Mark O'Connell: Thanks for taking the time to talk to www.film-reviews.net. First of all, can you tell us how the original idea of Outlander came about?
Dirk Blackman: HOWARD AND I BOTH LOVED BEOWULF. MONSTERS, VIKINGS, WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE, RIGHT? WE WONDERED WHY IT HADN'T BEEN DONE BEFORE. WE REALIZED IT WAS SIMPLE - IT WAS HISTORICAL, BUT CONTAINED A MONSTER WE ALL KNEW WASN'T REAL. THAT PUT IT IN THE REALM OF FANTASY. BACK WHEN WE FIRST HAD THE IDEA, FANTASY WAS DEATH AT THE BOX OFFICE. SO WE USED THE LANGUAGE OF FANTASY THAT EVERYONE COULD ACCEPT - SCIENCE-FICTION. A MAN FROM OUTER SPACE CAME TO OUR WORLD UNKNOWINGLY CARRYING A CREATURE WITH HIM. HE JUST HAPPENED TO LAND IN VIKING TIMES.
Mark O'Connell: Aliens are typically featured in modern day or futuristic settings. What kind of tactics did the Vikings have to employ to stand a chance against their advanced foe?
Dirk Blackman: THEY USED STEEL AND FIRE BUT FOUND BOTH FUTILE. THE HERO HAD TO TURN TO TECHNOLOGY FROM HIS CRASHED SHIP, WHICH HE COUPLED WITH THE VIKING'S BRAWN AND BRAVERY.
Mark O'Connell: Does the storyline incorporate Norse mythology to any degree?
Dirk Blackman: NOT REALLY. THERE WERE NODS TO IT IN EARLIER DRAFTS BUT THEY WERE CUT FOR LENGTH. ULTIMATELY, WE LIKED THE IDEA THAT THE VIKINGS WOULD SING OF THESE EVENTS OF THE MOVIE, AND THOSE POEMS WOULD ULTIMATELY BECOME "BEOWULF".
Mark O'Connell: Is it explained why the alien Kainan (played by Jim Caviezel) has a humanoid appearance?
Dirk Blackman: GLANCINGLY,YES. HIS STAR-SPANNING RACE ACTUALLY SEEDED OUR WORLD UNTOLD MILLENNIA AGO.
Mark O'Connell: With the bloodthirsty Moorwen tearing up the scenery, can we expect much gore?
Dirk Blackman: THERE WILL BE GORE.
Mark O'Connell: Were any of the characters written with particular actors in mind to play them and if so, were they cast?
Dirk Blackman: NOT REALLY. WHEN THE CAST WAS SET, WE WERE JUST BLOWN AWAY. C'MON... JOHN HURT! AND RON PERLMAN, RIGHT OFF OF HELLBOY. AND "NEWCOMERS" LIKE JACK HUSTON AND SOPHIA MYLES. THEY ARE GOING TO BE HUGE. SO, WE ENDED UP WITH AN UNIMAGINABLY COOL AND GLORIOUSLY TALENTED CAST.
Mark O'Connell: Did the actors suffer any injuries during production?
JACK HUSTON BROKE HIS COLLAR BONE WHILE EXECUTING A MANLY SHOULDER ROLL ON THE ICY GROUND. THERE WERE ALSO REPORTS OF PINK EYE GOING AROUND DURING SCENES ON A WATERFALL SET (THE WATER IS FILTERED AND RECYCLED) BUT THEY MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN TRUE. OH, AND ONE OF THE PRINCIPALS DARINGLY ATE A PIECE OF UNCOOKED CODFISH DURING A NEW FOUNDLAND DRINKING GAME AND SPENT THE NEXT DAY VOMITING UP HIS TOES.
Mark O'Connell: Having pitted Vikings against aliens, would you like to explore any more what-if scenarios with the Norse warriors? Dinosaurs or robots perhaps...
