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Jude Law, Giovanni Ribisi, Kerry Conran, and Jon Avnet Interview

From "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow"


Jude Law Gwyneth Paltrow Sky Captain

Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law in "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow"

© Paramount Pictures
As far as the technology goes, it seems futuristic and yet also seems to be a throwback to decades ago.
KERRY CONRAN: It was a deliberate choice to kind of separate the good guys and their weapons, from the bad guys [who] were more advanced. Giovanni’s character kind of creates most of the technology that the good guys had.

Jude, how was working with Gwyneth Paltrow?
JUDE LAW: It’s a lot of fun. We worked together first five years ago and got on very well and stayed in contact. When I first got involved in this, I don’t seem to remember any other name coming up. It just seems that she was just perfect. She was as enthusiastic about the script and about the visual references that were sort of put to her, and jumped on board. We had a lot of fun. We had a lot of fun. It’s very easy working with Gwyneth because she gets it. If she says she gets something, she gets it immediately and there’s no messing about. She’ll be there, she’ll turn up, she’ll do the job. She’s great fun to be around.

I think once we all got a taste of their relationship, we just all kept kind of feeding it with ideas of how they could continue bickering and what they could bicker about. And then, of course, we just sat in a cockpit all day with nothing else to do so used to talk about their backstory and how they met and how their first argument started. So there’s a lot of good banter, and a lot of that was onscreen.

How long did you have to sit in that cockpit?
JUDE LAW: Three days solid, pretty much.

Obviously comic books had a strong influence on this film, and pulp fiction itself. What were your influences and what kind of comics have you read?
KERRY CONRAN: I’ve read the whole litany of comics. The stuff that was the most visually striking were the covers of the 30’s and 40’s. The graphic images just in the covers, I thought, told the stories on such a grand scale. I do think those comics had such a whimsy to them that you don’t so much see today. Today I think there’s much more… a little bit more reality, a little bit more grounded in certain ways. The artwork of that era, they just dreamed up things on that level. They were sort of inventing the genre as they went along.

JUDE LAW: There’s an optimism to them as well, isn’t there?

JON AVNET: A lack of cynicism. The part of the World of Tomorrow, the World’s Fair and what was happening there, what was being invented, and its relationship to the pulp images of the time and to the sense of the infinite possibilities. If you look at that time now historically, knowing what was about to happen, and you look at the optimism and you look at our time now, not knowing what’s going to happen, it’s an incredibly different feeling. Or so it seems – I wasn’t around at that time.

JUDE LAW: I’m a comic book reader and a fan, but I didn’t know the type of references that Kerry has just given. I didn’t collect those. I read more obvious and modern ones, Parallax and Strange Days and Watchmen. What was interesting was that as soon as Kerry showed me those images, it was like such a real, immediate, tangible sense of what was going on at that time. It didn’t take an awful lot of explanation to know, once he started feeding me those, what the film was about and where the kind of innocence lay and where the heroics lay. And that it was a good old-fashioned hero, not a hero who was sort of driven by dementia or that he was hiding something. He was just square-chinned, ‘get up in the morning and go save the world’, you know? That type of guy.

Where’d the idea come from to use Sir Laurence Olivier?
KERRY CONRAN: Jude Law came up with that…

JON AVNET: We don’t necessarily want to give him all of the credit – just 100% of the credit. Kerry had written this over a two year period of time. Kerry and I got together – Marsha [Oglesby] brought this six minute video that he’d been working on for four years in his garage on his little Mac there. I guess Marsha and Kerry’s brother Kevin persuaded Kerry that at six minutes over four years, you might finish this thing shortly prior to going to your grave. When I saw it, I got really excited about it. Obviously we had this character and it’s like, “Who do you pick?” So we, like the great artists that Kerry and I are, didn’t have a clue. And we were sitting with Jude one day and…

JUDE LAW: I just wanted to work with him (laughing). That’s it. And it just seemed to make sense.

JON AVNET: But the thing that was also great is that when we were sitting there, we felt that with the technology that we were about to put into place, that this was possible. And that it was possible in a number of different ways. We had no real idea at the time exactly how he would be realized, what footage we would take. I called up his estate and said, “We want your boy.” It was a sort of strange negotiation to get him.

Was it his voice?
JON AVNET: No. The voice… I think the voice shall remain a mystery. I think very few things do, but let’s say a lot of work went into making it be very, very good.

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