After first meeting James Gunn at the Nashville Screenwriters Conference, badgering him about “Tromeo & Juliet,” and slipping him this website URL, your intrepid pal Ron decided, out of the blue, to message Mr. James Gunn, world-famous screenwriter and director, and ask him for an interview.
Of course, when he actually responded to the dumbass note from MySpace user “Ron Von Killyourfamily,” I was amazed. I figured I wouldn’t get a response, and because of this, I hadn’t actually thought up any questions that weren’t retarded. Thankfully I came up with a few (or stole them from Troy, Sarah, and J.K.). My wisdom is in bold; his wisdom is in eye-catching normal text.
Firstly – my great-grandmother on my mother’s side was a Von Killyourfamily. Do you think we’re related?
It’s possible. Let me dig up a picture of the two of us side by side, and we’ll let the world be the judge.
I think there’s a definite resemblance. We both have the legendary Von Killyourfamily blurriness. Anyway, enough family reunion, let’s talk turkey.
At the Nashville Screenwriters Conference, a common thread was the idea of writing a script to work as actor bait. Generally, when you write a movie, do you have specific actors in mind for your characters?
No. Almost never. Sometimes I’ll write for friends who will actually be in the movie — such as the role of Alien Orphan for my brother Sean in “The Specials.” I considered Michael Rooker for Grant Grant when I was writing “SLiTHER,” but I didn’t actually write it for him. I think when you use a script for actor bait, you have to be sure to write great characters that people want to play. I think that’s how a script as actor bait works.
You have a graduate degree, and I dropped out of graduate school. Do you find having your Masters has been a positive development in terms of your writing abilities and getting your foot in the door?
In terms of my writing abilities, probably. I was focused exclusively on writing while I was in school. In terms of getting my foot in the door, it didn’t help very much, no.
In “Slither,” having Jack MacReady (Gregg Henry) go off about not having a Mr. Pibb really connected with our reviewer J.K. It showed that these were real people in a very unreal situation. How important is it to you to include natural occurrences such as this in the fantastical films like you make?
Completely. In the bits of dialogue, in the character reactions. I want to believe my people are people, no matter how outlandish the situation.
And thus ends the educational portion of our evening. Now it’s time for the fun stuff! James, I heard you have an Uwe Boll story. Instead of me recounting it third-hand, would you mind recounting it for our readers second-hand? LC ace reviewer Sarah has an inappropriate love for Uwe Boll’s “House of the Dead,” (and she’s going to be an extra in his upcoming disasterpiece “Postal) and it’d make her day to hear it recounted here, where it can be done proper justice.
I think all of the fans of “House of the Dead” are extras in “Postal.” That’s why you see the same three extras in every scene. Do I have an Uwe Boll story? I’ve met him a couple times. He is a perfectly pleasant guy. I also know that he got into the water and saved a drowning dog out of the river in Romania while shooting “Bloodrayne.” Then he adopted it. I’m a dog lover, so anyone who does that can’t be all bad.
That would be the Uwe Boll story. I must confess, the first time I heard it, I was sure that Uwe was going to eat the dog at the end.
Being so readily available on MySpace, do you get a lot of people harassing you to check out their sites and movies (or is it just me)?
I get people asking me ALL TYPES of things on MySpace, some of which are hard to believe. But, overall, people on MySpace are remarkably pleasant. It is a much more positive atmosphere than some other sites. I think I’ve only received 2 hate mails on MySpace since I first logged on. Of course, I go under the name “Grant Grant” and people have to do some searching to even know it’s me.
Not anymore! Your secret has been revealed to all 100 readers of this website!
Speaking of hate mail, You’ve mentioned before that you’ve gotten more than your fair share of nasty letters thanks to “Dawn of the Dead.” What are some of the best pieces of hate mail you’ve gotten?
These are real quotes from some emails I got when it was announced I was writing the remake:
”You’re another one of those guys i could fill a few a freaken swimming pool that wants or has taken a movie that was incredible.”
”you’re just some guy that evolved from being in diapers that wants to steal his shit and ruin it.”
“You have not decency and no love for the genere…”
“…people like me whom you may have been at one time hate…”
“Look, Dawn is like a second nature to me…”
I must admit, the comments gave me pause. ‘Hm,’ I thought. ‘It is true. I was evolved from being in diapers. Maybe I’m not the right man for the job.’ And, yes it pained me to admit it but a few of me could fill a freaken swimming pool. However, in the end, I forged on despite these great thinkers.