Dirk Blackman: WELL HERE'S THE THING... CAMP IS A WONDERFUL THING, DONE RIGHT. HOWEVER, WE WERE HONESTLY TRYING TO AVOID IT, AND PLAYED THE MOVIE AS STRAIGHT AS WE COULD. THE TRUTH IS, WE FOUND THE SCENARIO NO MORE ABSURD THAN PREDATOR. SO, NO DINOSAURS. BUT WAIT... DID YOU SAY ROBOTS? H'MM... SO HOW'S THIS - THE VIKINGS - THEY'RE BAD THIS TIME - ARE SACKING PARIS, WHEN FROM OUT OF THE WATER RISES A GIANT ROBOT TO PROTECT THE INNOCENT PARISIANS. AND HERE'S THE KICKER - IT'S ACTUALLY THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES, WHICH WASN'T JUST A STATUE, BUT WAS A WAR MACHINE LEFT ON EARTH BY THE ALIEN RACE THAT BUILT THE PYRAMIDS! AND... OH THIS IS GOOD! THE PARISIANS RETAINED A MEMORY OF BEING SAVED BY THIS GIANT METAL WARRIOR AND IN FRIENDSHIP TO THE UNITED STATES PRESENTED US WITH OUR VERY OWN - THE STATUE OF LIBERTY!! (WHICH WILL COME ALIVE IN THE SEQUEL TO SAVE US FROM THE DESCENDANTS OF THE VIKINGS WHO RAIDED PARIS)
Mark O'Connell: What is the current status of Amazon?
Dirk Blackman: LION'S GATE IS MOVING FORWARD AND HAVE GOTTEN SUPER PRODUCER NEIL MORITZ ON BOARD. SCARLETT JOHANNSON IS STILL ATTACHED AND THE STUDIO HAS THE PROJECT OUT TO DIRECTORS. WE ARE HOPEFUL THAT SOMEONE WILL BE SIGNED SOON, AS THERE IS INTEREST FROM SOME VERY COOL PEOPLE. AFTER THAT COME THE REWRITES...
Mark O'Connell: What can you tell us about the Conan script that you are currently working on?
Dirk Blackman: IT IS GOING TO BE "R" RATED, HARSH AND TOUGH. THERE WILL BE FANTASTIC ELEMENTS IN IT, BUT NOT AS FAR AS LORD OF THE RINGS TOOK IT. IT WILL CREATE ITS OWN HYBORIAN WORLD, WHICH IS MYSTERIOUS, EXOTIC, DANGEROUS. THERE WILL BE NO CAMP ELEMENTS, NO WINKING AT THE CAMERA, NO POSING. AS FOR STORY DETAILS... A LITTLE EARLY AT THIS POINT TO BE LEAKING THEM.
Mark O'Connell: Are you approaching the project as a continuation of the 1980’s movies, or will it be more of a reboot?
Dirk Blackman: IT IS DEFINITELY A REBOOT. THE EARLIER MOVIES DID NOT HAPPEN.
Mark O'Connell: Any thoughts on who should play Conan in the new movie?
Dirk Blackman: CONAN NEEDS TO REINVENT HIMSELF AND PRESENT HIMSELF AFRESH TO THE WORLD, SO THAT MIGHT MEAN THAT A KNOWN ACTOR COULD CARRY TOO MUCH BAGGAGE. THAT SAID, IT WILL BE DIFFICULT TO FIND SOMEONE WHO IS PHYSICALLY IMPOSING BUT WHO ALSO HAS ACTING CHOPS. DESPITE WHAT ONE MAY THINK, CONAN ISN'T JUST A GRUNTING MORON.
Mark O'Connell: Finally, can you tell us when Outlander due for release in the UK?
Dirk Blackman: I BELIEVE IT IS DUE OUT IN FEBRUARY.
FINALLY - I DO HAVE AN OUTLANDER BLOG UP AT : http://outlanderthemovie.wordpress.com/
Mark O'Connell: Thanks for your time and best of luck with your forthcoming projects!
Dirk Blackman: YOU'RE WELCOME!!
Dirk Blackman Q&A
This exclusive interview with
writer Dirk Blackman was conducted by Mark O'Connell for Film-Reviews.net.
Dirk Blackman is the writer and executive producer on 2009's Outlander. He has also written the forthcoming Amazon and is currently working on the screenplay for Conan (2010).