Director Kenneth Branagh talks JACK RYAN; playing the villain and choosing the genre

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So last week we brought you news that celebrated thespian (no, that doesn’t mean he only likes girls) Sir Kenneth Branagh would not only be behind the camera for Jack Ryan, but also be engaging in some Russian moustache-twirling as the film’s primary villain as well.

Now the recently knighted British filmmaker spoke up about why he chose to pull the double duty.

“Variety is very, very good.  Going from medium to medium, if you get the chance to do it, from theater to television to film, which are all distinctly different, keeps me sharp.  What works in one doesn’t work in the other, and you have to be looking for the truth of the performance, whatever way that medium might demand.  Jack Ryan is a very fast-paced, very contemporary, very action-driven thriller.  I don’t tend to think of him as a villain, but if you’re playing a villain, you don’t think of him as a villain.  You just think, ‘My guy.’  The character is a great anti-thesis, but it isn’t as simple as that.  It’s great to see a character in this film with Jack Ryan.  It’s just a very strong, very interesting, complicated, complex character.  When the project first came my way, it was really to do that.  I had a long time to think about that prospect, before actually eventually having them ask me to direct it.  And then, we put aside the issue of me being in it for awhile ‘cause there were so many other things to deal with.  Literally, months later, Paramount said, ‘Well, do you think you might?,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I think I’d like to.’

So, now I’m going to direct and be in it, yeah.”

Besides for just deciding which side of the camera he’ll be on, Branagh also faced a rather unique problem in that star Chris Pine wanted the film to be a espionage character piece, while producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Paramount studios had their own ideas, from straight up gung ho action to suspense thriller. Acclaimed screenwriter David Koepp was then brought in to help Branagh give the script the direction it needed. And apparently he’s not done helping yet.

“It’s evolving still, but it’s been a really great process with David Koepp.  All the key players are involved.  Chris Pine has made tremendous contributions, as has Lorenzo di Bonaventura.  He was with the franchise before.  My job is guiding all that.  I feel very, very happy with the way it’s going.  I feel my job is basically to bring all those influences together in a piece that is about something very, very particular, thematically, and people seem happy with that.  I think that a lot of exciting elements are finding a place where the film is happily, truly about something.  When you get that under something that is also a page-turner and has a high adrenalin factor, I think that’s a nice combination.  I have high hopes for the picture.”

Along with the fact that the film will start shooting in September with the the hopes to wrap up in September, Branagh also reveals that he while Jack Ryan will not shot in either 3D or IMAX, that the director may have some other ideas for the newer cinematic technologies.

“I’m still having conversations with our director of photography, but this particular film is unlikely to be in either of those formats.  Although, as a filmmaker, I would like to do an IMAX 3D Shakespeare film.  Instead of going to some strange part of the world and it’s a rainy afternoon and you’re looking for something to do, so you go to the IMAX theater, but you’re always watching the story of wolves or things that I understand to absolutely get jumping up and down about, I fancy a 40-minute A Midsummer Night’s Dream in IMAX 3D.  I think we could cut that.  Otherwise, it’s Secrets of the Door Handle: An IMAX 40-Minute Special,with great sweeping shots through the locks.”

Last Updated: July 23, 2012

Read  Murder on the Orient Express to get a 'sequel'

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions – but very little sleep – I’ve been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

  • Erwin Kempff

    lol when I read “Jack Ryan” I thought of Bioshock…

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