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Set Visit: Underworld 2 (1/2)


January 2005: Hey gore friends, Arrow here! Well, shortly after my swell visit on the EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE SET, I was tossed into a van with my fellow journalists to go check out the set to the anticipated sequel to the 2003 hit UNDERWORLD called UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION.

Official Synopsis: The sequel to the $100 million worldwide hit, Underworld: Evolution continues the saga of war between the aristocratic Death Dealers and the barbaric Lycans (werewolves). The film traces the beginnings of the ancient feud between the two tribes as Selene (Kate Beckinsale), the beautiful vampire heroine, and Michael (Scott Speedman), the Lycan hybrid, try to unlock the secrets of their bloodlines. The fast-paced, modern-day tale of deadly action, ruthless intrigue and forbidden love takes them into the battle to end all wars as the immortals must finally face their retribution.

ON SET: The first place to which we were taken was the ludicrously vast UNDERWORLD 2 set and creatures designer/supervisor & all around uber-talented genius Patrick Tatopoulos's office. There I was treated to seeing designs for the werewolves (much more feline looking than in the original), the vampires (pretty much the same look as in the first one), the Medieval get-ups (looking mucho accurate!) and the many locations. The location that struck me the most was a ship that the "Death Dealers" use in the past to hunt down their Lycan nemeses. The exterior of the ship was mammoth to say the least and the design was brilliant. As for the interiors...well, read on!

The second place we witnessed was the actual "interior of the ship" set which bamboozled me in its attention to detail and its mix of old and new. When looking up, I saw a huge glass window and some dude that was on set explained to me that somebody would crash through that window and a big ruckus would take place within the interior of the ship; vamps vs. man-wolves. Sounds like fun times to me! That explained that splatter of blood that was on the wall to my right. Upon further inspection of the premises, I noted a myriad of weapons within glass casings, a bunch of computers that the vamps use to track down the wolf-pests and the end of the ship, a huge statue. After quite some time on that set, we were asked to move to another location. Too bad I didn't want to leave this one! I could see myself living a good life in that ship! You know, a place to hang my hat.

The third and sadly, the last location I visited was the trailer of the Special Effects dudes. Didn't learn much on that run. Pretty much heard what I already knew, once more they're going "practical" and using CG to enhance the effects. That's the way to go in my book of blood! Although I did get a kick out of them taking out an animatronics "Wolf Man" head and having it gyrate its facial muscles (eyes, jaw, cheeks...what not) for our viewing pleasure.

That face looked familiar...UNDERWORLD: Part 1? Maybe. My ex-girlfriend? Yes! That's where I knew that hairy mug from! After that, I was muscled into a van and taken to the film's press conference, which you can read all about below. Feast your retinas on the content below and feel the saliva build inside your yapper for the impending release of the bigger and badder Underworld 2!


Was there anything that you particularly enjoyed about the first movie that made you say yes to this sequel

KB: No. (LAUGHS). It was a big change of direction for me. I had never done a film where I'd actually been sort of tough and active. I'm a very un-athletic sort of rather wet, frightened person in life – it was quite a challenge for me to play an action heroine and pull off all that training when I can't catch a ball if it's coming my way and that kind of thing. So that was really interesting. I mean it does seem to have slightly spiraled out of control now, and, you know –

You’ve done more now?

KB: I've done quite a few more and it's still extraordinary to me
that anybody will actually buy it, which is absolutely credit to Len and to the stunt team and to everybody else. It was such a fun movie. We all had such a lovely time. I had never done an action movie and Scott hadn’t either. And Len had never done a movie, and the writer had never written a movie so everybody was really very excited to be making this thing for not very much money and make the best thing that we could do. And I think we really pulled it off. It’s unusual in this business. You are such gypsies that you don't often get to work with the same gang. You may get the odd one person every ten years that you've come across before, but it was such a lovely group and the sequel idea is a cool idea too. So it was a nice story to tell.

This question is for Scott. What is your character’s major role in the sequel?

SS: Oh crap, I don't know. (LAUGHTER) Jeez, I don't know, I don't know. What would you say? I don't know.

KB: What are we allowed to say?

LW: Your major role has some things we don't want to give away.

SS: Yeah.

LW: He's one of the puzzle pieces I guess would best put it.

SS: Yeah, I really don't know how to answer that question. I don't really, sorry.

KB: He provides most of the nipples in the movie.

SS: I'm naked a lot, which is good.

The first movie came in under the radar. Nobody was expecting it to do what it did. Now you have a franchise that’s hanging over your head. How did you approach the second film with that in your mind?

LW: First, thank you for that. It's really strange because the first one was something that was just developed in my living room. Nobody was peeking through the windows and all that, we were kind of left alone. And now everybody, I mean on the sites are there. There’s a lot of interest and just a lot of speculation about what the movie's going to be, which is really strange for me because I'm used to be working on a project that so many people have an opinion about and hopes for and speculation. So it’s odd. It's a weird experience for me.

My question is for whoever wants to grab this one first. What can you tell me about the physical aspect of this film, like the fighting, relative to the first UNDERWORLD?

LW: The action and the scenes are much bigger. There's a lot more going on. Scale-wise it's a much bigger movie. There's not a lot more fighting.

KB: I think there is. There is for me. There is more.

LW: There is actually more for you, yeah. Actually I'm, I’m lying. There's more for you as well, you know. There's less fighting for me.

Can you go into more specifics than that?

LW: The end sequence there's a lot more transformations with, uh, with – God, I don't want to give too much away -- we’ve got this intense helicopter action. We've got people jumping out of helicopters. A big scene with that. (LAUGHS)

The opening, we go into this medieval sequence and we get to see Viktor and his team of death dealers. There's quite a big opening battle that takes place. We've got all the, all the guys and the vampires in full armor and –

KB: Horses.

