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Zack Snyder’s two-part sci-fi epic, Rebel Moon, is coming to Netflix and Screen Rant sat down to speak with Snyder and star Sofia Boutella on the set towards the end of principal photography to lean about the movie’s development process, Boutella’s inspiration for her role of Kora, and Zack Snyder’s experience growing wheat in his backyard. Rebel Moon is shaping up to be one of the biggest movies Netflix has ever made, and Snyder already talking about making more of them.
Both Rebel Moon movies were shot back-to-back, with Rebel Moon: A Child of Fire releasing December 22nd, 2023, and Rebel Moon: The Scargiver releasing April 19th, 2024. During Screen Rant’s visit to the set we saw a sneak peek of the massive universe Zack Snyder is building with Rebel Moon.
Related: Everything We Learned on the Set of Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon
Thank you guys so much for having us out here.
Zack Snyder: Thanks for coming out.
Zack, I’m curious how the story has changed in your head for the amount of time you’ve been sort of thinking about it and working on it.
Zack Snyder: It’s a good question because the small evolutions that happen with a story sometimes, and I haven’t done the work of going back to review like old notes and stuff to see what big elements might have changed, but I think the interesting thing is the way Veldt evolved and really became its own thing and really kind of was much more — because in the early days I always thought it was like generic village, you know. I didn’t care as much about the village. Because I was like, I like all the space guys and the warriors so, you know, it was like the villagers were like kind of like, oh great, like exhausting.
But as we made the movie I really — it became such a big part of the sort of culture and we really took a deep dive on the culture and became its own thing and the actors were so amazing and we just had a really fun time making, and even like, you know, we had like a real — the community of actors that we had up there in Veldt that really never leave that set. Don’t know anything about the rest of the movie. You know, never — as far as they’re concerned it’s pretty much a movie about harvesting wheat with a weird fight at the end. So, yeah, I just think that’s fun
Deborah Snyder: By the way, they had — they bonded.
Zack Snyder: Oh yeah. They really all cried at the end. It was really emotional, you know.
Deborah Snyder: Because we wanted it to be the same people, like not just have day players that were different all the time. And we did this cool thing at the very end of the movie where there’s like this — it’s hard to explain and I’m not going to try to other than — there’s like this musical element at the final like there’s a big funeral you can imagine because not everybody lives. I don’t think that’s a spoiler.
Like the Ewoks?
Zack Snyder: Very much like the Ewok. It’s very inspired by Zug Zug. No. Hopefully — well, you know, who knows? That movie did okay. But not my favorite Star Wars movie though, I’ll be honest. But yeah, it was really cool to like, a lot of the actors didn’t know that was going to happen and they all were like, “Oh.” Wasn’t as upbeat maybe as say, the Ewoks. We have an Ewok for a dog actually.
It’s already has a reputation that it was going to be a Star Wars movie and now is not. But Debbie [Snyder] said that it’s been in development since even before that.
Zack Snyder: Yep. Yep, yep.
At this point are you concerned about or even excited about comparisons? Is that something you’re leaning into or away from?
Zack Snyder: I don’t think you can make a sci-fi movie now that’s not going to be compared to a Star Wars movie in some way. And so I do welcome and sort of am happy to discuss where its place sort of is or where it will end up in popular culture in regard to the legacy of Star Wars and how Star Wars has sort of the lion’s share of sort of creative thinking when it comes to sort of audiences and their love of the Star Wars universe and that evolution. And it’s a rare thing of course because Star Wars — you know the fan base basically just aged with the movies and then had children that then also became fans of the movie and their children had children that became fans of the movie. So it’s not like — I do also understand the love of it and sort of the — how canonized it is and actually how kind of immobile it is which is probably why I’m here now doing it the way I’m doing it. Because you know we really — we kind of have no rules and you know except for the ones we make and you know I’m only hopeful that like you know someone long after we’re done making these movies is going like “no that’s not right” because something that we did by accident is like now a thing that can’t be changed. You know. Anyway, not saying that that ever happened but —
Were there any changes that happened while you were — like did you work with George to kind of adapt —
Zack Snyder: No, no it never got there. It never got that far. We were just literally you know it was more of in the pitching stages and sort of discussion stages that we kind of realized that. And also you know the sale happened and I had just finished Man of Steel and we were in post. And so then we were getting ready to do BvS and it wasn’t really — I wasn’t going to not do BvS, you know? And so it was going to be like look I can do this at some point, but you know they had kind of made a pretty hard plan once they made the sale about how they were going to — what Star Wars was going [to be] into the future.
