First came the pictures, now the words. Now that we've all seen the trailers for Jake Gyllenhaal's Prince of Persia, we're getting to hear from Jerry Bruckheimer, the movie's producer, and Jordan Mechner, who created the PoP video game.
From a transcript of the Jordan Mechner Q and A:
Q: The casting of Jake Gyllenhaal seemed to upset some people. What did you think of his performance, and what aspects of the prince does he bring out well?
JM: That kind of gets back to "who is the prince?" To me—and this goes back to the original game—to me, the Prince of Persia has always been a hero in the mold of Errol Flynn in Robin Hood, or Doug Fairbanks in The Thief of Baghdad, or Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. He's not this invincible warrior who is out looking for enemies to vanquish. He's more of an underdog. He fights with a sword, but he lives by his wits. He's got this sort of mischievous quality, this certain attitude and humor about him, and a vulnerability as well. You can see why the girl falls in love with him. I think Jake embodies all those qualities and captures them in a really appealing way. I think that comes through in the trailer as well. The action-hero side of the role, Jake took that very seriously. He did a lot of training, horseback riding, sword fighting, parkour, and he actually did a lot of his own stunts to a degree that movie stars usually don't. He's in fantastic shape, he worked really hard, so I think he makes a great Prince of Persia.
People who've never played the game - like me - might wonder if that will interfere with the enjoyment of the movie. Mechner doesn't think so:
Q: It's not a film that you would've had to have played the games to appreciate?
JM: Prince of Persia is a movie that I think can stand on its own without reference to the game. If you played the game, that can deepen your enjoyment of it on certain levels, but it's absolutely a movie for non-gamers as well. Jerry and Mike Newell have never seen this as a video game movie. A lot of what appealed to them about it was the chance to re-imagine this amazing world of One Thousand and One Nights with a level of technology and visual effects that's never been possible before. The last time Hollywood did a big A-level Arabian Nights movie was probably 1940, The Thief of Baghdad. I think it's a genre that's ready to be reinvented and the fact that Prince of Persia was a successful video game I think really helped. I'm really thrilled that Prince of Persia, this game I did 20 years ago on the Apple II, which was inspired by movies, could in its turn, become the vehicle to revisit this great genre, this world of One Thousand and One Nights.
Now here's a terrible idea!
Q: If they were to do a sequel for the film, do you think it would be more appropriate for them to have a different prince and different setting like the games, or just stick with this prince?
JM: That would be like turning forward the sands of time (laughter). I can't do that. The power of visions is only in the game.
This is the prince, people!
JoBlo has questions and answers from both Mechner and Bruckheimer. The reporter was excited and very positive about the movie:
We were told that the film recently scored as well as PIRATES OF the CARRIBEAN with test audiences. Bruckheimer seemed surprised that the film did really well with women. Epic romance in an ancient land...a shirtless Jake Gyllenhaal...yeeeah, I'm shocked too.
Really? What on earth could all those women be excited about?
From Coming Soon: Q: What makes this game translate well to screen?
Bruckheimer: I think it's the fact that it's so different than anything that's in the marketplace. You look at all the "Spider-Man's" and all the stuff that's coming out, "Iron Man" and all these "Transformers." This is so unique, so fresh and different. We just loved the character that Jordan created. So it takes you back to old ancient periods. The movie when you see it, it's like an old-fashioned, romantic adventure film. That's really what it is. It's like a "Lawrence of Arabia" with this kind of supernatural element added to it. But it's really a wonderful biblical story about jealousy. It goes back to all the primal fears and conflicts through history, so it embellishes upon interesting things. We found, we tested the movie a few weeks ago. It tested extraordinarily high. It surprised me because I always think these things are going to fail but this one turned out great. The women, I was surprised, I thought we made a terrific movie for the boys , but the women flipped over this film. I've never had a score where the parents, and there is violence, it's PG-13, the parents rated the film 100% excellent or very good which never happens. So it's one of these movies that we know they'll take their children to go see it which is a huge advantage for a film if the parents think it's cool that the kids can see it.
Some insight into the effects process:
What had to be developed to create all those visual effects with the sands of time and the sands of the collapsing temple?
Bruckheimer: What you do is you start with storyboards. Of course, it starts in Jordan's mind and the writers, and we give it to our production designer, and he takes it to another step and he takes it to the artists, and they start drawing things. [For] what we draw, we create animatics, you know, visual representations, what Jordan does. How he starts his games. And then we start embellishing. We do tests, embellishing on things we see and like. Create layers. Like the first time we did the dagger. Pushing the dagger into the sand. There was nothing going through his body. We just looked at a rough scene and stayed there. We started using the sand and the electricity going through his body...so you keep layering it. When you see the movie in theaters, it will be more layers than what you've seen just now. Because we just didn't have time...
Can you talk about the casting of Jake and just kind of what you saw in him that made him the right choice?
Bruckheimer: I always thought he was...I still think he is a true movie star...the guy is going to be a huge romantic hero. He's handsome. He's a wonderful actor. I always wanted to work with him. We got very lucky that he liked the material and he wanted to do it. There was no other choice. I mean, he was the guy that we went after.
Can you talk about some of the physical training he had to go through?
Bruckheimer: A lot! He really worked hard He worked for months. Before the movie started. He trained every single day. He rode bikes, he lifted weights, he had a very specific diet. He couldn't eat any fats. It was really a lot of protein, and all during filming he was working out. In one hundred and twenty degree heat. Jordan said he saw him after a long day, at seven at night, taking a jog. Running. So he kept it up through the whole thing. He had a trainer with him. Both here and in Morocco. And when we were filming in London, he wanted to make sure he kept his physical characteristics the way he wanted them to be.
Yikes - remember that daily regimen Jake was on? It definitely paid off, but I can't imagine doing it for a week, let alone months.
Mechner: At the end of my first day on set, driving back to base camp, I saw him jogging. After this long day of 125 degree heat, he went for a jog. He had more muscles than his stunt doubles.
Now if we could just get Lionsgate to do some Brothers promotion... Even Sesame Street is promoting Jake! Well, okay, they are promoting their 40th season, but you get a glimpse of Jake in this preview:
(Screen caps courtesy of IHJ.)