When talking about modern day Renaissance men, Kevin Grevioux’s name absolutely has to be thrown into the mix. The gentle giant has a bevy of different credits to his name including writer, producer, actor, comic book creator, and he even opened the comic label DarkStorm Studios back in 2003. While his name might not be on the tip of your tongue, you’ll remember Grevioux most famously for his role as Raze in the Underworld franchise – which he also scripted. Then you’ll hear his voice and go, “Ohhhhh, that’s Kevin Grevioux!” – as you should.
Kevin’s latest project is I, Frankenstein, where he wears numerous hats – but it all started from a comic series that re-imagined Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as some demon-hunting protector more man than beast. Loosing his typical mute nature and slow physical attributes, Adam (as he’s named) becomes engrossed in a violent war between angelic gargoyles and hellish demons that threatens the very fabric of humanity. Audiences can expect plenty of action sequences, heavy doses of CGI, and surprisingly inviting 3D technology that actually doesn’t make you want to gauge your eyes out – which alone is an accomplishment.
While Mr. Grevioux was attending the New York City press day for I, Frankenstein, yours truly had the chance to sit down with the multi-talented artist and discuss his new action thriller. After crushing my hand with his Herculean handshake, we talked about the beginnings of I, Frankenstein, what his career has entailed so far, and what crossover Kevin tried to bring to the I, Frankenstein world – only to have it turned down immediately.
WGTC: I want people to understand just how intimidating a man you are – how many of me can you bench? Keep in mind, I’m a good 160-170 right about now.
Kevin Grevioux: Hmm…let me see. Back in the day? I could bench three of you. [Laughs] That was back in the day, not now. Now I’d get a hernia.
WGTC: That is extremely fair. Kudos sir. Now playing off of your tremendously bulky size, I have another random question to address – have you ever thought of lobbying for the part of Marvel’s Luke Cage? When I see you, I immediately think of the character…
Kevin Grevioux: Nah, not really. Luke Cage was fascinating when I was a kid. He was the first black character I became aware of as a fan of Marvel comics, but I didn’t like his background necessarily. He had the same background a lot of black characters had, which was from the ghetto, some type of criminal background – and that wasn’t me. [Laughs]
WGTC: Are you ever approached for roles based on your voice alone? You have this real gravely, iconic, deep voice…
Kevin Grevioux: Yeah, I would say so, but that comes with the territory. Basically, as a actor, they look at you based on the image you exude, or the thoughts you provoke in somebody. They go based on that. You have a big balk black guy with a heavy voice, and they go, “oh he’s the heaviness, he’s the villain, he’s the henchman” – and I don’t mind. It’s fun! Beats digging a ditch, right? [Laughs]
WGTC: Can you tell us a fun fact about you someone might not expect? For example, I was talking to Danny Trejo, and he expressed his love for animals. What’s your fun, unexpected fact?
Kevin Grevioux: Before it became fashionable, I was a big comic book collector. I have 10-15,000 issues. Avengers #1, Hulk #2, Fantastic Four #4. I’ve been a fan of comic books since I was 12. I’m also a model builder. I like some of the old television show vehicles, like I have a model of the Jupiter 2. [Laughs] The Seaview? The Flying Sub? I like those, and I collect action figures too.
WGTC: Ok, getting to I, Frankenstein, what inspired you to create this story? You just said you’re a big comic book fan – did you draw any inspiration for your latest story?
Kevin Grevioux: The simple answer is, I wanted to see Frankenstein as an action hero – it was that simple. After Underworld, doing what I did with that, I thought my next screenplay, having to do with monsters at least, was going to deal with the Frankenstein character – and figuring out a good direction for that. I remember I pitched the idea to Lakeshore back in 2007, but they didn’t understand it. I had forgotten a promise I made to myself, which was, after Underworld I didn’t create an IP [Intellectual Property]. I said I would never again go out with a naked screenplay, I would always accompany it with an underlying IP or visuals so people could better understand the world.
When I came back to them, they had found out through the grapevine that I’d written a script, and I was going to take it around to everyone in town, but had only managed to take it to a few people before Lakeshore got a hold of it. They were like, “We read I, Frankenstein and we love it.” I also had visuals with it so they could understand the world, and they snapped it up before the other people did – so that’s why I made it with them.
WGTC: So you do a little bit of everything, from comics, to acting, to writing, to producing – but which job is the most fun?
Kevin Grevioux: I would say comic books, because when you do your own comic books they’re devoid of endemic politics. You’re working with paper – the sky is the limit because you aren’t working with budget constraints. With movies there are egos involved, people not understanding certain things, producers don’t understand everything. There’s the movie you have in your head, conceptually, and then there’s the movie you write, the movie you sell – the movie you have to adjust. You have someone else coming in, because filmmaking is a collaborative process, and you have a different image on film than what you had in your head originally. Even though in film the accolades are fun, comic books are more pure to me. It’s because of that I like them the most.Next
WGTC: Are you overprotective of your comic books then, almost like a parent hovering over their child?
Kevin Grevioux: Whether or not it’s going to stay like that is another story because you’re not writing the checks. The movie costs a certain amount of money, in the millions, and I’m a couple of bucks short. [Laughs] Whoever pays for it gets to decide. What you hope for is their vision matches up with yours. We got close, but that’s just the nature of the beast. I wrote the first screenplay, the first two or three actually, and Stuart Beattie wrote the last one. He’s a director, it’s up to him to come up with the vision. That’s just the way it works, but we have a great film – and a fun film. My whole goal all along was to turn Frankenstein into an action hero, to have a character trying to figure out who he was – is he man, is he monster, or is he both at the same time? Someone is trying to exploit him for what he has inside of him to make more creatures like him – and that was my story. That’s there. They might have taken away a lot of my monsters, but they left two of them – the gargoyles and the demons, so I’m satisfied.
