Kevin Feige is an American film producer who has been president of Marvel Studios since 2007. The films he has produced have a combined worldwide box office gross of over $18 billion. In 2019, he earned his first nomination for the Academy Award for Best Picture for producing Black Panther.
He has produced Marvel movies since the very first X-Men and and has been involved in some way with the television sector as well. Today he talks to us about the grand scope of Captain Marvel and how human she is and of what kind of work that is going to be produced for Disney Plus programming.
Our interview also covered other topics including why now was the right time for Captain Marvel, working with the amazingly talented Ben Mendelsohn, and the MCU's future now that the X-Men are coming back home following the Disney/Fox deal.
Not only are women getting more representation as superheroes on the big screen, but female heroes are emerging in congress and all over society. In the past you have had great fortune with subtext of your films, whether it be surveillance in The Winter Soldier or a divided country and allegiance in Civil War. Why is now the right time for Captain Marvel?
Kevin Feige: Your questions are gonna be way better than my answer. It’s a great question. Oh my god. We announced this movie four years ago, four and a half years ago. We based it on comics from a decade or so ago and particularly Kelly Sue [DeConnick] comic run from 2012-ish. So less than 10 years ago. In certain ways the zeitgeist has caught up to Kelly's story in what Captain Marvel represents. With all the films you just named there is a - and I can't answer it honestly - whether it's the zeitgeist that pulls us into it or if we've just gotten lucky that the stories we want to tell end up intersecting with what's happening in real life. I think that happens in publishing the comics is that it shifts and changes based on current events. And that's certainly the case with Winter Soldier, which you named and a lot of our films, this one perhaps being the most relevant and the most apparent.
In the comics, Mar-Vell was more than just Carol's mentor. He was a major cosmic hero and had a long legacy through his children. We see some of that heroism here. Will we see the legacy of Mar-Vell lived through more than just Carol?
Kevin Feige: Will we see it lived through more? Yeah. I mean, I think one of the things that's fun to us about the timeline of this film and the potential of future stories with these characters is there's a great past, not just of Mar-Vell, but of the entire Skrull/Kree conflict and also this gap of history between when Carol Danvers flew off with Talos at the end, spoiler, and when she arrives with the Avengers.
In the comics, the Kree/Skrull war was an ongoing fallout and impacted earth and its heroes in many ways over the years. How did you come to the decision to use the Kree/Skrull war is a backdrop which to introduce Carol?
Kevin Feige: We wanted to give her her own corner of the universe, her own mythology. While we're not specific about this in the movie, there's potential to understand where has she been this whole time? Why haven't we seen her yet? The answer is revealed and hinted at in this movie as she was dealing with a colossal, universal conflict in another section of the MCU.
We've seen a small segment of the Skrull population now looking for sanctuary, where the rest and are they as nice as this group?
Kevin Feige: Great question. As Talos says there are many of them spread throughout the galaxy. And we've said, part of the twist that you're alluding to, is about flushing out these pointy eared, green aliens. Making them real, making them fully formed and part of, for better for worse, part of being fully formed and being a three-dimensional species is there are probably good ones as we've seen in this film. And there are probably bad ones.
Let me just say that Ben Mendelsohn, even with all that makeup on, is so charming. He's incredible.
Kevin Feige: He’s astounding. “TGBM,” that was a phrase that we had during the making of the move, which is just Thank God for Ben Mendelsohn. Cause he’s so good in that makeup.
This movie paints the Skrulls in an interesting light and leaves them on seemingly good terms of Carol and Earth. When we think Skrulls, we think Secret Invasion. Is that something that's still on the table after what's transpired and Captain Marvel?
Kevin Feige: I mean, anything we haven't done, anything from the books that we haven't yet done in film is always on the table.
Captain Marvel also lays a foundation for a future adventure in the superhero Photon [Monica Rambeau]. If you pay attention, you subtly place the next generation of heroes in plain sight, whether it be looking at Cassie and Ant-Man, Shuri or Monica Rambeau. Is there any plan to bring these characters together at some point?