So you say it was a pitch. Who did you meet with?
Zack Snyder: Just Kathleen [Kennedy].
You talk about you know we’ve seen a lot of the scope of the movie and the ensemble and all the world. Huge story. But for you what’s like the core like the throughline of this story?
Zack Snyder: I think at the end it’s a pretty straightforward good versus evil, few against many kind of concept you know or sort of the under — it’s a huge underdog kind of movie because really the villagers shouldn’t — they don’t have a chance really. And it’s only through their kind of you know say the genius of Titus, Djimon’s character, and the tenacious villagers and some trickery and then Kora just being insane that you end up you know with a victory. But you know it is — at the end of the movie I mean not to say you know it’s — it is a movie that even in its concept would beg for a follow-up regardless of whether you made one only because the empire is gigantic, the Imperium is ridiculously huge and you blow up one ship and they’re not going to be happy about it. You know it’s not like you’re like “they’ll never come back now, yay.” So that’s the — I mean so at the end of the movie there is a — the way we designed it is that they kind of are on the offensive at the end. You know they have to kind of bring the fight to them because otherwise they can’t wait.
But yeah, so yeah I think that that’s kind of to me what it’s about is this you know and it’s also very much really kind of clear with the morality like who’s good and who’s bad. We don’t do a lot of like “oh you know the Imperium they’re just misunderstood, you know, as far as they’re concerned they’re the good guys.” It’s not really like that you know.
Related: Rebel Moon Set Visit Interview With Ed Skrein
Ed [Skrein] made that pretty clear
Deborah Snyder: By the way it’s the heroes that are kind of a little bit more ambiguous.
Zack Snyder: Yeah I would say the heroes are kind that’s true.
Deborah Snyder: It’s a big redemption story.
Zack Snyder: For them, it’s trying to — a lot of them is trying to make amends and set things right you know. Because you know Kora and Titus were both you know from the mother world you know that’s where they — I mean Titus is from a conquered planet that was…I had this idea for Djimon’s character and that that character had come from a planet that had been colonized by the mother world and that you know a generation before he was born and that in the tradition of sort of the colonizer sort of the best and the brightest are brought back to the mother world to study or to in his case you know to do military service but that is not — you know he’s an import you know he’s from a conquered nation and he’s here you know to be indoctrinated into like that way of thinking and you know and it’s only back on his home world when he’s visiting or when he was growing up did his nanny or his grandmother teach him about his own culture before the Imperium before the mother world invaded you know and that’s how he knows about his world. So you get like little bits of his culture and we kind of used a little bit of this sort of Nigerian culture and sort of history of sort of colonization of Africa as a sort of model that was like, Djimon was like “oh yeah this happened you know like this is normal — this is…”
[Sofia Boutella joins interview]
Sofia Boutella: Hi, I’m Sofia. I’m Sofia. And I’m a workaholic.
Zack Snyder: Did you say rockaholic?
Sofia Boutella: Workaholic
Zack Snyder: Oh, I thought you said “I’m a rockaholic” and I was like “oh cool.” But yeah so like you know and I think that that — I think that a lot of you know what we try to do and even like I would say even like you know so for Sofia’s backstory we’re using a little bit of like Algerian kind of like architecture and stuff like that in the like for her world it got conquered because this is kind of like how they do it you know the Motherworld kind of just they’re like acquiring and they have been for you know like the old king is much more a straight up imperialist but like in the tradition you know where I feel like the Regent Balsarius he’s much more like you know like a dictator like you know he’d be happy to like raze a planet just for its natural resources rather than like “oh we should like land and see what the people are like and maybe some of them can fight for us” and you know like “maybe we could like assimilate their culture into ours” where it was a much more sort of you know 18th century imperialism where now the modern Imperium is much more aggressive than — that was aggressive, and now it’s worse.