WGTC: Have you thought at all about any crossovers? Not even about movies, but about your comic books as well…
Kevin Grevioux: I came up with one for I, Frankenstein and Underworld, but it got shut down…
WGTC: Oh really? Is there any chance that might get brought up again?
Kevin Grevioux: Dude, I don’t know, but I remember there was a version of I, Frankenstein I had where I cast him as a private detective. He was still monstrous looking, but he was kind of tapered – kind of like where Aaron is, but a little bit more. It was in this cool Sin City like world…
WGTC: Are we talking like film noir?
Kevin Grevioux: We’re talking about very film noir. One of the tales was, at the end of a story, he’s in his office, and all of a sudden he looks out the window – he looks around and recognizes someone is there. This woman’s voice starts speaking, and she starts talking about this creature, this person who is running loose named William, and they need to find him before certain things happen. She tosses him a picture of William, the werewolf from the Underworld movies, he’s looking at it, and she then tosses a wad of bills on the table – he doesn’t see her by the way. He’s like, “You know, I want to know who I’m working for before I accept a job,” and then Selene steps from the shadows. When I first wrote that, I lost my mind. Oh my goodness, I thought, “This is going to be phenomenal.” Dude, they shut that down like a garage door. [Laughs] To have Adam alongside Selene, that’s a no brainer, but producers don’t get that.
WGTC: Wow, that’s a shame, sorry that didn’t happen! Getting back to the film, how important was it to get someone like Aaron Eckhart to play Adam?
Kevin Grevioux: One of the things that was surprising about Aaron was that I have this preconceived notion about American actors, and that notion is that they “dude” or “babe” it up, not every one, but a lot of them, whereas you have a lot of British actors, no matter what the project is, who take it seriously. They bring a gravitas to the material that it needs for the audiences to accept it. This is why when you see these Marvel movies, you see the lead actors are from another country, they take it seriously.
Now having said that, Robert Downey Jr. did an excellent job. Chris Evans did an excellent job. But Aaron Eckhart is like that. Here he is, an American actor, but he’s a prodigious actor. He brings the gravitas to the character I want. He’s also not very tall. Since I wrote a role in the film for myself, I wanted Frankenstein to be bigger than I was..
WGTC: Well that’s quite the feat!
Kevin Grevioux: [Laughs] Oh yea. If you’ve seen the film, his presence looms large, and that’s what is important. Look, I was fine with it. Someone like him? Great choice.
WGTC: How was the physicality of Aaron’s role? I was talking to him during the Olympus Has Fallen press day and he mentioned he’d hurt himself a few times on this film…
Kevin Grevioux: He was learning using those sticks, that Filipino fighting, and he was good. If you can see with that, if you make one slip – I’ve been hit before doing movies. It doesn’t tickle. Imagine being hit in the face with one of those sticks because you moved wrong? Aw man, right across the chops – but that just speaks to his level of commitment.
WGTC: So I have to ask this question, even though I already probably know the answer, but you’re working with the Underworld producers, and they like making sequels, so are there plans for an I, Frankenstein 2 yet?
Kevin Grevioux: Understand that I created this with the idea of making more, so lord willing there will be more. I have my idea, but we’ll see what happens. The sky is the limit.
WGTC: So when you take your demon form, how long did it take for you to fully demonize yourself? Was it heavy makeup? A mask?
Kevin Grevioux: Not long – about an hour. It was a combination of both. I’ve had extensive prosthetics before – this wasn’t that. This was more like a mask that they augmented with certain pieces. The makeup was meant to be done very quickly. Put the mask on, touch it up here and there – we’re good. It was about an hour in the chair.
WGTC: When you see your gargoyles and demons on screen, is there ever a minute of fanboyish love where you realize “Oh my gosh I created them and now they’re living, breathing beings!”
Kevin Grevioux: Definitely. [Laughs] You have that mostly when you’re on set. A lot of people might not understand this, but by the time you see it on film, or with audiences when it comes out – you shot it two years ago. You’re past that stage, it’s done, it’s out, and your giddiness came when you were on set realizing, “Wow, everyone is here because of me.” That part feels good. Regardless of what it is a lot of people think we do, it’s still work. You’re there trying to do work. You don’t take it in the same way. You might have a momentary chill, but after that it’s work. As long as the trailer looks good and you start seeing different pieces, it’s like, “Yeah, this is going to work.”
WGTC: So what are your future plans? Again, you do so much, so do you want to dive back into the comic book world? Work on more movies? What is it?
Kevin Grevioux: I’m doing all of the above. I think you can have all of that simultaneously. When I created I, Frankenstein, my thing was, “OK – I’ve got the screenplay covered, I’ve got the graphic novel covered, now it’s time to do a video game, and I’ve got an idea for an animated series and also a TV show.” You have to think more globally now as a creator. You don’t always create, you’re also a businessman. That’s what you have to do.
WGTC: So now you just mentioned a TV show and video game – are we still talking I, Frankenstein?
Kevin Grevioux: We’re talking I, Frankenstein, but the video game time has passed. With my next monster franchise, you’re going to see all of the stuff I just mentioned. All of it. That’s how you build that brand. There might be an announcement soon!
I’d like to thank Kevin Grevioux very much for his time, and you can catch I, Frankenstein in theaters right now!Previous