Kevin Feige: That would be fun. That would be a good idea.
I'm a big Captain Marvel fan just from the comics. And I know that with Kamala Khan, before she became Kamala Khan, she was in plain sight in a panel and I believe it's Captain Marvel 14. Just in a panel, almost an Easter egg. Is there a chance that we've already seen Kamala Khan in this movie almost as an Easter egg?
Kevin Feige: No. No. I mean Monica you've mentioned and it's not hidden. Obviously. It's right there. The answer is no. Cause I think Ms. Marvel is a contemporary story and I don't think she was born yet.
Captain Marvel's nearly omnipotent, which has been a challenge for writers in the comics for characters like Superman who have a lack of physical weakness. How do you keep the character grounded and vulnerable in future installments as her power grows?
Kevin Feige: I think as with some of the other characters you've mentioned there are no characters, certainly no Marvel characters that are invulnerable and that are immortal. They can all be killed at some point as Loki says to Thor in Avengers 1. So we may see that at some point, introduce that at some point.
I have a question about The Eternals. Can you talk a bit about the scope of what The Eternals might be and will it take us back to the beginning of life on earth or more of a modern tale?
Kevin Feige: Yes.
Fair enough. How is Shang-Chi coming along because I'm really excited for that one as well too.
Kevin Feige: It's all early days. Anything post-Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home is, at least publicly, all sort of in the works and time will tell.
It seems that the Quantum Realm will be positioned as a prominently going forward, as the Infinity Stones were in the first 10 years of the MCU. How important will this concept be?
Kevin Feige: I think really important. I think it's one of the fun things about the comics that allow you to explore entirely new terrains. And we've hinted at it now in numerous films and its primarily untapped potential.
It's no secret that Captain Marvel is being positioned to be the center of the MCU. However, it seems that the mega success of Black Panther was understandably unexpected. And his future presence should increase. How do you change the future storylines based on the success of characters?
Kevin Feige: The truth is we haven't done that honestly. I mean we've had plans, we always hope films will do well enough that we can make more films. Panther did and then some as you point out. But none of the stories as we've wanted to tell them, have altered yet based on somebody's box office success. That being said, of course, Wakanda and Panther and his amazing, amazing, group of characters will be seen in many different ways in the future.
Well, that's good because I love those characters. You guys are doing more of the space stuff, the MCU in space. How do you keep the tones of those films unique, because Guardians is a lot different than this even.
Kevin Feige: Yeah. And I'm glad you said that. It's the filmmakers, I'm mean, Anna [Boden] and Ryan [Fleck] are very different than James Gunn or different from Taika [Waititi] or different from Joss or John and Joe and Anthony. And that’s how the tones are all different even though they're similar. Either power sets or a science fiction concept.
Just out of curiosity, did you have a favorite ‘90s song that was in Captain Marvel?
Kevin Feige: Um, no. I liked all of them and we listened to dozens, dozens of other ones as you can imagine as we were honing in on it. I’m just now 45 years old and feeling old, that these are all, I mean, a period movie based on the year I graduated college.
I'm 36 and I felt I felt the same kind of where I was like, Oh man, I remember this like it was yesterday.
Kevin Feige: I do like that, what's it called? Celebrity Skin. That song works quite well.
Could The Eternals introduce some new locations like Atlantis, Olympus, allowing for characters like Namor or Hercules to make their way into the MCU?
Kevin Feige: Could it or will it are two very different things. One of the things we like about The Eternals and have started thinking about how we could do something with it are The Eternals themselves. Not as a way to introduce any other characters, and there are a lot of Eternals that are all very distinct and different from one another and that that's our focus.
I met Brie Larson yesterday and she's one of the most amazing, wonderful people just in general as a person. What do you think she brings to the MCU? Just her presence alone.
Kevin Feige: Well I think she's amazing on camera and off camera, what you just said it. From our initial meetings with her to her coming out on stage in San Diego at Hall H when we announced her casting, to her social media presence and of course her ability to bring this character to life. It's amazing. And I think we've been very lucky with casting where these people. And I think it's true of Downey and Chadwick and certainly Chris Evans. They embody these characters in ways that don't require any visual effects whatsoever.
