Speaking to that, we asked what Mark’s thematic entry point was to the film:
Mark Protosevich: I first got involved in this because I got a call from Will Smith, who I worked with on I Am Legend, and he said, “I want you to write my next movie, it’s a remake of Oldboy and Steven Spielberg is going to direct it.” Two days later I was on a plane to LA and I was meeting Spielberg. That was going to be the package, and then it completely fell apart.
That may have been the initial interesting hook for me, working with them on this, as opposed to just being asked if I was interested in remaking Oldboy. But when that fell apart, I had become so passionate about the material and had worked out a 30 page treatment, I had the movie clear in my head and the producer still wanted to movie forward, so I said, “I’m in.”
This one really meant something to me. You can get into the whole issue of fundamentalists out there who feel that the original movie should never have been remade, and I respect their feelings and there’s nothing I can do to change that, but there are, in the course of history, some fairly good pairs, in terms of English language versions of foreign films and remakes of classics. I’m glad David Cronenberg remade The Fly. There’s a Japanese version of Unforgiven that’s coming out. See, I’m curious about that! I’m not saying, “How dare they remake that!” I’m curious about that. I think there’s something good to keeping an open mind.
Relating back to the original, we asked if they’d ever met Park Chan-Wook:
Mark Protosevich: I did not.
Pom Klementieff: I met him! At Sundance. I was like, “Ahh! Nice to meet you! I’m a huge fan! I’m half Korean and in a movie by Spike Lee!” He was like, “Oh, great! How was it to work with Spike!” It was amazing.
Touching back on when this was a Spielberg/Smith project, we asked if Mark’s approach changed once Spike Lee and Josh Brolin got on board:
Mark Protosevich: The interesting thing about that whole situation is that I had about three meetings with Steven, and in one of the first meetings he said, “My son will kill me if we don’t make this movie as intense as the original.” In his mind, we were going to go there. Now, I don’t think he ever had that conversation with Will, so who knows what might have happened, but even in those early stages there was encouragement to go for it. One of the other assumptions is that we were going to wimp out and make it a little more palatable for mass audience, and I can assure you that we did not do that.
Then it became the producers and I sitting in a room saying, “Let’s go forward. Let’s get a draft of the script we’re all happy with, then get an actor and a director to put this together.” That became the process at that time. It was a lower budget movie at that point. It was not going to be big, it was a fairly modest production even then. I can’t remember anyone ever expressing that we were going too far. I think we all just jumped in the pool with a hammer and a razor to see what would happen.
Speaking specifically to Mark’s ending, we brought up that a producer recently revealed that it was more twisted than Park Chan-Wook’s ending:
Mark Protosevich: That’s the way he felt. That’s the way some other people have felt, actually, so you can be the judge. You tell me after you’ve seen the movie.
That concludes our interview but I’d like to thank Pom Klementieff and Mark Protosevich for their time. Be sure to catch Oldboy when it opens nation wide on November 27th!