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Byzantium Director Neil Jordan

FILM DIRECTOR


From 2013 – Neil Jordan returns to the world of vampires in his new film Byzantium. Being no stranger there as he directed Interview With A Vampire with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt back in 1994. But this time, his vampires are women played by Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan. We chatted about this new project.


From 2013 – Neil Jordan returns to the world of vampires in his new film Byzantium. Being no stranger there as he directed Interview With A Vampire with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt back in 1994. But this time, his vampires are women played by  Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan. We chatted about this new project.

Official Synopsis: Two mysterious women seek refuge in a run-down coastal resort. Clara meets lonely Noel, who provides shelter in his deserted guesthouse, Byzantium. Schoolgirl Eleanor befriends Frank and tells him their lethal secret. They were born 200 years ago and survive on human blood. As knowledge of their secret spreads, their past catches up on them with deathly consequence.

Tony Tellado: It’s a pleasure to speak with you. With your version of Interview With A Vampire and In The Company Of Wolves, you took the horror genre to a new level.

Neil Jordan: Thank You.

TT: This could be a real gem as well.

Neil Jordan: Thank You. Thank you very much.

TT: The cord the film strikes with me like Louis and Lestat is the relationship between the vampire that makes another vampire but this time it’s two women. And I think that’s a powerful way to tell the story.

NJ: It’s kind of like a female equivalent of Louis and Lestat isn’t it ? That’s part of what attracted me to it actually. One is unwilling, the other is willing. One is full of guilt, the other full of blood lust. I didn’t write the script. Maybe the writer had seen Interview With A Vampire and was influenced by that.

TT: What’s interesting is that one is full of compassion and the other is full of vengeance and a little more dispassionate too. Like Louis and Lestat, they are on opposite ends on how they view their prey.

NJ: But thank God, little Eleanor (Ronan) didn’t have to eat rats.  (Laughs)

TT: The casting process, you got great cast with actors that are on their way up. Gemma is amazing in this and Saoirse, everything that she does lately has been spectacular.

NJ: She’s amazing. They’re both amazing aren’t they ? They’re both amazing in totally different ways. Saoirse has sublteness and quietude…watchfulness and Gemma is all sensual immediate energy, physicallity and straight up emotion. It was really fascinating working with the two of them.

TT: I also have to mention Caleb Landry Jones (Frank) and Sam Reilly (Darvell), two young actors whom I’ve been watching a lot in very good films.

NJ: They are good aren’t they. I was lucky enough. It was that kind of script that seemed to attract people.Caleb read for himself and sent me a video.And I saw this reading from this and was amazed. I didn’t realize from the reading that he was the same guy that was in X-Men (First Class) . He came over and was so passionate about the part. He’s a great talent, Caleb.

Gemma Arterton in BYZANTIUM.

TT: I love the way you approach vampires. And what you did in this film and also Interview, is you use their existance to comment our humanity or maybe our lack of humanity.

NJ: If you take away the fact they may or may not fly or have superpowers or whatever. The interesting thing is they consume other people’s lives and they live forever. I’ve been lucky enough. Interview With A Vampire, the movie was about that. How do you deal with eternity ? The briliant thing that Ann Rice wrote. Particulary, if your mother never lets you finish your schooling. They’re interesting questions. In a strange way, when you examine the question what it means to live forever.We know it’s an impossibilty. You kind of examine the question what does it mean to live at all ? What does it mean to spend a day or a lifetime ?

TT: One thing you handle extremely well is the period piece aspect of the film. You did so well in Vampire and in this one as well.

NJ: Thank You.One of the things that drew me to the screenplay was that half of it was in the present and half was in the past.What was lovely was shooting the seaside town and re-creating it as it would have been in the 18th century.

Tony Tellado: It’s a pleasure to speak with you. With your version of Interview With A Vampire and In The Company Of Wolves, you took the horror genre to a new level.

Neil Jordan: Thank You.

TT: This could be a real gem as well.

Neil Jordan: Thank You. Thank you very much.

TT: The cord the film strikes with me like Louis and Lestat is the relationship between the vampire that makes another vampire but this time it’s two women. And I think that’s a powerful way to tell the story.

Tony Tellado: It’s a pleasure to speak with you. With your version of Interview With A Vampire and In The Company Of Wolves, you took the horror genre to a new level.

Neil Jordan: Thank You.

TT: This could be a real gem as well.

Neil Jordan: Thank You. Thank you very much.

TT: The cord the film strikes with me like Louis and Lestat is the relationship between the vampire that makes another vampire but this time it’s two women. And I think that’s a powerful way to tell the story.

NJ: It’s kind of like a female equivalent of Louis and Lestat isn’t it ? That’s part of what attracted me to it actually. One is unwilling, the other is willing. One is full of guilt, the other full of blood lust. I didn’t write the script. Maybe the writer had seen Interview With A Vampire and was influenced by that.

TT: What’s interesting is that one is full of compassion and the other is full of vengeance and a little more dispassionate too. Like Louis and Lestat, they are on opposite ends on how they view their prey.