You know one thing I love about this movie as well is the friendship. To me that's a highlight of the movie, the friendship between Maria and Carol. I think that it keeps it grounded. It doesn't need to be a love interest in this movie. It's just a bond and a friendship. Talk to me about how that relationship is just different than any other kind of relationship and how that keeps Carol grounded and brings her back to her humanity.
Kevin Feige: Well that was something as we were developing the script and queuing off of the comics as always, it never even occurred to have a love interest. That's not what the movie was about. It was about Carol finding herself and growing and making mistakes and being bolstered up by her female mentors and female friends. And that relationship with Maria was very important. It was something that was, and frankly I give all credit to Lashana [Lynch] who was amazing and who, and I don't know if it's a spoiler or not, but the unique structure of the origin story that this movie has. Initially we were like, is that bond going to be strong enough? Are we having not experienced it in real time upfront when they get to Louisiana? Is it going to land? And we saw the frankly the audition and then the dailies. Oh it's landing there. They're amazing.
Yeah, to me that's one of the highlights of the movie. That relationship. One thing too is you already start seeing a glimmer of a hero in young Monica. She already has this spark of hope, but she feels like she's starting to go on her own journey as a hero eventually. Are there plans from Monica in the future?
Kevin Feige: As I sort of said before anything not announced yet or anything post Endgame and Spider-Man is all just full of potential.
I know that the X-Men are finally coming back. And this is not an X-Men question, but I'm a big Scott Summers fan, so he's my favorite character of all time. So just please make them cool.
Kevin Feige: Was he not being cool before?
I feel that like he always gets the short end of the stick, Scott Summers. But I'm hoping that we get Starjammers movie before they even get introduced to the X-Men. I love Corsair. Have you begun mapping out Captain Marvel's larger story arc or have you been brainstorming on the second part of Captain Marvel?
Kevin Feige: Yes. Yeah. I mean we always brainstorm. The making of a first film is in some ways a brainstorm on the future and on what can be. So what it will be again not clear. But what it could be is pretty amazing.
I also think that we know that Nick Fury now has definitely been through some stuff between '95 and when he meets Iron Man. I guess it could be an origin story in a sense for Nick Fury too. But do you think we'll get to explore more of Fury in between being actual spy?
Kevin Feige: I think the fun part about about seeing this portion of the MCU is that gap. We've heard about some of it and Winter Soldier. The Robert Redford character talks about some timelines and we've mentioned some of those adventures. The potential is there and I just love the notion of someday people watching the Marvel Studios Films for the first time and maybe they'll, you know, sometimes I like how people debate online, what's the best order to watch them in. Is it release order? Is it chronologically, well, if they watch this movie before they watch Iron Man, when Nick Fury comes out in the tag and says, you're not the only superhero in the world. They'll go, no, he's talking about her.
That's what I do. I do the chronological order now before every movie. Last question, fans are eagerly awaiting the upcoming series on Disney Plus. How involved are you with the storylines of Loki, Falcon and Winter Soldier, Vision and Scarlet Witch? Do you guys have any sense of the budget on these projects? How do you guys envision these shows?
Kevin Feige: We were entirely involved. Marvel Studios is producing for Disney Plus. And, without being too specific, we want to do something that's going to stand right alongside the MCU films and we'll be completely intertwined and the story and the characters will go back and forth between Disney Plus programming and the films.
Jeffrey James Tremaine is an American showrunner, filmmaker and former magazine editor. He is most closely associated with the Jackass franchise, having been involved since the inception of the first TV show. He is currently the executive producer for Rob Dyrdek's Fantasy Factory, Ridiculousness, Nitro Circus, and Adult Swim's Loiter Squad. His new film The Dirt (2019) is a biopic about the legendary rock band Motley Crue. Today he talks about his experience with Jackass helped him understand the crazy legacy of Motley Crue.
Screen Rant: Right now I have to ask, what was it about Motley Crew that you, their unique story that you kind of attached to?
