Giant 70 robots greeted fans on the way into the San Diego Convention Center, the Sky Captain booth was a big draw in the main exhibit hall, and Sky Captain stars Jude Law, Giovanni Ribisi, and Bai Ling joined writer/director Kerry Conran and producer Jon Avnet on stage in the 6,500 seat auditorium to get the crowd pumped up about the upcoming September 17, 2004 release.
Before taking the stage, I sat down with Law to talk about this very unusual film (Ive seen it and its definitely a unique moviegoing experience).
INTERVIEW WITH JUDE LAW:
You went from playing a robot in a Spielberg film to fighting robots. Whats more fun?
(Laughing) Goodness. Thats a really hard question because they were such sort of different types of robots. I think for me its always been the most recent experience is often the most fun because you just kind of come out of it. I think also this was very much a type of role I really wanted to play at some point in my career. And AI came along and was such a kind of curveball, and it was such a sort of unusual experience creating that character, that robot, that it was a permanent sort of taste [or] collaboration with makeup. Whereas with this one is was very much like fitting into a skin that was very familiar, that had a huge backstory that has existed in other forms in other characters whether its Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon before and was, therefore, something that I wanted to fit into. Do you see what I mean? So yeah, I suppose Sky Captain, but they were both fun.
As Sky Captain, you do a sideways neck crack at the end of the movie. Was that a Gigolo Joe reference?
I do it before, as well, when I drink my Milk of Magnesia. (Laughing) No, it wasnt but it should be. Ive got to steal that. A little wink to the Gigolo Joe lovers.
How did you get involved with Sky Captain?
I got involved really early on, not as early as Kerry [Conran] obviously. Its about two years ago and basically Jon [Avnet], who I had met a couple of times before, wanted to show me this teaser trailer. And I was just very simply blown away by this. I didnt kind of get what hed already told me about how this guy made it. I loved his references. I thought it was very clear that he was a filmmaker who had an incredible sense of style and rhythm, and his composition was beautiful. And I loved it.
All I got at that early stage was that hed used pretty advanced and unused technology to create a very retrospective look. And I loved that kind of duality of that. I loved that rather than creating a super-real world or a world of the future, he was going back with advanced technology and it seemed like the right way to do that. But I loved the clear references that were there in that trailer, whether it was Fritz Lang or Citizen Kane or The Third Man, as Kerry [has] mentioned before. And then I thought, Well, this is great but wheres the script? And then he said, Well, read the script, and it was clear then that this guy was also an incredibly good writer above and beyond the visual that he was really quick to give me in the teaser and also with the artwork. I mean, this particular poster was also on the front of the script. What was clear was also that at the center was a really great cinematic relationship, which you could put into any genre and it would work. You know, that kind of bickering [relationship]. I always like to call it African Queen meets Buck Rogers, because you know its [that] kind of relationship. If you can create two good characters and a history and a world around them and a dynamic between them, you can put them anywhere and people will want to watch. And theres the humor in all the obvious kinds of references to world domination and gadgets and gizmos. And I was just eager and keen to get onboard.
Whats interesting is obviously a lot of people want to know was the process hard because of the amount of blue screen we used and was there a sense of disorientation because of the fact. But in fact, Kerry was so clear from the get-go in his own kind of humble, incredibly shy way, so strong with what he knew could be created and was so eager to draw us all into that, that we felt from the get-go that we knew exactly what this was going to become. It was only really until I saw it back a couple of weeks ago finally finished that I realized what a leap of faith wed all made (laughing). I was watching it thinking, God, there was nothing there. How the f*** did we know? How did we know? And we really didnt. But what was clear was this guys world. And as Ive probably said over and over again, his references were really strong. And so it was just a matter of kind of going along with that.