"They needed to sign off on the production script, the costume, the bike, and Carrigan slash Blackout," Neveldine told us, the last comment referring to the onscreen baddie played by Johnny Whitworth. "And that was really it. They were excited about us being darker with it. They were totally in [with the aesthetic]. And then they weren't involved with us at all." Taylor adds, "Their main concern was that the first movie was pretty successful, but it didn't feel like a Marvel movie. It felt like a Disney movie. I think their concern was, let's make it a little cooler, darker, more contemporary."
And sometimes, to unleash the Academy Award winner, they would resort to some bizarre techniques in getting to the heart of Cage's onscreen alter ego, Johnny Blaze. "We thought about it as a horror film," says Neveldine. "Like these exorcism movies, Japanese movies. We rehearsed with Nic well before he stepped on set. We studied praying mantes, insects, pharoahes, African tribal dancing, and we got into [the idea of], how would the Ghost Rider move? How would this creature from Hell translate on Earth?" Giving insight into Cage's on set temperment, Neveldine adds, "Nic sometimes talks about his performance as music. He uses his body as an instrument. He likes to think about scenes in a jazz way, or a rock way." But it was clear the agenda was to give the character some sympathetic footing. "You want to have a guy that's struggling with an addiction, and struggling with his inner demon," says Neveldine, quite literally. "Nic talked about how Johnny Blaze wakes the next morning it's the worst hangover of his life. It's nice to base it in reality, because we all have these demons, we all have problems."
Of course, Cage and Hinds aren't the only familiar faces in the film. If you're paying attention at around the midway point of the film, you'll see a recreation of Pink Floyd's famous "Wish You Were Here" album cover, with a man shaking the hand of another, bursting into flames. It's an iconic image, and who else to capture the mood but Neveldine and Taylor themselves? "We were gonna actually use the Pink Floyd cover, but we couldn't get the rights," Taylor laments. As a result, the two show up recreating the famous pose on the album cover, a one-second gag sure to please rock fans. Of course, Taylor also claims that your eyes may be deceiving you, as he jokes, "That was us making the deal with Sony."
"Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" opens this Friday.