Jeff Tremaine: Well, it was funny because when we were, I was making Jackass, the first Jackass movie and that's when that book came out and we were all like, we are all handing it to each other like “You gotta read this book. It's crazy.” And not really realizing then that our stories are so similar like that there is so much fun and craziness, but there's also a lot of tragedy and there's addiction. We've gone, I've gone through a very similar, just being involved with a little family, a crazy dysfunctional family similar to that, that's why I wanted to tell the story and tell it right. Like I wasn't a Motley Crue superfan, you know, I liked Motley Crue. But I was not a super fan. I told, I wanted to tell the story because I feel like I went through this and I get it and I was an eighties kid that I wanted to tell this story right. And not make it feel like a parody and joke. You know.
Screen Rant: It's funny that you brought up Jackass 'cause I was going to ask, how did that experience help you kind of do this?
Jeff Tremaine: I don't know how much it helped me do this. I guess the success of Jackass helped me do this because, yeah. But I guess living through this and you know, through doing Jackass, I did become a filmmaker.
Screen Rant: Well also, I mean they're all kind of a lot of similarities between I guess, cause the Jackass crew crazy. And so is the Motley Crue crew, obviously they're crazy. But why do you think it was the right time to do a Motley Crue bio pic now?
Jeff Tremaine:Well, I've been trying, like now it just happened. Like to me, I've been trying to get this movie made. I've been attached to this movie for eight years. And I would have happily made it eight years ago, but it took this long to make it so here we are. And but we, you know, it's, we're just telling this true story that’s in this book. I'm not trying to look at it through any other lens. And this and this happened.
Screen Rant: I mean, that's one thing is you don't shy away from the success or the transgressions that anybody really has. I mean it's there, front and center. Now talking to the band and in talking to them about that experience, how did you want to keep that as authentic as possible when you were doing those kinds of scenes and that kind of stuff?
Jeff Tremaine: Well, they put out this book, they put all those stories out there and told it as honestly, I mean there was open books. I guess so, having put that book out, I'm like, let's just capture this like the spirit and the voice and the individual voices in this. I wanted to capture that. When I read that book I was, it was so magical that each guy has their own voice and they sometimes contradict each other and their stories. And I wanted to make sure that this movie felt like that. So we tried to infuse that into this movie.
Screen Rant: Were there any stories from that book that, that you wanted to put in the film but didn't quite make it?
Jeff Tremaine: I mean, yeah, like there's not, I'm not gonna, I can't rattle off one, even one specific one. The big ones are all in this movie to me, but there was endless mayhem that I would have loved to.
Screen Rant: Sure, sure, I can only imagine. What do you think future generations can take away from the success and some of the transgressions that these guys had?
Jeff Tremaine: Yeah. I mean, I don't think these guys are role models by any means, but I think their music will live forever. Like I told you, I wasn't a super fan going into this, but like, you know, when you make something like this, you get, you have to listen to those songs so many damn times. You get sick of them, but their music, I got, it would get better and better. I'm like, Oh yeah, I'm done now. I'm a superfan now. I am like, this music is timeless.
Screen Rant: If you were to relate yourself to or put yourself in a relate the most to any one of the Motley Crue guys, which one do you think, if the calls out to you the most?
Jeff Tremaine: Well that's hard to say. Like I like Nikki a lot. He's been very helpful to me and getting this made and just been a really good voice. But Tommy, he's like, I love Tommy. Like he feels like one of the Jackass guys, like the most, like one of the Jackass guys. I like them all. They've all been very helpful in their own ways
Screen Rant: Even after watching this, I didn't know much about Mick and I, and I felt like, Oh man, this guy was talented, right?
Jeff Tremaine: Mick is so kickass too. So I helped, they shot a concert film in 2015 and I got to, they asked me if I'd do the behind the scenes, so do just any, all the band interviews and that kind of stuff. So I went and I was hanging out with Mick and I was like, “Hey, will you just show us your guitars, like how you keep it all when you're getting ready to go on stage.” And he just showed us his little guitar closets on the side of the stage. And then he grabbed one of the guitars and he plugged in and got out on stage. This is at the Honda Center in Anaheim and just plugged in and I just started calling out songs and he just started riffing them. The dude, it's just really like slow-mo. His fingers are just like, oh my God. Oh my God, I just want to see this. This is fantastic.