NJ: But thank God, little Eleanor (Ronan) didn’t have to eat rats.  (Laughs)

TT: The casting process, you got great cast with actors that are on their way up. Gemma is amazing in this and Saoirse, everything that she does lately has been spectacular.

NJ: She’s amazing. They’re both amazing aren’t they ? They’re both amazing in totally different ways. Saoirse has sublteness and quietude…watchfulness and Gemma is all sensual immediate energy, physicallity and straight up emotion. It was really fascinating working with the two of them.

TT: I also have to mention Caleb Landry Jones (Frank) and Sam Reilly (Darvell), two young actors whom I’ve been watching a lot in very good films.

NJ: They are good aren’t they. I was lucky enough. It was that kind of script that seemed to attract people.Caleb read for himself and sent me a video.And I saw this reading from this and was amazed. I didn’t realize from the reading that he was the same guy that was in X-Men (First Class) . He came over and was so passionate about the part. He’s a great talent, Caleb.

TT: I love the way you approach vampires. And what you did in this film and also Interview, is you use their existance to comment our humanity or maybe our lack of humanity.

NJ: If you take away the fact they may or may not fly or have superpowers or whatever. The interesting thing is they consume other people’s lives and they live forever. I’ve been lucky enough. Interview With A Vampire, the movie was about that. How do you deal with eternity ? The briliant thing that Ann Rice wrote. Particulary, if your mother never lets you finish your schooling. They’re interesting questions. In a strange way, when you examine the question what it means to live forever.We know it’s an impossibilty. You kind of examine the question what does it mean to live at all ? What does it mean to spend a day or a lifetime ?

TT: One thing you handle extremely well is the period piece aspect of the film. You did so well in Vampire and in this one as well.

NJ: Thank You.One of the things that drew me to the screenplay was that half of it was in the present and half was in the past.What was lovely was shooting the seaside town and re-creating it as it would have been in the 18th century.

GEMMA
Byzantium Still

NJ:  The town we used was a town called Hastings just down the road from another town called Margate.W.M. Turner painted all these amazing seascapes there.You look at them and see this kind of beauty of the past coastline.You look at it now and it’s full of all these crappy hotels and houses.So that kind of strange sense of loss that you get when you imagine what the past must have been like instead of the grim and forbidding present.It enabled me to examine that.

TT: Visually. some great memorable images including the scene where Gemma is bathing in the waterfall and it’s red with blood.Was that something that you wanted to incorporate into the film.

NJ: Absolutely. That was actually something that just came up.In the screenplay She (Moira Buffini) she had written that you get turned into a vampire by going to Asia Minor. Istanbul or somewhere in modern day Turkey.You kind of go through an ancient Abyssinian graveyard and something strange happens with a snake that is dropped out of an eagle’s claws.It was interesting but kind of impossible to stage.I said to Moira, “Let’s situate it in the west of Ireland.”..these magical islands off the southwest coast with these very early Christian kind of ruins almost pagan ruins. I came up with that.They row to this island with this strange stone hut.There was this magnificent waterfall there.We decided as you turn into a vampire, the waterfall itself turns red.That imagery just grew really.

TT: You could see that transformation occurring.If you look back at Interview With A Vampire to get the performance out of Kirsten Dunst to play a woman in a little girl’s body was amazing.

NJ: She was a little girl but she was a fully formed actress.Believe me.It was like she had this fully formed sensibility in this tiny girl’s body. But she’s made all these kind of teen movies as she’s grown up.She seems to have become younger than she was in Interview With A Vampire.Until I saw her in Meloncholia, the Lars Van Tier film.I thought she was incredible in that.

Ronan2

TT: And I liked her in Upside Down too.Do you have anything that you’re planning now ?

NJ: Yes. I’m trying to make a ghost story.I’ve written one and I’m trying to get the money.I’m trying to make it before the end of the year. But I’m not sure if I’ll suceed.It may carry over into next year.

TT: You have certainly done Vampires and Werewolves in a unique way. I’d love to see what you do with ghosts.The film industry is changing with online films, On Demand. How do you view all that change ? Is that going to change how you make films ?

NJ: It’s a drag. One of the three nicest things to do in a city.One is wonder into a book shop.The other used to be wonder to a record shop and thumb through all these albums.And it used to be walk into a cinema.It seems like we are now denied those experiences.Filmmaking is changing in ways nobody can predict.Nobody can predict what the outcome is going to be.But at least it’s still there in some form.Let us not despair.

TT: Another film I have to give you credit for is The Crying Game.The movie still holds up.

NJ: It was one those movies that what you assumed at the beginning of the movie was not what it turned out to be at all.

PODCAST

Neil Jordan Interview

Interview with Interview With A Vampire and A Company Of Wolves director who talks about his latest Byzantium about two female vampires’ centuries long journey.

Podcast:  | Download |

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About Sci-Fi Talk (708 Articles)
Tony Tellado, Host and producer of Sci-Fi Talk, a podcast and multi-media blog on sci-fi,fantasy and horror in various mediums. copyright 2010 Si-Fi-Talk LLC

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