WGTC: Were you familiar with the original comics and characters?
Baltasar Kormákur: No, I wasn’t. When I got the script, I had never heard of it. I’m not a big comic book guy, to be honest. That’s possibly because they were not as big in Iceland when I was a kid. It was more Tintin and stuff like that. Superman wasn’t as big in Europe as it is in America. Or Batman. For me, after I read the script and we started discussing what would go better, I actually decided to go to the comic book to find… What often happens is you bring something up from the source material and then you go away from it and you go too far away from it and then you think why you got excited at the beginning and why you started adapting this. And we brought some of the elements back in. I’ve done a lot of my adaptations myself in Iceland. I always feel like you start breaking away from the material for freedom. And then when you’re done that, you need to look back at it and find, like your first love, why did you start doing that? Then you find the middle ground. There is no reason to use source material if you’re not going to honour it in some way.
WGTC: I was really stunned when watching the film to see that you have a lot of scenes with bulls running around, especially in the climactic action sequence. How did you manage to film that?
Baltasar Kormákur: That was interesting that you caught onto that. That is more complicated than it might look. We didn’t have that many bulls so we had to use the same bulls over and over again. That’s where my Icelandic filmmaking comes in handy: finding a way to limit the sources to make it look bigger. You just have to find ways. When they are in the final scene, they are just running in circles, the same bulls, but people don’t realize that. Behind the camera, they just come back in. So it’s just using every trick in the book to make them look like more than they were.
WGTC: And how do you get the actors to get so close to these animals yet not get hurt?
Baltasar Kormákur: When the bulls were running, those bulls were not that dangerous. They looked a lot more dangerous than they were. By stepping in there myself and saying, ‘If I can do it, you can do it,’ that’s the easiest trick. I know those bulls were not going to harm me. With the big bull, Denzel and Mark weren’t in there. Nobody would have given us insurance. That was an angry bull, you don’t want to get anywhere close to that bull. We had to shoot that separately and use stunt guys and all kinds of tricks. But the bulls running in the final scene, that’s all real and the actors were in there. But those bulls are not dangerous.
WGTC: They just look more intimidating than they are.
Baltasar Kormákur: Yeah. [Laughs] They are just like cows with horns.
WGTC: Do you prefer making films in Hollywood where there’s a larger budget but you have more studio pressure on your back, or do you prefer working with a lower budget but having more creative control?
Baltasar Kormákur: The more creative control you can have the better. But at the same time, it doesn’t mean necessarily that people are making the same film. If everyone’s honest about what they’re trying to make, you don’t lose a lot of creative control. I do also realize I cannot just go and make whatever comes to my mind when I have a $60 million budget. I can’t have all of the actors die in the end when it’s not in the script. I produce a lot of my own films, I’ve done smaller films in Iceland and I still do that. You want to bring as much artistic integrity into it as you can. The more power you have to do that, the better. And that’s my intention.
WGTC: How are you preparing for Everest?
Baltasar Kormákur: I was just out bicycling in a storm to get into shape just to be able to stand out there. I’ve been in Nepal already and on Everest. So we’re doing a lot of prep. Some of the actors have been climbing a lot. That’s a whole different kind of movie, a lot more serious and hardcore.
WGTC: When are you going to start shooting that?
Baltasar Kormákur: At the beginning of January. It’ll be shot in Nepal, and then we’ll go up to Everest and then we’ll shoot a lot in the Dolomites in Italy. Then we’ll be in a studio in London and maybe some stuff will be shot in Iceland. We’re still figuring out a couple of things. It’s a very complicated location shoot.
WGTC: Iceland’s becoming a very popular place to shoot big-budget films. With the country becoming such a popular place for production, could this result in a boom for the national industry?
Baltasar Kormákur: It has already. Thor shot here, Walter Mitty shot here, there was Noah from Darren Aronofsky. And I’m forgetting some big movies, as well. Ridley Scott shot a big movie here.
Baltasar Kormákur: And Oblivion shot here. It’s big. That came at a really good time for us because we had a downfall in the local production because of the collapse of the banks and the economy. All of the people who went to work on those big movies got us through those years. It’s fantastic because people were trained to work in those bigger movies and got experience, and that actually does a lot for the local business.
WGTC: Any interest in returning for a 2 Guns sequel?
Baltasar Kormákur: Yes. If there will be one, I would be interested in being part of that discussion. Absolutely.
That concludes our interview but we’d like to thank Baltasar for his time. Be sure to check out 2 Guns, now on Blu-Ray/DVD.