You’re a man of many talents screenwriter, novelist, actor, producer, director is there anything you WOULDN’T do? If you could act with/write for/direct anyone, who would they be and why?
I don’t think much about this. But I would love to work with Rhett Miller, the lead singer of the Old 97’s at some point. I think he’s a fantastic songwriting talent. I would also love to get some of my heroes to do small roles – Alice Cooper, Elvis Costello, Stephen King. These people all affected my life growing up. I’ve met them all, but I’d love to work with them on something at some point.
Seeing the success and controversy you’ve had with your reimagining of “Dawn of the Dead,” would you be willing to ever ‘reimagine’ another film in the future, and if so, what film or films would you choose?
Yes, I would consider a couple. There aren’t too many. But a couple light my wick a bit. I can’t discuss now, because I’m actually in the process of considering.
What do you think about the state of American horror, seeing as how the abominable “Phat Girlz” managed to outgross “Slither”? What’s the future of horror? Would you prefer the gory, ultra-sadistic, or the old-school suspenseful horror?
Well, I like all types of horror, just like I like all types of films, depending on whether they’re well made or not. I think the first “Saw” was great, and I like “Hostel” a whole lot. But there are a few of them that just suck shit. The state of American horror is Iffy.
What was the last film that scared you so bad it kept you up at night?
I don’t remember the last film that kept me up at night. I was probably pretty young – it was probably either the re-release of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” the first “Hellraiser,” or “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.” Those three movies seriously fucked me up, after I was in my teens. Other than that, I don’t get scared too easily. Strangely, there were a couple of frightening moments in “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.” That film was one of the only movies that creeped me out over the past couple years — and it was PG-13!
Speaking of “Henry,” is Michael Rooker as scary as he looks?
Hardly. He’s a muscle bound puppy dog. He’s the sweetest guy around.
On the topic of puppy dogs and Michael Rooker, if you were to complete the Doo trilogy, would you craft a tale such as “Scrappy: Portrait of a Serial Killer”?
Believe it or not, I actually wrote an outline for SD3 that I liked an awful lot. But I just don’t have the energy to keep going with it once again. But it’s not just Scooby. I won’t do DOTD 2 either. Sometimes you just reach your limit, no matter how much money they offer you.
“SLiTHER” failed to have any nude scenes for Elizabeth Banks. Is there any way this can be fixed in the DVD release?
Only if they insert the footage from the hidden camera I put in Elizabeth‘s trailer. I heard there were legal issues with this, however.
To get you out of the doghouse, I’ll praise your lovely wife, Jenna Fischer from “The Office” (which you should all be watching because it is EXCELLENT) and ask if you and your wife going to collaborate on more projects after the positive reception given to “LolliLove?”
Maybe. Who knows. It could happen. But it would have to be an idea that would drive us to do it, and we don’t have one of those right now. Part of the fun of “LolliLove” was making jokes about stuff that is taboo. You can really only do that once. To do it again would be sort of repetitive.
You said in your FAQ’s that you don’t do every interview you’re offered anymore. Does that mean I’m so awesome you just had to jump at the chance to answer my stupid questions?
Or more like I was in a pleasant mood when you wrote. Or also you went to Nashville. Personal contact is always an incentive. And you were polite. And we might be related.
Have you ever visited LivingCorpse.com, and if not, will you visit us now that your reputation is forever stained by your association with us? Here’s your chance to really rip into us.
Really? I heard that everyone who does an interview with LC is automatically blessed with good luck and fertility? Hm. Yes, I visited it. It’s a great site. I love the Care Bears section. Right site, yes?
Touché, Mr. Gunn! Now our secret is revealed: we love the fucking Care Bears. And we love fucking the Care Bears, too. There’s just something about ramming your turgid love missle into loosely-packed cotton that is just heavenly. …but maybe I’ve said too much?
James Gunn Link Bukkake:
The Official James Gunn Website
IMDB: James Gunn
MySpace: James Gunn
JGAS: The James Gunn Appreciation Society and JGAS MySpace
The Official “SLiTHER” Website
The Official “LolliLove” Website
The Official “Dawn of the Dead” Website
MySpace: Tromeo & Juliet