The Dirt is a biographical film that tells the story of glam metal band Mötley Crüe’s rise to fame. Colson Baker, known professionally as the rapper Machine Gun Kelly, plays Tommy Lee, Mötley Crüe's drummer. Douglas Booth, who starred in Darren Aronofsky's Noah and The Wachowskis' Jupiter Ascending, plays Nikki Sixx, the band’s bassist. And Game of Thrones’ Iwan Rheon plays Mick Mars, Mötley Crüe's guitarist. The Dirt was released on Netflix this March.
Screen Rant: Guys, amazing job. First and foremost, I’ve got to ask, what do you think people are going to get to take away from this? Because there's a lot of trials and tribulations this band goes through. Through fame, through their mishaps. What can the new generation of artists take away from Mötley Crüe?
Douglas Booth: Well I feel like, for us, our main focus was telling-- Giving people, maybe for like younger ones haven't seen that world into the '80s which was such a different time, like such a lost time now, you'd never returned to something like that. But Mötley Crüe sold how many hundred? A hundred and something million…
Iwan Rheon: Loads.
Douglas Booth: Loads of albums. So, we wanted to like honor the music, and the people that saw that band then, and it meant so much to them, and kind of bring that to life.
Colson Baker: Yeah, kind of make it feel like that they're experiencing that for the first time.
Douglas Booth: Yeah, ‘cause I was born in ‘92 so I missed it. So, it's such a fascinating window into a time, a long, lost time, I would say.
Colson Baker: And showing consequences. I think, to answer your question, I think showing consequences.
Screen Rant: I mean it also shows them in a pretty real light. Like pretty raw reality. But you play Nikki and he has quite the arc. How fulfilling was it playing that character and diving into somebody as complex?
Douglas Booth: Oh, I mean, it's, for as an actor, it’s a dream to play someone that has so many layers. I remember when I first read the script, I was like, “I want to play Tommy. He's just like, there's such a lovable horny puppy dog of rock and roll.”
Colson Baker: And I wanted to play him.
Douglas Booth: He wanted to play Nikki.
Iwan Rheon: I wanted to play Vince [LAUGHS].
Douglas Booth: And then we kind of both, I mean, he literally, he walked into the room, and he's like, his physicality, his everything, he is Tommy Lee. And they were like, “Would you think about playing, Nikki? Would you do a tape for Nikki?” And suddenly I realized there was such complexity there. And that is a dream for an actor to dive into that, I guess.
Screen Rant: Well, speaking of Tommy, I mean that's like perfect casting for you as Tommy, because you come from a music background as well. How did you relate to that? Both being kind of like in the rock star kind of life.
Colson Baker: I think, I had attached myself to Tommy just as a fan from a lot younger. Even his other book Tommyland, I was huge on. I'd read those when I was really young. I had got Tommy Lee's Mayhem tattoo, that was on his stomach, tattooed on my wrist. When I was like 18 maybe. And, dude, I was always like tall, lanky, loved girls, loved music. It wasn't too far of a departure from who I am [LAUGHS].
Screen Rant: Now Mick may not have been the biggest celebrity coming out of the band, but he has one of the sharpest personalities and perspective. What did you want to bring to that character and really dive into with Mick?
Iwan Rheon: I guess, first and foremost, how much of an incredible musician he is and what he brought to the band as a musician. That passion and drive to just be amazing and that aggressive style. And also, I think he's kind of the wise owl of the band. He's lived a bit more, he's already experienced life a little bit more.
Douglas Booth: He used to live on park benches when he first started.
Iwan Rheon: Yeah, exactly. And he had, he'd lived a whole different life. And, yeah, it's kind of how excited he was to finally [find] where he was supposed to be in this band, with these guys. And I think that was really important for him.