Related: Rebel Moon Characters & Backstories Explained: All Heroes, Villains & Cameos
What kind of real world or historical like empires were you…?
Zack Snyder: Yeah I mean a lot of —
Zack Snyder: Yeah well historical or like sort of cultural like using history as sort of a template?
Yeah because I mean I saw sort of like — Well it’s a lot of — You think Nazi, Roman, Stalinist —
Zack Snyder: Of course. — stuff. Yes. And the way empires work. Correct. Yeah, yeah and that’s really a lot of our inspiration came from that and a lot of you know because a lot of the costumes are — I think the officers costumes are influenced a lot by like sort of Soviet era costumes you know color wise especially you know the green and red and then yeah very much Roman — And Pollux. And Pollux is usually Roman yeah but also just — And I think that in the movie we always — there is reference to our reference to our reference all over the place you know just because I like that sort of thing. So like you can inside the design you can find the clues that show like oh where we got the idea and some of that stuff so I think that’s fun.
Sorry to make you do this in front of her, but casting Kora has to be integral.
Zack Snyder: It was. I mean like she’s the thing. She’s the why of the movie and Sofia’s done a lot of amazing job and is certainly that so yeah.
But what did you see in her specifically?
Zack Snyder: Well, well she absolutely should be here as a roast. Have the other people come out. Guys, no I mean we did — I mean look I wanted Sofia from the beginning of the casting process. I have you know when I’ve seen her in movies and I’ve always been like oh she’s awesome. I don’t know something about her that I think is cool, everything I guess. And then when we did sort of casting process and we did this little scene you know.
Deborah Snyder: Well first she said in the tape because we were still in COVID and we were just doing the same thing. We were still in COVID.
Zack Snyder: Oh that’s right.
Deborah Snyder: A lot of people like that’s all different right. Where you just these things arrive on your you know they get uploaded and they’re not like it used to be that they’d sit with a casting agent and do the first one and we would just get them. And some of them are wacky and then but I mean from the moment we saw — sorry Sofia if I embarrass you. But from the moment we saw that first tape and then we did a whole big call but you know we did a screen test so.
Zack Snyder: Yeah and she was just clearly the best by far. I was like “see, could have saved a bunch of money, but that’s fine. Glad everyone’s confident now.” But yeah and so and you know and the funny thing was and is that you know this the fact that you know Sophia’s really physical and understands and has done an amazing job with the fights and has done pretty much everything in the movie is kind of a little side benefit for me of because if she was the most uncoordinated person in the world I would have put her in the movie. So it turned out that she’s actually quite quite coordinated and thank God because it would have been really hard to do. So thank you for that. Thank you. Whatever. Ancestors. Going back. But yeah it’s no so it’s so that part’s a gift and we’ve I think taken full advantage of it and wore her down. She’s going to need to go on vacation when the movie’s over.
Sofia Boutella: I’m used to it, but I haven’t done it in a long time. This is the hardest project that [I’ve done] since I was dancing on tour. Oh really? Or the closest in terms of intensity and length and I suppose pace also. It’s minus we have to travel all the time but the physical aspect and the pace is the closest.
Deborah Snyder: This is also emotional. I mean your character goes through quite an arc like that must be draining too.
Zack Snyder: So it’s like doing a touring with a show but then also having like a romance alongside of it.
Sofia Boutella: Which happens. You have to perform for them. Oh great.
Now it’s your turn. Tell us about working with Zack and Debbie
Sofia Boutella: Well I mean he’s amazing. He’s a genius.
Zack Snyder: That’s kind.
Sofia Boutella: Do you have to do that “la la la”? [gestures for Snyder to cover his ears]
Zack Snyder: No I don’t because I love that. I love that. More. First time I’ve heard that since my mother.
Sofia Boutella: He’s very quick. I love how quick he is with like notes and that pace works well for me. I have ADHD and I love to respond quicker to notes without, you know, with thought process obviously not without thinking. But I love that about him but I was so amazed and impressed with not that I’m surprised but with the way how prepared he is and how good what I see on the screen is. I don’t know very much his aspect and his side of what he does but it’s so gratifying when you get to do action like this and for it to be captured so well I feel very grateful. And I wanted my next project that if it was physical again from the previous one that I’ve done I wanted it to be special and to be meaningful and it could have not been better. Yeah.
