Paul W.S. Anderson Poster

Quotes (20)

  • I don't think it would be possible for me to respect people like Ridley Scott or James Cameron more than I already do. They're gods of filmmaking.
  • AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004) is not trying to be Alien (1979) or Aliens (1986), and it's not trying to be Predator (1987). Those are genius movies. The impact that these creatures had on audiences was immense. But 26 years on, and dozens of comic books later, everyone knows what the Alien looks like. You've got to do something different with it, and make a slightly different movie. So, in a way, we were definitely making an Alien and a Predator movie, but a different one from the one the other directors had made.
  • If you work with a subject matter beloved by a hardcore fan base, then there's going to be a huge amount of discussion of what you've got wrong or right. In some ways you can never please overly obsessive fans, it's just impossible.
  • [on casting Kit Harington in Pompeii (2014)] I was a huge fan of Kit from Game of Thrones (2011). He was the one person that I felt really popped in the show, he really stood out from the rest of ensemble. Kit certainly looks like a movie star. I met him and was very impressed. But at that time, he wasn't quite the gladiator that we needed for the movie. But he assured me that he would get there and he became very disciplined and focused on getting that perfect physique -- the gladiatorial physique, which is what you see in the movie. He looks awesome.
  • [on the production sets of Event Horizon (1997)] It took over nine sound-stages at Pinewood Studios in London to shoot the film. Because most of the movie is set on the ship, they had to construct a huge labyrinthine space that one could walk through for days and days and not enter the same room. You could be alone in there and there could be someone else with you, and you wouldn't meet them for a week unless you knew exactly where they were. We really wanted to emphasize that scale, and the best way to do that was to build sets which really conveyed that idea.
  • [on design concept of Event Horizon (1997)] We took a lot of medieval architecture, like fledged pillars and recessed windows and also the idea of triptychs from churches, and we incorporated that into very modern spaceship design. In fact, we started to design the ship itself by scanning Notre Dame cathedral into the computer, and then we built our spaceship as elements of that cathedral, but rendering it in metal instead of stone. The Event Horizon is built in the shape of a crucifix, which is the way all cathedrals are built. While a cathedral would normally have a gargoyle hanging over the top, we have an antenna cluster, but it has the same feeling as a gargoyle. All throughout the ship's steel superstructure, the pattern for the steel is taken from stained-glass windows. When you're in it, you really feel like you're in a religious place -- something quite old and scary, yet also quite new and futuristic.
  • [on leading part of the Jurassic Park (1993) star, Sam Neill, in Event Horizon (1997)] Before you saw any dinosaur, you saw his face -- the way he reacted -- which made you believe in them before they appeared on the screen. It was important to me that his character could do that here too, because he created the ship. There are many scenes where he's staring out a window at his creation, to convey this huge spaceship that he built and is seeing for the first time in seven years. He was a complete joy to work with. We put him through absolute hell. He would be wearing prosthetics that would require eight hours of application time, and would be coming in at 2 a.m. to have this stuff put on -- and never once complained.
  • When I was a kid, Doctor Who (1963) was on every Saturday at teatime. And I was terrified of the Daleks. I would watch from behind the sofa in our living room, looking through my fingers. But I couldn't bear not to watch. I was probably watching with one eye half-obscured by one finger, but I was still watching it. That's kind of what I want the audiences who see my movies to do. I don't want them to turn away fully because I don't want them to disengage.
  • You don't want the audience to react so much that it takes them out of the movie or takes them out of their suspension of disbelief. In Event Horizon (1997), there's a scene where Kathleen Quinlan gets a medical bag and she sees a vision of her child back on Earth. You've seen him in a wheelchair earlier, but this time, in her vision, you see that his legs are all withered and covered in sores, and it's really powerful. Then there's a jump-scare right afterwards -- Jason Isaacs appears behind Kathleen, and people are like, Ahhh! It's, I think, an effective scene. Now, the audience had an even bigger reaction in the original cut, because when we first tested it, you could see the withered legs and the sores, but then you could also see the legs were covered in writhing maggots. It grossed the audience out. They were like, Ohhh God, ughhh! But what I realized was it grossed them out so much that when Jason Isaacs turned up behind her, no one was surprised or shocked, because they had ceased to engage with the film. So you can give them too much sensation and take them out of the movie. So I took the maggots out, and you just saw the legs, and it became a much more effective and scary scene because of that.