Colson Baker: But I think what really took it to the next level though, really, the physicality of the acting. Because I think too, it was, it was amazing to see that. Sure, there’s less words on paper for Mick Mars. But watching, you can't help but just always see the little things. Like when he struggles to get up, or all those, you know, it spoke so loudly. I remember when I watched it for the first time, I mean, I don't like talking to you while you're right here, talking about you while you're right here [LAUGHS], but…
Iwan Rheon: Thanks though, that’s really sweet.
Screen Rant: Now Mötley Crüe is known for having crazy, crazy stories, and not all of them could fit into this film. Are there any crazy stories that you guys have heard about or researched that didn't make it into the film?
Douglas Booth: I mean, I think there was, there's definitely a process when you write a script that you can't fit everything in. So, there's definitely, there’s a lot of stories that didn't make it into the film. And we had a great writing team, that kind of just weave the best version of our story for now, I think.
Jason Mitchell gained nationwide recognition and critical praise when he portrayed Eazy-E in the 2015 biopic Straight Outta Compton. He went on to star in the critically acclaimed Mudbound and the Hollywood blockbuster Kong: Skull Island. His latest film is The Mustang, the story of a violent convict who rediscovers his own humanity by training wild horses. Mitchell plays Henry, an outgoing fellow inmate and trick rider.
Screen Rant: First of all, Jason, congratulations on the film. I’ve got to know, what brought you to this project and how did you connect with your character?
Jason Mitchell: What brought me to this project actually was [Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre]. She was a really big fan of mine already. And I'm a fan of hers. But what really connected me to it was, like no matter what situation I’m in, in life, I always have a smile on my face. Like things could be going in the worst, and I'm always going to be smiling and everybody knows that. So, to have somebody sort of take that and add that to the script already was like, “Oh! This is for me.” You know? But I was completely terrified of horses. My entire life. So, I’m like, “This could be interesting.” This could be something that, that not only changes me as an artist, but changes me as a person.
Screen Rant: You were afraid of horses your entire life? So, you got to confront a lot of fears in this.
Jason Mitchell: Yes, definitely. Because I mean, this is a 900-pound beast, you know what I mean? And they're prey animals, so they're like, they always spook super easily. But I had a really bad experience when I was like 16, and one of my friends was run over by a Clydesdale horse, and it was just all bad. And I was like, “You know what, maybe horses ain't for me.” You know what I mean? [LAUGHS].
Screen Rant: That's a good reason.
Jason Mitchell: Yeah. So, to get to the point where not only I can ride a horse, but I can actually go through the process to put my hand on a wild Mustang, is groundbreaking for me.
Screen Rant: Well, they say never work with kids or animals and obviously there's a lot of horses in this. Can you talk to me about the experience and the training that you had to go through to be this like teacher for these horses?
Jason Mitchell: Yeah. Well, before I even got to get on the horse, maybe for like a week solid, they just had me learning how to saddle the horse. Learning how to clean the stables, learning how to clean the horse, learning how to communicate with the horse. Learning which side to walk on, and how to stay out of danger, or different things like that. But it was something that I loved so much that I would always just, you know, kind of go the extra mile. I was the guy who was cleaning all the horse stables after every day, and coming in early to be able to ride, and trying a bunch of different things, and it was really good. I had this guy; he was an Australia guy actually. And he would always be like, “All right, now when you get comfortable, okay, I want you to just get him trotting along that wall. When I say Jason, just do about a 10-foot circle and get back right on that wall. I'm not going to say much, I'm just going to say Jason. Okay?” [LAUGHS] But it was a good time. It was just a really good time. And everybody who had something to do with it was really proud. You know what I mean? And actors can always take the easy route out. Like, “Call in the double.” But I didn't want to be that guy. And as a result, I think we really, really hit the mark.
Screen Rant: You really did. And also, another thing that's highlighted in this film, is all you guys have such stunning performances.
Jason Mitchell: Thank you.
Screen Rant: And you got to work with the legendary Bruce Dern. So, I have to ask, is there anything that you learned from him just by being on set with that man?
