April 6, 2011 5:15 AMReply

    Remember when David Gordon Green was going to be, like, an artist?

  • henry P | April 6, 2011 2:39 AMReply

    "The hills are alive with the sound of David Gordon Green."
    hahaha, yes they are, my friend.

  • Isabel | April 6, 2011 2:10 AMReply

    Wow-can't believe he's getting any work after the debacle that I saw last night in NY. Your Highness will probably be a top contender at the Golden Raspberries next year. A real mess-loud, crude and really unfunny. I just kept thinking how many poor countries could have benefited from all the money they spent on this mess.

  • City Sick | April 5, 2011 11:20 AMReply

    @Oliver

    It's the tiger blood.

  • Oliver | April 5, 2011 11:15 AMReply

    @City Sick, Cocaine's a hell of a drug.

  • City Sick | April 5, 2011 10:53 AMReply

    *Dunham. My bad. Although I don't really care.

  • City Sick | April 5, 2011 9:11 AMReply

    What with the anger about Lena Durham's inclusion into Criterion's Collection, DGG is a great reminder that we do have a bright, young filmmaker who embraces and creates cinema that isn't locked into any one particular genre, aesthetic or "style" of film, unlike Durham's "I can't watch people who are 'acting'" comment from that Village Voice interview.

    His earliest interviews were straight, art-film nerd diatribes, but from someone who admittedly loved 80's action films and who believed in expanding beyond the "indie" scene (his comments on "coffee-shop" indie romances were hilarious).

    So yeah, DGG deserves all the work and the accolades.

    Also:

    Mindy Kaling/Kristen Wiig/any other female comedienne or writer > Lena Durham.

  • Stephen | April 5, 2011 9:05 AMReply

    Good stuff. This guy seems like the busiest dude in Hollywood. Never would have thought that 8 or 9 years ago.

  • hmm | April 5, 2011 8:58 AMReply

    What would happen to this website if David Gordon Greene and Edgar Wright co-directed a movie together? What if Duncan Jones wrote the screenplay? What if Michelle Williams and Joseph Gordon Levitt were attached? Would the site actually melt down and destroy the Internet?

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