By Leah Zak | The Playlist March 25, 2011 at 5:48AM
Jena Malone Surprised WB Greenlit The Risky Film, Oscar Isaac Gives Details On Working With 'Mad Genius" Nichols Winding Refn
Zach Snyder's long gestating, high-concept, ladies-led fantasy project "Sucker Punch" -- one not based on any kind of pre-existing franchise or comic book, but very genre-blending -- has been reported on, speculated about and anticipated for ages, so now that it's finally arriving in theaters this weekend, we'll be curious to see if that interest translates at the box office. Will it turn into "Kick Ass," a beloved genre film that was ignored by mainstream audiences? Or will it turn out like "Watchmen," perhaps not the most successful comic-book adaptation of all time given its budget and the legalities surrounding it (a $107 million dollar domestic gross plus $185 million worldwide off a $130 million dollar budget, minus marketing and a very expensive lawsuit to boot which saw WB handing profit from the film over to Fox) but still, with DVD revenue, nothing to be ashamed of either.
Early word from reviews that began rolling out yesterday (including ours) was not overwhelmingly positive, but it remains to be seen what audiences will think of the film this weekend.
Leading up to the big day we've been rolling out coverage of our chats with the filmmakers and stars over the past week, but there remain a few highlights and revelations made by the cast and Snyder such as the female leads' thoughts on the gender politics in the film; the intense, but rewarding and bonding physical training they partook in; some new films the cast may or may not be working on and the concept of making a genderless action film with multi-dimensional characters. After the jump, a few things about "Sucker Punch" you might like to know. Be forewarned, there are minor little spoilers throughout and we'll tag those answers with a **** so you can avoid them if you like.
Emily Browning Bristles At The Suggestion That "Sucker Punch" Is A Male Film Only With Ladies As The Leads
"Putting [this film] into categories of gender seems a little outdated," she explained. "I hope that the idea of an action film can, hopefully in the future, change and this can start the idea of it being normal for girls to do an action film. I'm of the opinion that females can be as strong and interesting as males."
Jena Malone Is Happy To Bring A Multi-Dimensional Female Action Hero To The Screen
"In the action genre, female characters [generally are one of] two extremes," she explained. "The damsel in distress or the sexy bombshell, and those are very one dimensional characters and I think that’s way more of an exploitation because you’re not showing the true reality of what a woman can be. These are multidimensional characters, we’re exploring fears, and we’re exploring vulnerability and we’re exploring strength and confidence and how it operates on different levels in your mind... I think that’s actually what Zach is giving to the action genre is a newly empowered female like you’ve never seen before which is super exciting."
Abbie Cornish Doesn't Feel Objectified By "Sucker Punch" ***
"I disagree [with the suggestion] that there's anything innately sexist about the film itself," she stressed. "I think it's pretty clear in the opening montage what the step-father is about to do to Baby Doll (Emily Browning's character) and her little sister. In my opinion there's been some level of sexual abuse for Baby Doll and that's why in my mind, when she goes into a dark place of the asylum. Her mind takes her to another level of a dark place and for the scariest, most terrifying place she could possibly be is within a brothel where her sexuality is exploited. I think the female characters in the film are objectified within the brothel, but I don't think we are personally being objectified in the film."
The Polish Origins Of Madam/Dr. Gorski Were Found By Carla Gugino Herself
"Basically we were just kind of searching for her voice. We just had a creative conversation about it and that really, for a lot of different reasons, seemed to be something that felt right to me and so I just asked Zach if we could try it at a table reading and see how it sounded and felt to him. [After the reading] he said "I think we're really on the right track here, so let's go down that road" and we found a Polish name for her. But the Eastern European, kind of English as a second language aspect of her character became very important for me."
The Japanese Influence In Style And Design Was, According To Snyder, Very Conscious, And Browning Particularly Appreciated The Influence For Her Costume
"When I first put the costume on, I did, like the opening of 'Sailor Moon,' that was my favorite cartoon as a kid. 'Sailor Moon' was my favorite cartoon of all time. I still have it on DVD and I watch it at home all the time."
Remember The Long-Gestating Teenage Lesbian Werewolf Film 'Jack And Diane' That Seemed To Change Cast Members Like Underwear, But Felt Like It Was Never Getting Made? It's Done.