Jason Mitchell: Absolutely. I learned that—Well, because a lot of times as a young actor, you're afraid of your own thoughts. You know what I mean? Like, “Would this be okay to do? Is this not okay to do?” And he has such a bag of tricks. When you're in a scene with him, it's never going to be like you think it is. And afterwards, he's like, “You know? I like this kid. This kid can dance. Every time I give him something, he hasn't moved for it. I like this kid.” And he was just so seasoned, and he had so much love for it. Cause we're out there with dust and dirt and the horses. And he's kind of just this frail old man, but he was just always ready. There were times you had to like, cover him up with blankets, but he didn't want to leave. He was totally down to stay. I love that guy.
Screen Rant: Can you talk to me about the relationship between Henry and Roman and how that develops?
Jason Mitchell: Yeah, it was interesting. Because it was a lot like me with a horse. It was like, you try to just sort of like press this, this idea of loving somebody, or having this sort of bond with somebody. But it's steps to that. So, his relationship that he has with Henry is directly reflected through his horse. So, we're kind of like in this weird love triangle. And it was really, really good because [Matthias Schoenaerts] is so dedicated, he's so dedicated. And he's a guy who like, in the middle of the night in the hotel room, he just [KNOCKS], “You know? I was thinking about this. So, what do you think about this?” And he's just really, really sticking it. And when I watched his performance, I'm like, man, I cried like three or four times. I'm like, “Matthias, I know exactly what's going to happen. Why are you making me cry?” It's so good.
Screen Rant: You guys did an amazing job. Thank you so much for your time.
Jason Mitchell: Thank you, man.
Robert Marshall is an American film and theatre director, producer, and choreographer. His most notable work is the Academy Award-winning film Chicago (2002), for which he won the Directors Guild of America Award. A five-time Tony Award nominee, he also won a Primetime Emmy Award for his choreography in the television film Annie (1999). He talks about what it was like to recreate such an iconic world in Mary Poppins Returns and his experience working with the legendary Dick Van Dyke who portrayed the chimney sweep, Bert, in the original Mary Poppins (1964).
Screen Rant: Here we are again. Mary Poppins Returns, again.
Rob Marshall: I know again, again, again.
Screen Rant: It seems like you've been kind of, this has been your life, I mean from your filmography to what you're doing now. From your background in music and the stage and dance. Have you been training for this movie your whole life?
Rob Marshall: It's such a great question. And you know what I guess I have, I really have. I mean, I've been dying to do for many, many years now an original musical for film. And so to be able to do it with this one, especially because the first film means so, so much to me. It was an, and I knew the bar is so high. That I just wanted to do it with every ounce in every inch in me. And to be able to gather this kind of team, this kind of cast, to do it this way, you know, with Disney's incredible support behind me. I mean, I will say this was a dream come true and it was a three year process. But I have to say, I loved escaping into the world of Cherry Tree Lane. For me personally, especially in the world today. I was so happy to go there and to bring the story to life.
Screen Rant: One thing I love about the film is the 2D animation, and I know that that's traditional 2D animation and now it's kind of a lost art. So can you talk and what better place than at Disney to find 2D?
Rob Marshall: The animation building's right there.
Screen Rant: Right. Was that really hard to find animators that were actually knew that style of animation because it's still kind of a lost art.
Rob Marshall: It is a lost art. And I will say that everybody was so excited when I said I want to do 2D hand drawn animation for this. And people were so excited because it's so fresh and so new again, but you're absolutely right because we, it was hard to find animators who knew that. So we did a lot of looking and a lot of guys came out of retirement to do it. And a lot of wonderful artists also that were young who are interested in the old school style came onboard too. So you had these sort of older folks and then you had this younger team of people who are excited about that. I mean it's that classic thing, you know, the drawing, every frame, flip, flip, flip and all of that you do. I mean, and I think you feel the artistry. I think you feel it. I think you, it's, there's nothing like seeing it and then to see it with live actors, you know, it's thrilling.