LW: -- horses and, and we've got a little werewolves versus vampires action in medieval times.

A question for Len and you others might jump in. What did you learn from making the first movie that you want to do differently on this one? As far as working with a huge overblown budget?

LW: I'm not suffering with that problem. UNDERWORLD was my first film so there are a lot of things I had never experienced before. I'm finding this one about seventy percent less stressful. It was shot in Budapest as well and I had about maybe fifteen people that spoke English. I'm exaggerating a bit, but most of the crew did not speak English. So it was just a tough experience for me to battle through all that, being the first film. So there's a lot that I learned from that one. I could go on and on about what you learn from a first film. And budget-wise it helps to have a bit more to do a bit more. So we can scale it up


KB: It's still not an enormous budget. It's still fairly modest for the kind of movie, isn't it?

LW: Oh yeah. In terms of like VAN HELSING, you know VAN HELSING size. I mean, yeah.

KB: We decided not to have an enormous red cartoon monster in this one, so we saved money – (LAUGHTER OVER)

LW: That does help. Yeah. We went with the rubber version.

KB: We usually go with the rubber version with anything. So…

You’ve done a lot to modernize and change the traditional vampires and werewolves, but what are your favorite parts of the old myths about these creatures that drew you to them in the first place?

LW: This, this is, this is where I go down in flames because I'm not a huge fan of a lot of the older films and the older legends. I actually approached UNDERWORLD as doing horror characters in more of an action film, and actually changing it up. I mean the whole thing about just modernizing it -- I wanted to see something different.

What did you not like about them, then?

LW: What did I not like about them? I'm not into the religious vampires, that you can hold up a cross and they cower. There are kind of “fantasy” vampires, and then there's “reality” vampires. In my world, ours are more based in science. It's about a rare blood disease and is treated more like a plague than anything that's too fantastic. So those things I guess would be the cross stuff, the not seeing your reflection in the mirror…it's just a bit too out there for me.

The film wasn’t as big a success in the theater as it was later on DVD. Were you disappointed at first by that? Were you surprised later at the fan-base it gained after the fact?

LW: I was –

KB: We were thrilled, weren't we?

LW: Oh, completely thrilled.

KB: It made all its money back in one weekend. So we were just like wow.

LW: Yeah, and in terms of it being a success, our budget in our first weekend was great for me. I don't know what everybody else thought the movie was going to be. I'm making a fairly small film with UNDERWORLD, and for it to become what it has become and the success that it was, I was quite impressed. The DVD sales completely shocked me. And actually they excited me because it made me realize that UNDERWORLD stood on its own.

I mean it's not a comic book. It's not a game. So there was no name recognition. It was just word-of-mouth after it had already gone through the theater. I read so much stuff or I had been sent stuff where people said “Oh I never checked out UNDERWORLD in the theater, but my girlfriend was telling me oh you got to check out this film. So I watched it and I was so pissed off that I didn't see it in the theater.” I read a lot of stuff like that, so it’s actually quite exciting because now there's…I'm hoping -- a bigger fan-base than we had in the beginning.

At what point did you know that you could do a sequel? Had you already given up on the thought after the theatrical numbers?

LW: No, the theatrical numbers were impressive to the studio. We made a hundred million worldwide. So for a nineteen/twenty million dollar film that’s quite a huge success. So once that happened I got calls from the studio. I mean they wanted a sequel right away, so we started developing from that point. And then the DVD sales were another spike. They did over what the box office did which rarely happens. It was impressive to them so it just kind of fueled the fire for it.

You guys had spent some time developing your characters in the first film. How do you approach the characters in the second film for it to be an interesting process for you?

SS: Uh, I don't know. For this one it's more fun for me this time. I‘m less of a pedestrian in all the action and am a lot more dynamic of a character. So it's a lot more fun that way. I mean I didn't really develop anything.

LW: Yeah, you got kind of pulled around a lot in the first one.

SS: Yeah, which was cool, which was fun but this feels like a lot more part of the story it.

KB: I was in a slightly different position than I've ever been in before because I was married to the director. So I started being involved in the process just in terms of hearing about the development very early on, which was a great treat. It doesn't usually happen. Not that I had any kind of Yoko Ono sort of input at that point. -- you know, I think one of the reasons that we did end up running off and getting married was that we do kind of have a very similar take on things, and I think we both felt at the end of UNDERWORLD that it would be quite nice to possibly inject a little bit more fun into this one just to slightly kind of change the energy so that it didn't just stay, you know, entirely per-face the whole way through.

We thought we, we could kind of rock it up a little bit, and I really think we have. You know, Selene's incredibly cool and obviously isn't smiling very much or having highlights or anything in this movie. But I think because our relationship is progressing as well she's got much more of a foil with Scott's character and there's a little bit more opportunity for some different colors in the character, which I thought was great.

This question is for Len. In designing this film have you built into the story any elements which would enable you to go to a third sequel? Did you have that in mind?

LW: Yeah, I mean there's a lot there. Yes, there's actually sequel, and prequel ideas. I'm still seeing how this one goes and there's no set plan in terms of ideas for either.

But you planted ideas in the second one? In a different way than you would have done for the first one, because you really didn’t know at that point?

KB: No, they did for the first one.

LW: We did for the first one.

KB: They had a whole plan the first one.

LW: Yeah, yeah, what we're resolving with Marcus in this one, the last elder, you'll find that in this film. Whether the characters have died in the first film or not, there's a lot of stuff that's still being discovered and uncovered about them that's in this film that we always knew we were going to do in the first one. So yeah, and there's aspects of this one that –

Which could carry over.

LW: That absolutely would carry over, yeah.






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