I’m enough of an ou toppie to have first got to know Gavin Hood as a paraplegic rugby player in local 1989 TV series The Game. Of course the rest of the world would really get to know Hood from 2005’s Tsotsi which would win the South African actor turned director the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and catapult him into the Hollywood limelight. And during a press event and screening in Miami for his latest film Eye in the Sky (via IndieWire), Hood explain that the sudden attention post-Tsotsi was something he was completely unprepared for:
“When ‘Tsotsi’ happened, the best we were hoping for, frankly, was to get the film released in our own country. It was made for a very low budget, and so the event that followed, including the Oscar, were not something you planned, and they came, frankly, as a huge shock, and I thought we were very lucky, and it could have been somebody else, but when it happened, Hollywood has a strange sense of calling, and when you’re young, you have a strange way of being flattered by that call, for good or bad.”
That Hollywood call would lead Hood to make 2007 abduction thriller-drama Rendition with Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon. The film was a bust at the box office, but Hood says that making it was a “very good experience” as the studio gave him full control to tell the story he wanted. That all changed with X-Men Origins: Wolverine though.
Hood revealed it was Wolverine himself Hugh Jackman who actually approached him to direct the X-Men spinoff, which seemed to be outside the wheelhouse of the more dramatically focused Hood.
“He’s a great guy to this day, and he’d seen ‘Tsotsi,’ and he really felt that he wanted to try to make this film about a guy who is a superhero, but doesn’t really like what he does and has all this post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Unfortunately, to anybody who’s seen the movie, that is definitely not what we got. Was it not for the failure of Brett Ratner’s X-Men 3, X-Men Origins: Wolverine would be considered by many to be the worst movie in the franchise, with it’s mangling of popular characters and horribly dodgy special effects. So what happened?
To put it shortly: Hood never had control of the movie. In an unprecedented bit of candor from the director, he revealed to the press in attendance that he had to deal with stunt casting from the studio, how he clashed with a second unit director who had a totally different vision of what the movie should be (“I felt the action looked like ‘80s action”), and of course it didn’t help that Fox were unwilling to budge on the film’s release date despite the fact that the infamous Writers Guild strike left them with an incomplete screenplay. Characters like Deadpool and Gambit were thrown into the script at the last minute without Hood’s approval, and even more ridiculously, when the movie’s title was changed, Hood only found out about it when Jackman happened to accidentally spot it on IMDB.
But even with all that, Hood doesn’t put the blame for what happened wholly on the studios, admitting that despite Wolverine‘s infamy, it paved the way for more opportunities, like his latest film Eye In the Sky, a taut, morally complex political thriller that has been drawing rave reviews.
“I’m very grateful because I managed to buy a house off that film, so don’t get me wrong. I own the mistakes I made. I learned a great deal, but I hope that the film tonight is more in my wheel house. If you don’t like the film, you can tell me after. I come back for Q&A, and I have no one to blame. It comes from working with a writer who I loved, prepping it with producers who really wanted to make the same movie, and that’s the Hollywood story.”
After the screening for Eye In the Sky, Hood came back for the Q&A as promised but was instead just greeted by a massive round of applause. According to IndieWire, Hood was incredibly grateful
Eye In the Sky opened this weekend past and is playing in cinemas right now.
Last Updated: March 16, 2016