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Zack Snyder Discusses "300" and "Watchmen"

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Zack Snyder Discusses "300" and "Watchmen"

Director Zack Snyder and Lena Headey on the set of "300."

© Warner Bros Pictures

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One Scene Didn’t Make the Final Cut: Almost everything from Miller’s 300 found its way into the film, with one exception. “Nothing from the graphic novel really except for that one scene with Xerxes, Stelios and Leonidas at the very beginning of the novel. We did shoot this thing that’s going to be on the DVD. It’s these giants with these midget archers on their backs. They just got so outrageous that when I looked at it I thought, ‘This is from another movie.’ It was crazy.”

That scene is 90% complete. “It’s pretty cool. The Spartans are running and they have no arms. Their arms have been hacked off. They have these little sort of elf-looking guys in these kind of wicker baskets on their backs. They’re firing arrows and then the Spartans come and hack the leg off it. It falls and they leap off and stab the little elf.”

What else can fans expect to see on the 300 DVD? “There’s only a few deleted scenes because it’s pretty much the movie that we made. That’s the thing. The one cool thing about the cinematic experience of 300 is that it’s my cut. They haven’t really messed with it that much. Although there are a few Ephialtes scenes we took out where, when we first see him, he’s looking down on the Persians. It’s just straight out of the graphic novel. You can look at the graphic novel and those are the two scenes that aren’t it in. But, we shot them. Also Stelios jumping off the wall of the dead, that was also in the movie.”

Next Up – Watchmen: Snyder’s going to tackle another graphic novel in the near future when he brings the much-anticipated film version of Watchmen to the big screen. Snyder explained what’s happening now with that project: “We’re trying to get a budget together now for that. I feel like the movie is in a very cool place. I think the script is starting to become pretty cool. I’ve been talking to some actors. I’m not going to say who. But, it’s cool because in some ways you can get real actors. You don’t have to go Hollywood, so that’s all going along. I’ve been drawing away, you know, and so I think it’s coming along. They have talked about maybe shooting in the summer.”

Why the Delay? 10 years ago Joel Silver was preparing to work on Watchmen and Snyder’s happy that didn’t move forward. “I can only thank God that they haven’t gotten it together yet. I think the delay is that they haven’t known what it was. It’s only now. I set the movie in 1985 and I have the luxury of being far enough away from 1985 so that that is a viable idea. I think what happened in the past was that when you’re only five years away from 1985, it’s a weird time to make a period piece that took place three years ago. But, studios don’t get that. There has been a push, I think, on the other scripts that exist about trying to update the movie or trying to make it take place in present day and things of that nature. I think by setting it in 1985, by having the Cold War, having Nixon, having all that stuff, you sort of reinvigorate what the story is about. It allows all the metaphors to sort of erect.

If you set the movie in modern times, you’re basically saying it’s the war on terror right now is the thing. Then the movie is asking me, ‘Oh Zack, what do you think of the war on terror? What’s your take on it?’ Who gives a f**k about what I think about the war on terror? That’s not why people go to the movies. I think that what Alan [Moore] in his book, the comment he’s made about authority and government and all those things, maybe if you make that movie right what that has to say makes people think about what’s happening maybe now or in their own lives. That’s my hope for what the movie could be.”

The 300 Launching Pad: The positive buzz surrounding 300 has helped Snyder in more ways than one. “I can’t say it hasn’t helped a lot. What it does do, people have said to me, ‘What’s going on with Watchmen? You’ve got to make sure you don’t f**k that up.’ I’m sorry if I’m swearing. He goes, ‘What can I do to help?’ And I said, ‘Go see 300.’ The truth is 300, to the studio, is a graphic novel movie. It is not a movie that they necessarily understand exactly when I pitch it on paper. When I say, ‘Listen, it’s this in the movie.’ They don’t get that. My point is that they feel in some ways the same about Watchmen. They don’t understand why it’s not Fantastic 4. I have to remind them that it’s much more Strange Love than it is Fantastic 4, which they don’t like hearing. But they believe that I know - which is a mistake. No. They believe that I know and in that way it helps. When they finally saw this movie, I think they felt, ‘Wow, we didn’t know this was the movie you were necessarily making, but we like this movie.’ Maybe that will apply to Watchmen.”

Dealing with the Budget for Watchmen: Will the performance of 300 affect how much money Snyder gets from the studio to work with on Watchmen? “That’s theoretical,” answered Snyder. “I believe that is probably reflecting reality. I don’t know that for sure. It’s not set right now. Maybe that’s a coincidence. Maybe not.”

Snyder’s Approach to Watchmen: “The idea with Watchmen is not to do a CG movie, but to do it when it’s necessary. Like when he goes to Mars, there’s an issue there. You’ve got to figure that out. We can’t go to Mars. I know a lot of people are going to be disappointed in that, but I don’t have the money. Antarctica also. There’s no Karnak. I know again we should probably build it, but I don’t think they are going to let us do that. So those two things right off the bat. Dr. Manhattan himself… What do you do? How do you render him? Rorschach's mask? There are things that have to be dealt with and figured out. I think the appetite for me is to make a movie that feels more like Taxi Driver than like Fantastic 4. It’s a balance.”

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