The movie maker McG (Joseph McGinty Nichol, 40) has a lot on his shoulders this weekend. He's opening his spin on the Terminator franchise, Terminator Salvation. There are fans. And critics ("Robotic," panned The Hollywood Reporter) and box-office expectations.
And then there was that Christian Bale on-set blowup that made it onto the Internet last year. But the perpetually upbeat director of Charlie's Angels and We Are Marshall is rolling with it. We caught up with him by cell in Manhattan.
Answer: Working with the TALENTED Christian Bale was tops. Putting him through his paces was a close second. He's a physical guy. He can handle it! An intense guy. He doesn't flinch.
Q: How hard was back-engineering a movie that comes before the other movies, in a way?
A: There's only six hours of films to pay attention to (the Sarah Connor Chronicles TV show didn't figure). So that's not rocket science. You see what's there and you get out to tell a story of the "Dark Ages," the period after Judgment Day, but before 2029, which is when the T-800 came back, through time, in the first picture to chase around Sarah Connor. We set our story in 2018 and got to show all the hardware that Skynet had developed to crush humanity with by then. We wanted to honor the source material, the mythology, but begin again. I was inspired by Christopher Nolan's reinvention of Batman and Daniel Craig's new take on the Bond franchise. You adhere to rules, but you invent new ones.
I am fascinated, too, by the idea of these films, that those things which make us great are our undoing. Jake LaMotta being great at being violent. It makes him the champ in Raging Bull, but it almost destroys him. Robert Oppenheimer was just eaten up by the knowledge that he'd built the atomic bomb. THAT's what these movies are about. In an automated world where our Prius speeds up or slows down without our command, it's worth thinking about.
Q: We all heard stories about the fights on the Charlie's Angels set. And on this one, there's a Christian Bale blow-up over the camera work. Is the connection here that's it's all YOUR fault?
A: Ha ha ha! Totally! I run a very fiery set. I find it offensive to the audience if actors sleep their way through takes and just do what you tell them to do. I like to challenge the actors, get their blood up. Occasionally, things happen, they get taken out of context, get on the Internet, and it's a black eye for Hollywood. But entirely my fault!
Director McG fascinated with 'our undoing' in Terminator Salvation
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