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Interview with "Underworld" Director, Len Wiseman


Underworld Kate Beckinsale

Kate Beckinsale in a scene from "Underworld."

Screen Gems
Len Wiseman makes his feature film directorial debut with the action thriller, “Underworld.” In the years preceding “Underworld,” Wiseman gained experience directing commercials and music videos. With a few awards for art direction under his belt, directing “Underworld” was the next logical step to take.

The vampire versus werewolf idea that’s the basis for “Underworld” sprang from the desire to take the horror and action genres and do something fresh. “I got together with a friend of mine, Kevin [Grevioux], and we started just hashing out these ideas of what could we do that was new. We didn’t want to do just another local sheriff in a small town goes out in the woods [and] finds these killings. We wanted something to feel different. We were just really deciding what it would be if we took it out of that realm and we actually gave the werewolves an equal enemy. Who could battle against werewolves? Is it a good guy who becomes a werewolf? That just went into [the idea that] vampires would be able to battle them. They’d be on equal training grounds. That’s sort of where we started,” said Wiseman.

You'd think that the concept of vampires and werewolves mixing it up had been done more than a few times on film. But according to Wiseman, the mix hadn’t really been done in decades. “It’s funny because a lot of the talk has been that it’s a simple concept and why hasn’t this been done before. It’s true. When we decided let’s do vampires and werewolves, we thought that concept’s been done. Of course it’s been done. We talked to our agent, we went on the Internet, we looked at everything, and outside of the 50s, it just hasn’t been done. It was kind of shocking to us.”

Len Wiseman wasn’t thrilled by the idea of throwing in a romance, but the “Romeo and Juliet” description that’s been tossed about when describing the movie was an especially prickly subject. “That was kind of a dangerous one. I’m kind of afraid of all that’s corny. I do shy away from that stuff. So the minute [they] came up with this, ‘Why don’t we do this kind of ‘Romeo and Juliet?’ At first I thought it was the lamest idea I’d ever heard in my whole life. I’m already trying to go to studios and pitch that it’s vampires versus werewolves. I always feel like that, to me, sounds like a B movie. Just the nature of it’s being a werewolf [film], it’s something you’ve got to get over when you’re pitching. When the whole ‘Romeo and Juliet’ thing came in to play, it was really just to set up the state of the two races. Instead of Montagues and Capulets, there are werewolves and vampires. [To create] that tension, the forbidden nature of them being together, that was much more the thrust of the romance than just the all-out love story.

I’ve always been a freak about every little detail. Things like a love story in a driving action film I always have a hard time with. If it doesn’t really present itself that you can actually stop and have a love story, when it’s just [that] everything is dangerous, I just feel like it’s always pushed. Our love story was always a bit more like ‘Aliens’ than a ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ If the movie closes and people think, ‘If they were given the time, they may go forward in this relationship,’ that’s cool,” explained Wiseman.

NEXT PAGE: Len Wiseman on CG Effects, Internet Rumors, and Coloring "Underworld"

Kate Beckinsale / Scott Speedman

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