Returning to directing after a few years of absence is Rob Cohen, who is choosing to stage his comeback with the highly anticipated Alex Cross. Based on the character created by James Patterson, we’ve already seen Cross brought to life by actor Morgan Freeman in Kiss the Girls and Along Came The Spider but Cohen is set to bring us a new, darker take on the famous detective.
At the film’s Los Angeles press day, we sat down one on one with Rob Cohen and discussed with him all things Alex Cross. He told us why this was the film that pulled him back into directing, the casting of Tyler Perry, working on a smaller budget and much more.
Check it out below.
We Got This Covered: This is your first film since the third Mummy movie, what made Alex Cross the film that you wanted to go back to directing with?
Rob Cohen: Well, in the intrum, between The Mummy and Alex Cross, I had been develeoping xXx 3D and a movie called Medival. Both film were in excess of $100 million budget and both movies, after eight months on Medival and six months on xXx, both movies fell apart.
So I was looking around and saying, “the studio thing is just not working, they’re not making the movies I want to make.” The process to making movies has become different once corporate America got into it. There’s too much directing from the back office. So when Bill offered me the script for Alex Cross, I was interested because I’ve known Bill (Block) forever. And plus, after thirty studio movies, it was time to do more of an independent film.
We Got This Covered: Alex Cross has a budget of $23 million. What’s it like going from something like The Mummy to a film like this, where your budget is so much lower.
Rob Cohen: It’s different. It’s almost two completely different experiences. In The Mummy, you have everything you need and more. In Alex Cross, you don’t have enough of what you need. So you have to re-fashion the story and think really carefully about every dollar you’re spending.
That’s an interesting discipline because you go back to what you loved about filmmaking in the beginning. There is a real one to one effect between filmmaker and film. The shortness of money makes everybody solve problems creatively because you can’t solve them with money. In a big movie, if you hit a problem, you just get more money. In this movie, you can’t throw money at a problem.
We Got This Covered: Some critics have said that films like Along Came A Spider and Kiss the Girls, the portrayal of Alex Cross isn’t as close to the novels as they would of liked. Was your intention to make the character closer to the books?
Rob Cohen: My intention was to be truer to Jim’s characters, to have freedom with the plot and to make it more contemporary. When Bill called and asked, are you doing it again with Morgan [Freeman], I said no and told him that we were talking to Tyler Perry. I had met Tyler a year earlier and I had kidded with him backstage at a performance that he could be an action star. He laughed and told me to find him a project. So when I heard they were talking to him, I was very excited.
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We Got This Covered: James Patterson was involved in this movie in a way that I’m guessing he wasn’t in the previous films that featured the character. Can you talk on that at all?
Rob Cohen: To me, he was like the Godfather. I didn’t want to offend him, I didn’t want to cut him out. I wanted to hear what he had to say. I woud give him the drafts of the script and he’d give me his notes. I showed him all the cuts too and he was always very constructive. We wouldn’t be anywhere without him. You have to honour the creator.
We Got This Covered: This is Tyler Perry’s first movie that he didn’t direct/write, was there anything that he brought to this production that you didn’t anticipate he would bring.
Rob Cohen: I believed in him with all my heart but I was surprised at the depth of his dramatic abilities. I knew that as good a comedian he was, he’d be able to drama. And I knew that he could do the action. But it was when he started to bring the stuff you only get from first rate actors, you go “holy sh*t, boy did I pick right, this guy is really talented.”
We Got This Covered: On IMDB, it implied you were working on another xXx movie, is that still happening?
Rob Cohen: It’s sort of dormant, I’m waiting for Vin to get his head out of Fast and Furious sequels.
We Got This Covered: What are your thoughts on the Fast and Furious series and would you direct another one?
Rob Cohen: I’d be happy to do it. I mean, it is my baby. No matter what way they twist it, I am still the guy who did the first one and made it what it was. I think that for a series to last ten or twelve years, you have to keep growing. I don’t know that I would have gone to the heist world, but the fact that it did $550 million, twelve years after the first, is a compliment to what we started out to do.
The first couple sequels though, what I hated about them was that it was just for money, the studio was just milking the cash cow. It’s a miracle they didn’t kill it. If you were to just watch Tokyo Drift, you’d say “I never want to see anything related to Fast and Furious again.”
We Got This Covered: Patterson has said that what he does in his books is hyper-realism, did you try to go the same route?
Rob Cohen: No, I wanted to go more realistic, I didn’t want a hyper-real thing. I find hyper reality is great for superhero films but if you’re going to try and take an audience along on a ride with a character, you want it to be truthful, not necessarily stylized. Stylization and emotional connection don’t always go together. Style you observe, emotion you feel. I wanted no barriers between the characters and audience.
That concludes our interview but we’d like to thank Rob for talking with us. Be sure to check out Alex Cross, in theatres this weekend.Previous