CON: Eva Mendes & Mark Steven Johnson

Interview with Eva Mendes and director Mark Steven Johnson

Here we are at Day Two of Comic-Con Interview Week here at JoBlo. Yesterday was Bryan Singer and today we have Eva Mendes and Mark Steven Johnson talking GHOST RIDER. Keep in mind that the interview below took place before the GHOST RIDER panel that Sony put on at the Con We didn't have the benefit of seeing the clip that Johnson put together (and leaked online later) before having this interview. Since Johnson did most of the talking (and rightly so since most of the questions were very fanboy oriented), I'll devote a generous amount of space in this article to pictures of Eva. Just to even things out, you know. That's the only reason. The insane cleavage has absolutely nothing to do with it...

Eva, can you tell us a little about your character of Roxanne? EM: I play Johnny Blaze’s love of his life and a reporter. And when you see me in the movie, it’s been years since I’ve seen him, and I haven’t gotten over him. I mean, how can you get over, you know, Johnny Blaze? Or Nic Cage, I should say? Then… (to Mark) help me out here, what happens (laughs). I’m sorry guys, I’ve got to get warmed up. MSJ: Actually, all that stuff got cut out (laughs). EM: Ouch. MSJ: We set it up that the deal with the devil is made with Johnny’s a young boy and [Johnny and Roxy] split up. He has to leave her behind because he can’t risk getting her in danger. They meet up again years later in life.

There was the 70s, sort-of horror version of GHOST RIDER, and the 90s teen action thing. What was your favorite phase and which one will the movie reflect more? MSJ: You bet. The cool thing is that you get the best of both worlds, you know what I mean? Like I really love the original, but I also loved some of the Danny Ketch 90s version. Especially I like Caretaker. They had better villains than we did. Some of the stories, I think, were actually really excellent, too. Especially the stories with Scarecrow. Marvel’s Scarecrow. They were great. It was nice that you get to cherry pick and get the best from both. It kind of actually gives you less pressure. I know they’re going to bring [the comic] back, but there’s no, you know, Frank Miller version that you’re beholden to. It freed me up a little bit. What about yourself? What new material did you generate? MSJ: The biggest thing was cracking… I think the reason it took a while to get the movie to get made… well, there were two reasons. One was because of the FX. You literally couldn’t have made the movie a couple of years ago. We’re doing new stuff now, Fluid Sim, everything for the fire that’s going to look amazing. So that’s a new thing. The second thing was always the actual story, the deal with the devil, that was problematic for people. They kept trying to change it. I think that’s why, eventually, the 70’s “Ghost Rider” run went away. They tried to bring it back and simplify it too much I think. Because it went from that really convoluted “deal with the devil” story in the first one to the magic motorcycle in the graveyard, you know? “Touch it and you turn into Ghost Rider!” It went the other way. So, it was kind of a challenge keeping what we loved about the comic, but also finding a way to hopefully strengthen it. The hard part of the comic was always that the devil gave Johnny all these amazing powers, and he goes out and fights bad guys. It was like, “What’d he do that for?” It never really quite added up. And they tried to explain it, but it never really worked, and it got more and more convoluted. So, we just made it real simple: there’s heaven, there’s hell, and there’s our world. Every once in a while, something gets out of hell that’s not supposed to be here and that’s when you call upon Ghost Rider. He works for the devil as a bounty hunter. So, there’s always been a Ghost Rider is the idea. He used to be on horseback back in the day and now he’s a motorcycle rider. The concept was just that you’d find the best rider, and you make him go and track down these demons for you. What kind of devil will there be in the film? MSJ: It’s pretty tough to pull off Mephisto like the comic, because he has a big cape and big horns, and all that. Though that’s actually what [Peter] Fonda looks like…(laughs). EM: (Laughs) He doesn’t even need makeup; that’s just what he looks like naturally. MSJ: So, we’re doing our demons and also our devil both have a certain look that they wear when they’re here, but there’s something underneath, and that’s something we reveal later in the movie. You get ripples of it when they get angry. It’s like…remember that “Black Hole Sun” video by Soundgarden, how creepy that was? The slight distortion of a smile that goes too far, things like that? You get hints of it, and, then, later in the movie we’re gonna reveal what they really look like. It probably won’t be that close to specifically Mephisto, because, like I said, that’s a tough one to pull off on film. But it will be really, really horrific.

