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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cannes 2008: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Press Conference

Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were on hand with the cast to answer questions about the film. Of course, many of the questions were directed at Ford and Spielberg, but a few were tossed to other cast members as well.

Spielberg, asked whose idea it was to revisit the franchise, said that the idea first came up when Harrison Ford said at the Academy Awards several years back that he'd be interested in wearing Indy's hat again; he noted that he was the hardest to convince that the world really wanted another Indy film. Asked whether there will be further sequels, Spielberg said that that depends on whether people want one, and that they'll keep an ear to the ground to gauge audience reaction to Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; if there's interest, though, he said there will be more to come. So, good news for all you Indy fans out there.

Ford was asked whether he fears critical reaction to the film. He smirked and replied that, look, this is a popular film, and we know that with a film like this, a certain critical element will be negative to that, it's expected. He said that he doesn't pay attention to those critics, and that a film like this is made not for film critics, but for the people who will buy the tickets. Those people, not critics, are his audience, they are who he makes movies for.

Cate Blanchett and Ford were asked if, at a festival like Cannes, there is pressure to put on the "star attitude." Blanchett replied that she takes her cues from Ford on that; he said simply that he doesn't really know what a "star attitude" is, that he thinks of himself not as a star, but as just a movie actor with a job to do.

Shia LeBeouf was asked what the most difficult stunts were in the films; he answered that the jeep chase sequence was tough because it was grueling and shot over several days, but that the motorcycle chase scene (his character has Indy on the back of a motorcycle as they are being chased across the college campus by KGB agents) was the hardest though, because if he made one wrong move and Ford got hurt, "that would be the end of the movie."

Asked about the Cold War elements of the film, Spielberg noted that the film is set in 1957; we've transitioned out of World War 2 and Nazis, and now there's a new enemy for Indiana to go up against. He talked a bit about a scene in the film where Indy is seen, in his hat, silhouetted against a mushroom cloud, and felt that scene in particular sets the time and the tone and adds depth to the film. He talked about growing up in the Cold War era under the threat of communism and nuclear bombs, of air raid drills and fear, and said that this is the mood on which the film is based.

Blanchett was asked how it felt to finally get to be in an Indiana Jones film; she replied that she'd always wanted to be one of the ladies in the Indy films, but that when she couldn't convince Spielberg to make her a heroine, she was delighted to take on the challenge of playing a villain with a great haircut. She also laughingly apologized to Russian fans of the film for her Russian accent in the film.

Lucas and Spielberg talked about the decision to screen the film at Cannes simultaneously with press screenings around the world, saying they felt that it was both more fun and more fair to allow all the press to see the film at once, rather than the usual layered screenings which give certain "elite" press earlier access to films than others.

One journalist slipped in a question about Tintin, which Spielberg will direct with Peter Jackson producing. He said he'd not even been aware of Tintin as a material until he saw critics writing about it, but that it's a great property for a film franchise. He confirmed that there will be three films based on three of the Tintin books (though he wouldn't reveal which ones) and that they'll be shot with motion capture.

Spielberg was asked about the theft of film stills from the set, and how they managed to keep the storyline mostly under wraps. It was pretty obvious he's still angered by that event, but he said simply that yes, it's true the stills were stolen, that they were stills from basically the first two-thirds of the film, which "some website" (he wouldn't talk directly about which one) got ahold of them, and that they had to shut them down from publishing the stills and spoiling the film. Beyond that, he said they kept things under wraps by making sure only certain key people had the full script and keeping it out of the hands of the talent's agents and PR people, and by just not talking about it.

George Lucas, asked about the Crystal Skull and whether he really believes in the legend, noted that all the Indy films have legendary artifacts with supposed supernatural powers, it's part of the franchise, and that "I don't have to believe in them, I just have to believe that there are people out there who believe in them."

On the subject of special effects and use of CGI, Spielberg said that he prefers to shoot his films on actual sets, that they have had excellent art directors for all the Indy films, and that it's very difficult for any actors to act realistically against nothing but a blue screen. Ford was asked whether he really did his own stunts; he replied that "I don't do stunts, I do physical acting" and that the facial expressions of the character are just as important as the action in conveying the meaning of those scenes. He said that if a scene could not be set up by the stunt team such that it was something he could realistically do, it wasn't done.

The question of how much of the film is hard-scripted versus improvisation came up; Spielberg said that they have the entire thing storyboarded out, but that he always leaves room for improv in there, as the set is "very collaborative." He said that Ford might have an idea about how to shoot a particular scene, or Blanchett about how to play the villain, or Allen might want to add a line that she feels Marian Ravenwood would say, and that he likes to keep open for that, see what happens, and use what works.

Ford and Allen were asked what it was like to work with Spielberg again after 20 years; Ford noted that, as good a director as Spielberg was when they shot the first Indiana Jones, he's even more of a genius now, he completely trusts him as a director, and he's "a genius.",18/5/2008,written by Kim Voynar

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