Sofia did you spend a lot of time with Zack talking about the character because you know the IP comes from Zack right?
Sofia Boutella: I think we talked after I sent the tape before the screen test we talked for like three hours over Skype and he told me the story from the beginning to the very end as it was in the script.
Zack Snyder: Yeah I guess I did.
Sofia Boutella: He basically read the script. And I still have my notes in my phone.
Zack Snyder: Oh really?
Sofia Boutella: It’s actually funny if you read them because it’s like Daggus never says like all the words are scattered. I still have my list.
Zack Snyder: Oh she says Daggus.
Sofia Boutella: Yeah I’ll show it to you. I looked at it the other day and then so that was three hours about that and then we did the screen test together and then we could talk any time and then again I went to your house and we sat down with Misha for another three, four hours talked about a bunch of stuff and then I had another million questions and then it felt bad so I asked if I could talk to Kurt [Johnstad] because I had like just minute questions but yeah I ask too many questions.
Deborah Snyder: Not too many because she really really I think it’s been super impressive how prepared you talk about prepared, she’s so prepared just I think with who the character is and wanting to know all the back story and you know I think it gives a richness of the character when you have all the details and the history and everything where she came from.
Sofia Boutella: All the note he gave me. Look it goes on forever. What were we saying?
So it was a screen test in person because I’m not sure how COVID….
Zack Snyder: Yeah we did.
Sofia Boutella: It was here.
On Sunset Gower [Studio]?
Sofia Boutella: Yeah same stage.
Wesley Coller: Same stage we’re on today.
Sofia Boutella: Same stage we’re on today, wow.
Zack Snyder: Yeah that’s weird. Yeah same stage. That was like, how long ago was that?
Sofia Boutella: That was over a year ago. That was end of August 2021. That’s cool.
Deborah Snyder: Yeah because no I mean honestly you were like because you’re the center of the film it was like the first thing. Yeah because we knew we had to have you and then the rest of it we’d make the rest sort of make sense.
Sofia Boutella: I had that script I think a year ago now and after the test was a year ago. And then I kept re-reading it so many times it was so hard to get a grasp on the story because so many new names, people’s names were different and places and I had to break it down and do two boards for each script and do flashcards with different colors so that I could see the script and that was really helpful and then I read with With Ray.
Zack Snyder: With Ray?
Sofia Boutella: Ray Ray. He had the studio a few times. It was helpful to read with somebody. Ray Porter.
Zack Snyder: Ray Porter. Yeah it’s Ray Porter because he has a small part in the movie and he also when we were in the early part he would read the script to me. Like I’d write it and then I would go read it back to me.
Deborah Snyder: Because he does books on tape too.
Zack Snyder: You know and so he’d read the whole thing.
Deborah Snyder: So his voice is so great for like reading you know when you sit down and want to hear the script thing.
Zack Snyder: Like every day you know before I come to work I listen to Ray read the scene. Like I have the scenes. Let me see if I have.
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In different characters?
Sofia Boutella: He does do acccents in different voices.
Deborah Snyder: Like a book on tape right?
Yeah. That they differentiate.
Zack Snyder: So like on the drive in I’ll like listen to it to remind me. Like “oh yeah that’s what we’re doing.” Hear the dialogue and everything. It’s good. It’s good fun. It’s actually really good. I’ve never done it before a movie but I would do it that way from now on. You know like you sit in the car and you have your script and you get carsick and you’re kind of like “oh God this is exhausting.” But if you just put your headphones on and actually because you know we write. Because I wrote the script but I’m always like “what did we say? Like what was that?” You know and it’s just nice to kind of hear it back and be like “oh yeah that’s right because that was…” We gave that a lot of thought. There was supposed to be a, you know two years ago that’s all I cared about. You know now it seems like that the document becomes abstract. You’re like “did I write this? I never meant that. That’s crazy.”
Sofia Boutella: You started writing it two years ago?
Zack Snyder: Longer.
Deborah Snyder: No, 20 years ago.