  • [on scientific reasoning for some scenes of Event Horizon (1997)] We wanted to stay relatively true to what we thought it could be like in 50 years' time, so we looked at NASA's designs for their space station and Super Shuttle, and then we projected from there on-wards. And when the rescue crew is sent out to Neptune, we make a big deal about how far it is, how few people have made it that far before and how hard a mission it is to get there. We really tried to play that out, so we had actors in space suits that weighed 150 pounds, and they found it really difficult to move in them. I thought that was good -- they really conveyed the sense that to be an astronaut in the future is not easy. And there's no gravity when our crew first boards the Event Horizon, so we built a lot of sets that were upside down, for the characters to drift through or walk on the ceiling. We tried to do what 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) did, which is tell a sci-fi story, but try and make it science fact rather than science fantasy. We wanted to start with characters who believe in science, and then they encounter something which science cannot explain, something more primeval and more religious. So, the people who put their faith in science are eventually encountering the spiritual, and they cannot really deal with it. I think a man from 200 years ago would be able to deal a lot better with meeting the Devil than somebody would now.
  • Making movies allows me to do things I can't normally do. I get to go to outer space, blow things up, be a real hero. It's just like being a kid. It's make-believe.
  • I'm satisfied with the success of Mortal Kombat (1995). I can't imagine that movie having done better. I always thought that it was a great idea for a film. When we were making it, most people were skeptical. Other adaptations of video games hadn't done well. Double Dragon (1994), Street Fighter (1994) and Super Mario Bros. (1993) were all commercial and artistic flops, but my impression was that they were simply rotten movies.
  • What scares every individual person in the audience is something slightly different, so if you can leave a slight ambiguity, you can let their own fear work on themselves, let people stew in their own fizz. You show them a little bit, and they imagine something much more terrifying than what you could actually put on screen. To me, that is the ultimate in a scary movie now, because people have become immune to monsters with teeth and men with knives.
  • [on leading part of Laurence Fishburne in Event Horizon (1997)] A great actor! It was a big thrill to have him as the captain of the salvage crew. In fact, if I ever have to go to war, I would like him to be my commanding officer. He inspires such confidence!
  • For me, the real epiphany came the first time I saw a proper movie play in America. When you watch movies in Britain, the reaction when people hate a movie is... they just politely get up and leave at the end. And when they love a movie... they just politely get up and leave at the end. You can't tell whether they hated your movie or loved it. But when I was a student, I spent some time traveling in America on an exchange program. One day I went to see Arnold Schwarzenegger's Total Recall (1990) in Times Square on opening weekend, and it was a revelation for me. Remember that scene where Sharon Stone tries to kill Arnold, and he wrestles the gun off her, and she says, "You wouldn't kill me, I'm your wife"? At that point, these two women beside me stood up and screamed at the screen, "Kill the bitch! Shoot her in the head!" And then when he goes, "Consideh dis a divooohce" and shoots her, the whole audience erupted! They were so happy! You literally couldn't hear the next scene's dialogue at all. I realized that that was the kind of movie that I wanted to make -- popular entertainment. Now I watch all of my movies with an audience, and you know if you've done your job as a filmmaker when people cheer when they're supposed to, when they laugh when they're supposed to, when they have a great time.
  • [on the burning man in Event Horizon (1997)] This guy is walking around and blazing, completely on fire, but unlike how it's traditionally done in movies -- where you do a full body burn on somebody, and after a while the bulk of his clothes are burning because the guy has to wear a protective suit -- this man is naked. He's walking around with his flesh and hair and eyebrows on fire, and he's completely oblivious to it. He's talking and pointing and holding a conversation. It looks fantastic!
  • I've always felt that there's a lot of similarity between doing a comedy and doing a scary movie because jokes and scares are all about timing. If you give the punch line too early or too late, the joke falls flat. And it's the same with a scare. You can deliver it too early. If you make the tension too long, the audience is like, Get the fuck out of here, we're over it! There's a moment where the jump is correct, and you have to deliver. It's a very precise thing, and it's the same as comic timing.
  • The weakness of many sci-fi movies for me is that they often have a terrible story to go with the great visuals, FX and action. It's almost a must to take stories from other genres and bring them into a sci-fi context.
  • [on script of Event Horizon (1997) written by Philip Eisner] I watch a lot of sci-fi and I read a lot of scripts, and it's very rare for me to find something this original, a script that takes me by surprise. (September 1997)
  • My first movie that came out -- Shopping (1994), a British movie starring Jude Law and Sadie Frost -- there were certain journalists in the U.K. who just eviscerated that movie. They hated it, hated everything about it. But it was also financially successful for Channel 4, and it was kind of an important film for the industry at the time, sort of the start of a new wave: Without Shopping (1994), there might not have been Shallow Grave (1994) or Trainspotting (1996) or those more commercial movies that were aimed at younger audience. At the time, one journalist in particular just laid into Shopping (1994) so brutally. Ten years later, he wrote about the movie and about its place in British film history and how it had started this new wave of British youth film, and he was very complimentary about the look of it, the style of it, how it started Jude Law's career and what an asset he was to the industry. This is the same person who did a complete hatchet job on the same movie ten years ago. So, the reviews -- if they're bad, it doesn't mean they're going to be bad forever.