EXCLUSIVE: Mark Millar Talks JUPITER'S LEGACY Movie; Wants Richard Dreyfuss To Star
Ahead of the release of Jupiter's Legacy #1 this week, we managed to catch up with writer Mark Millar to ask him how work is progressing on the planned movie version, who he has in mind to direct and star, and whether he envisions the big screen adaptation taking place over more than one film. Check it out!
With Kick-Ass 2 set to be released this summer, Nemesis, Supercrooks, The Secret Service and Wanted 2 are all in various stages of development in their respective journey's to the big screen. It now appears as if we should add Jupiter's Legacy to that list as writer Mark Millar (who has created the book alongside artist Frank Quitely) offers us an exclusive update as to what's going on with a movie version of the upcoming Image series. Millar also reveals that he would like to see Richard Dreyfuss play 'Walter', and while he makes it clear that there haven't been any talks with the actor as of yet, the writer is sure to make this happen (take Mark Hamill's planned appearance in Matthew Vaughn's take on The Secret Service for example). Perhaps most interesting is the fact that he envisions the adaptation taking place across more than one movie...
What can you tell us about the current status of a possible movie adaptation of Jupiter's Legacy?
I've purposely been holding Jupiter's Legacy back from the studios for a year now. I've been working on it since last Spring and been feeding pages to director pals and execs I'm friendly with so there's been a lot of interest, but I wanted to hold it back until I had the whole thing completely worked out. I've never immersed myself in a project like I've immersed myself in this, November and December last year, for example, being devoted entirely to a 12 issue prequel storyline I'll probably never write, but just wanted to have worked out so my flashbacks had consistency. It's actually been quite mental and my office if a pit. It really looks like, at best, Sherlock's study and, at worst, like a place Clarice Starling would burst into and find the remains of a corpse. I'm really, really into this and now I've got it all worked out I'm going to set up the movie adaptations. I didn't want anybody rushing me to finish, which is why I held it back, but now it's done and I can relax. The trick now is setting it up before somebody tries to rip us off, of course. Three different people were setting up copycat projects for The Secret Service until we got into production. One of the more shameless ones even had the characters, the the basic set-up and the wave of celebrity kidnappings being investigated. It was absolutely shocking. So yeah, it's very much in our interest to set the movie up now in May as I planned. Plus you don't get a better ad for your book than a nice Summer movie. It allows creator-owned books like ours to compete with the big multinational corporations like WB and Disney, who own DC and Marvel.
Do you have anyone in mind when it comes to a writer and director? How about the cast?
This might seem odd, especially when so many of my books get turned into movies, but I only ever think about the comic when I'm writing. To me, that's the ultimate ambition. I didn't do a screen-writing or directing course. I'm a huge movie fan, but when I was a kid I made my own comic books and this has never been a stepping stone onto something else for me. The evidence for this is that I write pretty much as many comics as I did in my Marvel years, although I maybe spend 2 hours a day with my producer commitments on the phone. When you think about the movie you just lose focus on the comic. Even Kick-Ass 3, which I'm just finishing at the moment, are little drawings to me. I never see or hear the actors like a screen-writer would. We use that age-old trick of certain actors being used as a likeness, but that's really just a continuity trick, especially for new characters and even more especially when they're not in costume. But Jupiter's Legacy was slightly different in that one actor absolutely stayed in my head the whole time I was writing Walter and that was Richard Dreyfuss. Dreyfuss I think is one of the cinematic greats. He's absolutely up there with the Pacinos, DeNiros and Nicholsons for me, but perhaps even moreso as his performances are even more nuanced and understated. He's one of those actors who makes you forget it's somebody acting and yet he still maintains a screen charisma, which I guess is what the essence of a proper movie star is. Like a lot of those guys who emerged in the 70s he's just a class act and I'm saying this purely as a fan. I have had no conversations with the guy at all, but he's absolutely who I'm going to push for to play the slightly sinister brother of the lead when I start talking to a director. This is a big, grand operatic superhero story, maybe the most ambitious one ever attempted, and it needs someone who can pull off that gravitas. He's the perfect age and the perfect look for this.
As for directors, I've got a bit of a funny situation going on. I send PDFs of great pages I get in from artists or complete books for things I'm really pleased with to lots of pals. About half of these guys are comic pals and the other half are film pals. Anyway, a bunch of these guys are quite big directors and three of them emailed at once saying they'd be very interested in doing Jupiter's Legacy as a movie. Now it's a high-end problem to have, but actually quite a difficult one socially as they're all great and all quite close friends of mine. So I don't know. One of my studio exec pals thinks this is going to be a major, major franchise so it's going to be attractive to a lot of people. It's got the potential to be really, really big. Whichever director I go with I'll just make sure it's the right guy for the material. I'm just going to lose two pals (laughs).
Jupiter's Legacy has been described as being as epic as Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. Does this mean a movie adaptation of the series would take place across more than one instalment?
Yes, definitely. I think it would be at least two to three movies. A trilogy feels about right for it as the third act in particular really needs room to breath. But who knows? Some guys are very good at condensing material when they adapt, although there really isn't any fat on this story at all. My instincts say three pictures and like all the best franchises I think they should find new people for the leads. Superheroes are more believable if we didn't see them in a hundred other things. Franchises I think also work best when the story and the characters are allowed to be the stars and the actors are simply the right people for the job. Dreyfuss is my one and only exception to this rule. Jaws, Close Encounters, the Goodbye Girl, Jupiter's Legacy. My dream is to see that on his IMDB page.
The first issue of Jupiter's Legacy goes on sale this Wednesday and my review will be online later today. Mark will be appearing in New York on Thursday at Midtown Comics' Downtown store from 7 - 9pm for a special signing, so be sure to find him there if you're in the area!
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