Zack Snyder: Yeah for sure.
Deborah Snyder: Before me. Before we were married.
Sofia Boutella: Before you were married?
Zack Snyder: I had the idea probably. I don’t know if I put too much down.
Deborah Snyder: You had a lot of like papers. And you’d be like where did that binder go? I was like I don’t know. He’s like I know you threw it away.
Where did it start then?
Zack Snyder: It started I think in college I had said. I think in college I had said something to my professor about like “what about Dirty Dozen in space? Or like an ensemble movie like Seven Samurai in space.” And he’s like “that’s a pretty good pitch.” “That’s a pretty good – what about it?” And I was like “well…” because it was like one of those classes where you’re like supposed to pitch a movie. And then I was like that is cool. And then we did try and sell it as a video game and as a movie at Warner Brothers a couple of times. We pitched it to them. They were like “oh.” Because I had this idea at the time that I was like “okay I really want to do…” and I still would love to at some point. I don’t know if it’s going to be this movie or maybe the sequel or whatever or Army of the Dead 2 or something. But like a really like I don’t think anyone’s nailed the, you know, giant video game and movie at the exact same time. You know? Like really nailed it. Like where the video game is as good as the movie. And the movie is as good as the video game. And they cross-pollinate and there’s Easter eggs in both. And I wanted to do it. And [Warner Bros.] were like “no, I don’t know.” I was like “okay.”
Deborah Snyder: A video game has too much wait time.
Zack Snyder: Yeah it does take a long time.
Deborah Snyder: And you’re like, “well let’s see if the movie’s good.” And then you’re like well… Yeah that’s the problem. Or it’s going to be a crappy game.
Zack Snyder: The bet. It’s all about like a bet. You know no one wants to take a bet.
Unless it’s an existing IP.
Zack Snyder: Yeah existing IP. Yeah we’ll do, you know, Wizard of Oz or something. And you’re like “okay well.” And the existing IP is always some shit fight over “oh we don’t own the rights to the game. We sold those. So we only can do a board game. But not a video game.” I’m like oh okay now we. You know that’s the kind of stuff that happens.
I was saying they got to do the board game. We saw it in the prop department. They had the gambling game.
Zack Snyder: Oh yeah.
You need to sell that.
Zack Snyder: Yeah that’s true. Yeah it’s always been a. It’s always been a bit of a- That part’s always been a thing that it’s a holy grail that I’ve. I don’t know. You know it’s still out there I guess.
Zack could you elaborate on lava and the way the weapons are powered by lava.
Zack Snyder: Okay well it’s not really lava as the way I describe it. So don’t get too hung up on lava itself. Everybody loves lava. And that is true everyone does love lava. But it’s more just like a visual. Like whenever I try and describe it. Well, also I say like you know like in. When metal drips out of a foundry.
Zack Snyder: That’s kind of how like that’s what the bullets are like. They’re like some sort of liquid.
Zack Snyder: Metal plasma something. So if I fired it. It would splash into the wall but you know make a huge. Almost like if you shot it into like. Into a piece of metal you know it had this beautiful kind of like.
Zack Snyder: Where you’d have this beautiful kind of cratered. Like a drop of water that got frozen. You know kind of a vibe.
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So what does that do when it hits people?
Zack Snyder: It’s not super forgiving I guess.
Sofia Boutella: But it goes through clothes so you don’t see really.
Zack Snyder: It definitely goes through clothes, yeah. I mean you know we have a huge R&D period ahead of us for how that does look. Right. Yeah maybe it just passes cleanly through you. I don’t know. That might be nice.
Zack Zack Snyder: Cauterizing, you’re fine! Dang it! These guns don’t work! You have to hit some vital organs I guess. Yeah. But yeah so that’s a good question.
What kind of training have you been doing or did you do prior?
Sofia Boutella: On this?
Sofia Boutella: We trained with our trainer Alessandra. He’s been training everybody.
Zack Snyder: For the muscles?
Sofia Boutella: For muscles. And we’ve been also on a diet that makes sure you know that we’re not eating in a bad way so that we can sustain all the energy we have to let out. And then I did also Pilates.
Ed [Skrein] eats like eight apples a day he says.
