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INT: Lawrence Bender

10.08.2003

Interview #1 Uma Thurman
Interview #2 Lucy Liu
Interview #3 Lawrence Bender
Interview #4 Vivica A. Fox
Interview #5 Quentin Tarantino

Clad in a tattered leather jacket and sporting a mop of long, wavy hair, Lawrence Bender looked more like an East Village hipster than a Hollywood producer as he sat down to talk about KILL BILL, his latest collaboration with director Quentin Tarantino. Bender, a former dancer who studied civil engineering in college, has been Tarantinoís producer since the days of RESERVOIR DOGS, a little indie flick that you might be familiar with.

Itís been a long time since Dogs first made a splash at Sundance, and Bender is now a big-time Hollywood mofo, having garnered boatloads of Academy Award nominations with films like GOOD WILL HUNTING.Nevertheless, KILL BILL represents, by far, his most ambitious project to date.Though it possesses Tarantinoís trademark quirkiness and indie sensibility, the movie is still, at its heart, a $55 million action movie.

Shot in four different countries, KILL BILL presented enough logistical challenges to make give even the most confident producer pause. But Bender proved more than up to the task, as audiences will learn when the movie opens on Friday.Hereís what he had to say about it:

LAWRENCE BENDER

How did the idea of splitting the film into two volumes originate?

When we were working on the movie, the idea of this Volume 1, Volume 2 thing came up like about a month before we ended shooting. Quentin wrote the script in chapters, so it kind of lends itself to that idea. Not that we thought about it before. Quentin came up with a way to do it, pretty quickly, actually, and then we just dropped it.Of course, that created rumors. Everyone on the set talked about it, the actors started talking about it, and then it hit the press. But it wasnít like we were going back and forth. Itís just, we thought about it and we dropped it.

We finished the movie and then we got into the editing stage and we were working through it.At a certain point, we got to basically where it is now. We called Harvey into the editing room and said ďLetís just watch the movie now. Youíre looking at the first half of one movie or itís going to be part one of two parts. Have an open mind and letís see.Ē We basically watched what you guys watched, only in a much rougher form. And we felt like it totally worked. It felt like you have a full meal. Itís not over because you havenít killed Bill. And itís called KILL BILL so you know thereís more to come. Yeah, I think you feel relatively satisfied but youíre yearning more.

Did you ever suggest to Quentin that he might trim the film to get it under three hours?

Itís kind of a boring, because it wasnít very confrontational. Literally, we were there with Harvey, me and Sally, our editor. We thought about it a little bit. But until we watched it, we were kinda like, ďLetís not talk about it until we see it. And then weíll just see how it works. Weíre all open to it.Ē I actually brought up, ďDoes it make any sense to cut this thing down?Ē And the answer was, ďNo.Ē I was just saying it to say it. I didnít believe it. So, no.

Will there eventually be a DVD with all of it put together?

Maybe. I donít really know. We havenít really thought about that. We really want each movie to be seen as a separate entity. So, I mean, thatís primarily what weíre focused on. At some point maybe weíll do that.

How hard was it to internationally cast people?

Oh, my God. This was huge endeavor. We were in four countries, by the way. This was an enormous, enormous logistics project. I mean, what we did was we brought master Yuen Wu-Ping and his Hong Kong fight team to Culver City where we set up a training center and we trained Lucy, Daryl, Vivica, Uma and David Carradine nine to five for twelve weeks. And that was really tough, because thatís like full-on hard-core fight training. Stretching, punching kicking, wire work. Uma had the hardest job because each person had to learn one technique but she had to learn all the techniques because she had to fight everybody with all these different weapons. She had to learn Japanese.

We went to Beijing and the process was: we were going to have them train in Beijing for a few weeks to get acclimated to the sets, to being in Beijing, to that environment. I tell you, that was one of the most incredible experiences Iíve ever had.Those first three weeks were very difficult because the communication was difficult, the Chinese would be upset because they werenít quite able to do what we wanted and the Americans were upset because they couldnít quite communicate. The equipment was different. It was just three weeks of ďHow do we figure this out?Ē Literally, halfway through the fourth week, three and a half, four weeks in, it just started clicking. After a few weeks we were just working like clockwork. It was amazing. The first days shoot we had 21 set-ups, which for a big movie is really wonderful amount of work to accomplish. It just really worked well.

You said there is a different version that will be shown in Japan. That itís colorized in the restaurant. Is there anything else thatís changed?

I donít like to talk about the differences. Youíre going to have to figure it out. Youíre going to have to see it somehow. I donít want to give it away.

Is Quentin working on that World War II project?

Because heís been working on this for three years, he hasnít, I donít think, thought that much about that movie. You could ask him, of course, but honestly, whatever he does next, heís not gonna really know until he finished Volume 2 and emotionally goes throughÖ I remember working on THE MEXICAN. At one point, David Fincher was going to direct The Mexican and he was on post-production on FIGHT CLUB. He finally said, ďLawrence, you know, I canít date another girl.ĒAs a director, youíre so emotionally involved with the movie until youíre through it and youíve promoted it and released it. Itís hard to know what youíre going to do next.

How do you manage to keep fresh when you have increasing budgets?

Itís true. Itís funny, JACKIE BROWN, PULP FICTION and RESERVOIR DOGS, itís people go to a place and they talk. Or they go some place else and they shoot somebody. Do a bit of action, then they go someplace else and they talk. In this movie, thereís very little talking. Half of its in Japanese, and itís in four different countries to boot. You know, I think it comes out of Quentin ultimately. He really thinks outside the box. He really doesnít accept ďWell, thatís just the way itís doneĒ kind of an answer. ĎNo. Why? Cause it doesnít work that way. What do you mean? Why canít weÖí So heís challenging that way. He challenges me. So he keeps me on my game. And ultimately, itís cool, because he pushes boundaries. And, we also find ways to work on lower budgets. This movie is a 155 day shoot, but because we were able to shoot so much in China, we were able to keep the cost down.

Did Umaís pregnancy have an effect on the start of production?

The answer is yes and no, honestly. When Uma got pregnant, Quentin wasnít really finished with the script. You never know how these things go. If she didnít get pregnant, would he have gotten it done quicker? Maybe. But, it was kind of a blessing in disguise, because I donít know if he would have. So, that gave him a little more time to finish. We had a massive pre-production schedule. When he handed me that script I had no down time. You have to crew up in four different countries. Itís just a massive amount to pull of, so it ended up helping us. If she didnít get pregnant, could we have pushed back a couple of months? Maybe. But, I sort of donít know how we would have done it in that short amount of time.

Are you really working on a soccer trilogy for David Beckham?

I am working on a soccer movie. Whether Beckhamís in it, I donít know.

Would you like him to be?

Sure. Itís not about David Beckham. I am working on a soccer movie; I hate to talk about it because weíre not even in pre-production yet. But itís about a young Latino kid from East LA who ends up on an English soccer team. Weíre still working on the script.

Was the Japanese music in the closing credits composed for the film?

No. That music has actually been around for a long time. Quentin has always been known for using music in his movies. I feel like, in this movie, heís just taken a jump. I mean, from Quincy Jones to Bernard Herman to Nancy Sinatra singing, ďBang bang.Ē It all works. I remember watching for the first time in the editing room the scene with Daryl Hannah. ďWhere did you come up with that idea? What an amazing idea to put that Bernard Herman music. Itís extraordinary.Ē And the same with the end title music. Thatís old music. Itís been around for a long time. Let me tell, clearing that stuff is not easy too. Youíre tracking down people all over the world.

MORE KILL BILL INTERVIEWS COMING SOON...

Source: JoBlo.com

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