And no, it's not based at all on John Mellencamp's titular song (unless that's about teenage lesbian werewolves and we missed it). In case you forget who's in it, co-star Jena Malone reminds us about all the talent involved. "It's [directed by] a really interesting filmmaker Bradley Rust Gray ["The Exploding Girl"], Juno Temple and Riley Keough play Jack and Diane, and it's a beautiful teenage love story between two girls," she said conveniently leaving out the fact that the girls howl at the moon and what not.
You're Not The Only One That's Surprised That A Major Studio Greenlit This Risky & Audacious Film
"What was Warner Bros.thinking?! Thank god they were!" exclaimed Jena Malone. "It's kind of incredible to be able to have five young women that are not traditional big budget action star heroes. [It's an] amazing risk and I love when big studios take risks -- it's pretty rare -- so maybe the temperature is changing."
While Training For The Film, Malone And Her Co-Stars Found "The Beast" Within
"[During a particularly hard day in training, Cornish] in that moment, she maybe found something and became super calm instead of freaking out....," Malone said. "[The Beast is when] you're like 'I can't do this anymore' but you calm your body and you find this burn in your belly that feeds off that pain and finds that pain is a good thing and that pain is not representative of death, but reward or some sort of goal in mind. So when we talk about The Beast, it's getting pushed so far physically that you are able to find this sort of zen that comes through, this animal that kind of craves the pain instead of fights it...I made T-shirts for these girls that says 'Find The Beast Within.'"
Zach Snyder And Cinematographer Larry Fong Have Been Collaborating On Epic Fight Sequences Since The Beginning
"We've been working [together] forever, [Larry and I] went to school together, and in my basics of film class, my first basically film class in college – where like everyone’s filming basically their cats -- you know we had to make a film a week and they’d come in and be like 'Oh look I filmed my cat." I made a WWI film in that class and in that week I dug all these trenches, I rented a back hoe and dug all these trenches and Larry shot it. And just the other day I was looking through this album and there’s this picture of Larry and I... we made it rain, I had gotten these little rain towers, so it’s like me and Larry and we have our little super camera and we made this little weather cover for them and it’s like we have our smoke machines and stuff like that.I’ve been working with him ever since, it’s a hugely awesome collaboration and I love working with him, it’s really fun."
No Stranger To The Martial Arts Scene, Cornish Was Excited To Take On The Type Of Physical Role Normally Written For Men
"Throughout my life I had done different forms of martial arts. My mum was the Australian National Karate Champion and I’d learned Capoeira in Brazil. I danced as a teenager, I grew up on a farm, I rode motor bikes, horses...I used to run a lot just out in the country with my dog, so the idea of doing this film was amazing," Cornish said. "Someone once asked me if you could play any character in a film what would it be, and the first thing that came to my mind was to play 'The Godfather.' Imagine that, that would be awesome. Of course there are so many roles that are male roles that as an actor I would love to explore, I would love to play, and then when you get a female role that explores some of those things and you get to be physical, it’ so incredible."
Carla Gugino Might Not Be A "M.I.L.F" Anytime Soon
"Unfortunatlely I don’t know what will happen with that [project]," she said, noting that the film may have fallen apart. "It’s a really cool script and I really like a lot of the people involved in it but that was an announcement that was made way too early, unfortunately as these things happen, if the movie can come together in the right way, then perhaps but no, I don’t know when we’ll be doing that."
Oscar Issac, Who Plays The Evil Psycho Ward Administrator In "Sucker Punch," Also Stars In Nicolas Winding Refn's "Drive" with Ryan Gosling And Calls The Danish Director A Mad Genius.
"He's super nutty. [An] incredible, incredible director," Issac said of the filmmaker he both admired and thought was extremely eccentric. "He sort of looks like Beaker from the Muppets. He has this really funny voice, he speaks from the back of his throat a little, and he wears all Puma and a blanket around his midsection even if it's like 100 degress outside. [Affecting a fey Scandinavian accent] 'Because it keeps my energy in here. This is where my energy comes from. It's the furnace!' He's so funny and a real artist, you don't see them like that anymore. And he's not afraid to take as much time as he needs to work on a scene to get it right, no matter how many producers are ready to jump out the window cause time is running out. As a creative process it was fantastic."
"Sucker Punch" hits theaters today, Friday, March 25.