Eva, speaking of Peter Fonda, how was it acting with him? EM: Oh, God, I have the best Fonda story for you guys. He’s so awesome. He’s just Peter Fonda. So one day, we’re hanging out on set, and believe it or not - don’t hold this against me - I’ve never seen EASY RIDER. We’re hanging out talking, and I’m like, “I’m so sorry, I never saw EASY RIDER.” I thought he was going to hit me or something. But he’s like, “You’ve never seen it?” And I said, “No.” He’s like, “Well, why don’t we have an EASY RIDER party at Mark’s place, and I’ll narrate the film for you guys?” So, we sat there, and he narrated. MSJ: It was great. It was like a DVD commentary. It was bizarre. A roomful of people, and we just had an Easy Rider party. It cost me like $5000 in my security deposit, if you know what I mean. It was fun. Fonda’s great, he’s awesome. EM: Fonda’s amazing as an actor. I don’t know what you have to say as a director about Fonda. MSJ: The devil is tough. I went through and looked at all the movies where someone’s played the devil, and it’s a tough one. No one has done it great, you know? Most people go really big with it. They go campy, like THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE. Which was really well done, but it just always seems like the devil is a showman. Like Jack Nicholson in THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK, they’re always very comedic and I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to play it very subtle. I think what we really had to do to differentiate your devil, and ours is Mephistopheles, which means he’s the deal maker, right? That’s where he comes from in literature. So, rather than just be like a fire and brimstone devil, his thing is he’s a salesman. He’s trying to get you to sell your soul, so he’s got to be the ultimate salesman, really smooth. And a great salesman just fits in. He just comes in and just kind of blends in. He’s not the guy calling attention to himself. Before you know it, you’re thinking, “He’s not that bad.” And then you realize what you’re in for. And that’s how horrible it is. How close will the outfits in the movie match the costumes from the comic? MSJ: It’s great. This time I actually have a hero who’s supposed to be in leather, so I’ve got that going for me (laughs). He changes throughout the movie. I know some fans have seen some shots and are like, “Why the spikes are so small?” It’s because he changes his look throughout the movie. Obviously, he doesn’t know what’s going to happen the first time. He’s just wearing his Johnny Blaze outfit. He has no gloves on, so he’s got skeleton hands. He’s got black jeans, a black leather coat and motorcycle boots. The second time, when he breaks out of the jail – and I don’t want to give too much away here - his coat gets ripped, and he upgrades basically to an inmate’s coat that has little studs. The idea is that hellfire affects metal in a certain way. So when hellfire hits a motorcycle, it turns into the Hellcycle; when it hits a shotgun, it turns into a hellfire shotgun; and when it hits the studs in your coat, they pop into these spikes. It’s really cool, and actually worked really well within the outfit. So, he does have the three-inch spikes, the big chain, and all that shit.

Will the “penance stare” figure into the movie? MSJ: The “penance stare” we’re still working on. That’s the toughest one in the whole movie, because I don’t want to do the little vignettes. We’ve seen that before; the quick little cut pieces of people’s sins. The “penance stare,” for anyone who doesn’t know, is when Ghost Rider says, “Look into my eyes,” and you can look at all the sins they’ve done to other people, and make them relive those sins tenfold. He doesn’t kill anybody, Ghost Rider, but it is supposed to be a fate worse then death, because you’re trapped looking at all the shit you’ve done to everyone else. So how to do that without it becoming a little mini-movie is the challenge. What about the hellfire? MSJ: You mean shooting it? No, but I have him throwing hellfire in one scene, which is pretty cool. If there’s any fire on him, he can manipulate it. What I didn’t want to do is get into the Human Torch territory. That’s what’s really hard about Marvel characters; there’s so many. Human Torch, Pyro... You have to be careful about what makes this different from them. Eva, was it tough to shoot with Nic as Ghost Rider with the green hood on his head? EM: I did have once scene where I see him change into Ghost Rider and that freaks my character out, as it would anybody. That’s a pretty intense scene. And at the end, there’s a really sweet thing. [To Mark] Are we still going to do that? MSJ: I don’t know. We can’t give that away. You’re giving away everything (laughing)! You’re giving away the end of the movie! EM: Oh, right (laughs)!