Screen Rant: I also know that you were one of the choreographers on the film as well. What was the biggest challenge of adapting what you know now to the style of Mary Poppins was fifty-four years ago?
Rob Marshall: Wow. Well, you know what? I will say that I was anxious to do. I mean in terms of choreography goes a lot of choreography, but the big huge dance number, a trip, a little light, fantastic is an eight minute sequence and that was my dream. From in my whole life to do a big huge production number of that scale with, you know, athleticism and guys dancing. And you know I always said that I'd probably would have been one of those, her lamplighters up there dancing away because it's, you know, what I did. And so that was also a dream come true to be able to do something like that on that scale. And you know, led by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Emily blunt. It was, that was great.
Screen Rant: Well Lin-Manuel said in the behind the scenes featurette that most of the times when he would do the stage stuff that he never had that much prep time. And the way that you had that scene kind of developed, everything looks so natural with their choreography. Speaking of Lin-Manuel what did, what was it like collaborating with him and did he like kind of help inform any of the choreography at all or any of the music?
Rob Marshall:Well, I like to try and create the choreography, John DeLuca and myself around the talent, you know, take advantage of their strengths. So, you know, we have something mapped out, but then we tailor make it to who we're working with. And that happened with Emily and with Meryl Streep and anybody that's dancing, you know, what are, what do they do well? And so that's what we were looking for. And that's what we're working on. And I mean, they're just, there's nothing like working with actors who are in a way new to dance or new music and learning how to express yourself in that way. And that it's a continuation of the character. You know, it's not just sort of like a little production, you know, presentational number. It actually is a development of your character. And so I don't, I think because I'm a director, choreographer, you know, it doesn't sort of stop the, you know, the story doesn't stop when the numbers begin and then then pick up again. It's like, it's all part of it. And I think weaving that fabric of it altogether is very helpful, I think for the film, but also for the actors as well.
Screen Rant: Well, you'll be collaborating with Lin again on The Little Mermaid, which was actually my first Disney movie I've ever seen. How's that process going?
Rob Marshall: That's thrilling. I mean, we're just at the stage of writing it and I actually, David McGee, who wrote Mary Poppins returns with us and John Deluca and myself. It's the same team. We're just starting to put it together and create you know, the story. I mean, you obviously have the incredible animation movie animated film, But you know, a live action films different. It's a whole 'nother thing. So you, you have to work from that and create something. So we're at the writing stage and there'll be some new songs by Alan Menken Lin-Manuel Miranda, which is thrilling and I can't wait. So it's all in the works right now.
Screen Rant: 17 Cherry Tree Lane, down to the slight, every detail was there. When you first stepped on that set, what went through your head?
Rob Marshall: It was very moving to me. I have to say, it was sort of like, well here it is, you know, that thing that you've seen on screen for so many years. We are here in the middle of it living it. And I think it was that way for everybody. I remember when I brought people onto the set to see it for the first time I played music, you know, so that when they came out it was an emotional experience at the same time. And you know, all of us felt, I know humbled to be there or grateful to be there and continue the legacy.
Screen Rant: You said that the bar was set pretty high for you. Cause it's Mary Poppins. It's so many people are protective of it. When you had Dick Van Dyke on set, can you talk to me about some of the emotions that you were going through? Cause I saw even you had a tough time saying the word cut when he finished his scene. I had a tough time just watching that.
Rob Marshall: No, I did. I did. Well, it was a dream come true to have him involved in this film. For him to touch this film, having come from the first film, all of that was just surreal. But he brings with him such a sense of, I don't know, joy and wonder and magic, just who he is, how he lives his life. It's the lesson of the film about approaching your life from that place. And he's the embodiment of that. And I just, I couldn't quite believe it was happening. I will say for me and I, you know, he said to me as we walked onto the set, he said, I feel the same spirit on this set as I did on the first film. And that was the greatest compliment ever, because, you know, that's what you hope to achieve. You hope to achieve that kind of place. And I felt it. I certainly felt it then, I couldn't believe that he felt it too.
Mary Poppins Returns is now available on Digital and Blu-ray.