Does this film have a Western feel to it? MSJ: Oh, it’s a straight-up Western. There are so many comic book movies, and you’ve got to find a way to make yours different and that’s why I want to take it out of New York City, Gotham, whatever you want to call it, and take it into Texas. It’s an unnamed town, and it feels very much like ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST meets a Hammer film. It’s cool. It doesn’t look like anything else. Is there humor to the film as well? MSJ: Yeah. But I didn’t want it to get too jokey. But Nic’s real funny, so automatically there’s a lot of humor in the movie. EM: That’s what’s really nice about it. It’s like nothing I’ve ever been a part of. MSJ: Well, you need it, because it’s really horrific, you know? Because there’s stuff like when he changes, you’re used to seeing it in a comic book panel. But when you see someone really with the flesh, you know, blown off his face and coming off his skull, it’s really intense. And even just the Ghost Rider walking around… It’s not done, we just wrapped a few weeks ago, so I’ve only seen test footage, but even the test footage, you just look at it and it’s just intense. It’s a really intense image. So, you have to balance that with some humor. EM: And anytime you sell your soul to the devil, there’s some darkness there (laughs). So, you’re dealing with this dark stuff, it’s nice that Nic, just acting opposite him, made so many funny choices that are real. Because, when the stakes are high in life, oftentimes we make jokes to just survive and get through it. Is there anything you learned from your experience DAREDEVIL that you’ve applied to this film? MSJ: Sure. Lots of things. DAREDEVIL… I really like the movie. It’s flawed, obviously. I think there are problems with it. You lose battles and you win battles, and, luckily, you can do a Director’s Cut and add in twenty-five minutes of story, which is always good for the movie (laughs). Things like that. Eva, what did you think of the Roxanne from the comic and how did you change her for this movie? EM: You know what? I actually thought she was this very hot, voluptuous blonde that was a little “victimy” for my taste. You know what I mean? She cried a lot. I want to thank Mark for taking a chance, just thinking outside the box, because, obviously, I’m not blonde and I don’t look like the original comic book Roxanne. So now she’s darker (laughs), a little more exotic. And just stronger, you know what I mean? Just really, really crazy in love with this man and willing to stand behind him and beside him through thick and thin, but still having a life of her own, being an independent woman – being a career woman. And just this inner strength, not being a victim.

Is Roxanne still the one keeping Ghost Rider out of hell? MSJ: No, no, that didn’t work for me personally. I thought that was always bizarre, the fact that Johnny makes this deal with the devil, and suddenly Roxie breaks the spell. She’s like “I’ve been studying the Occult.” This sweet little girl and she’s got the candles and the pentagram and the blood, and you’re like, “Jesus, where did that come from?” That seemed a little odd. Are you contractually obligated to deliver a PG-13? MSJ: I am. How do you get flesh burning to work under the constraints of a PG-13 movie? MSJ: I’m not sure, but I think it’ll all be in the movie this time. I think PG-13 is getting further and further… you can get more in a PG-13. WAR OF THE WORLDS was PG-13, and there was some pretty intense stuff in there – I mean, really intense, graphic stuff. But, yeah, obviously we have to have our transformation. We have to have that. We’re dealing with hell, which puts you in a darker place, and that’s why, again, we had to balance it with humor and whatnot. But it’s not like I shot a bunch of stuff and thought, “Oh, this will only be in an R-rated director’s cut.” Not at all. What is Ghost Rider’s voice going to sound like? MSJ: We’re working on that right now. Nic did all the dialogue for the Ghost Rider, and then what we do is, obviously, lower it and add we’re just adding a lot of stuff to it. We’re trying it out. It’s fun. You can say all your words and then add like a lion’s roar. We keep saying it’s like a mechanical lion’s roar, you know what I mean? Something heavy metal and really deep that will shake the theater when he talks.

It was rumored you were interested in directing a CAPTAIN AMERICA movie. MSJ: No, no. I love Captain America, though. What other comics do you like? MSJ: Oh, god, yeah. There are so many great ones. I love “Preacher.” I don’t know how you do “Preacher,” though, unfortunately I think you’d have to do a series. I think it would be a great HBO series; I think that would be the best way to tell that story. But yeah, I love that. I love “Silver Surfer”… “The Hulk.” I love all of them. And I think a lot of them are going to come back too, you know, and get re-imagined.

And now, even though the interview is over, more Eva Mendes (and trust me, this is just about 1/4 of the shots I took - the rest stay in my personal collection...):

Stay tuned this week as I wrap up my Comic-Con coverage (finally, I know...) with interviews, pics, interviews, pics and oh yeah, the drunken events at two industry parties...

Source: JoBlo.com



Latest Entertainment News Headlines