Sofia Boutella: Wow. He’s very- that’s too much sugar for me. I do the mangoes. I do the chicken. I think at first we were not using so much salt and then we weren’t using salt and then it’s like calculated in a way that I don’t understand because I’m not a nutritionist. But I was following it and every once in a while I would have to have chocolate cake. That’s very rare. But that’s the truth.
Zack Snyder: That’s real.
Sofia Boutella: Because we’re human after all. We started in January. It’s a long time. Yeah.
Zack Snyder: They’re ready for the chocolate cake.
Sofia Boutella: Yeah. So just very, very, very.
So when this movie wraps, the first thing you’re going to do is eat what?
Sofia Boutella: No, I mean I do intermittent fasting a lot of the time by default because I don’t like to wake up and eat. And I would drink and only — at least listen when I’m hungry. Pretty much. That’s what I do. But yeah, it’s quite physical and very demanding of our body and energy. But it’s nothing — for me it’s like it feels safe also in a way for me. What I miss when I’m — I stopped dancing ten years ago. And since then I’ve only done one dance film. But I do — I don’t even take dance classes, but I do Pilates. But it’s comforting for me to be here and to demand so much of my body. It feels like home in a way. And I missed it. And it’s nice to go revisit that aspect of what I’ve trained since I was four with. Even though I’m referring to dancing, but I approach our fight scene the same way.
Sofia, what do you want audiences to take away from Kora, her journey?
Sofia Boutella: Oof. Just, you know, that what I love about this film, even when I read it the first time, I felt what’s happening emotionally and psychologically for the characters. And within the story is a lot and very deep. And I think that the character is very relatable. There was a lot of moments where I didn’t know how to approach a certain aspect. They were very complicated psychologically, I think. And we’re getting closer to them when we get to the back story, I think, soon. But what I think is just that, you know, I think it’s very relatable and human. And I think I have a better aspect, you know, of talking about her once I’m done. But maybe something that they can feel and be inspired by, hopefully. But that’s in general the whole film and character, every other character.
Before your three-hour call with Zack, what was it about the character that you learned that first made you say, like, “oh, I want to do that, or I’m interested in that?”
Sofia Boutella: Well, I want[ed] to work with him [Zack]. But on top of that, I think that — I think there was a lot of stuff that I could relate to for myself. I was born in Algeria, and I never — Kora is found on another planet that’s not her home. She was abducted. I was not abducted. But my roots are not necessarily where I live and not where I grew up and not where I was born. And I can relate to that. There was a sense of freedom to that aspect, but also a sense of home is everywhere, but not specifically somewhere. That was very relatable for me. And then not to be dramatic, but there was a civil war growing up in my country. And not that it was as dangerous as, an actual war, but I grew up in that environment. And it’s lodged somewhere in me, and I felt that, oh, yeah, I think I can do that.
Zack Snyder: That’s cool.
Just in terms of her being a heroine, they had mentioned before that, you know, the heroes are a little bit more messy. You know, in terms of motivation. How would you kind of frame her in terms of her arc in this movie? Is it, did she go from one emotion to something else, a world view change?
Sofia Boutella: Yeah, there’s absolutely an arc. There are various arcs, actually. And what I like about her is that she’s made choices without blaming it on other people, but they’re not necessarily the first thing that you can go, like, for the heroine. Go, oh, okay, I stand for that. That’s right. That’s why I’m saying it’s very human. It’s not obviously the hero. There are some downfalls to her and some bad choices that she’s made that, that way that makes her human.
In terms of, you know, you’ve been thinking about this for a really long time, and you get to do these films, you’re with a partner now that wants to have more stories. You know, they want you to build, this is original IP. You haven’t worked in a series, you know, environment before. As you make all these incredibly rich wardrobes and languages and all these world, have you thought about how you’d like to see it expanded? Does it feel like, you know, going into serialized storytelling over a longer period of time? Is it attractive?
Zack Snyder: It is attractive to me. I mean, with this, it’s a great, I’m not bored or like feel like, you know, we’ve done it completely, you know. Even though we’ve shot for 130 days.
Is that your longest? Is that the longest?
Zack Snyder: It will be the longest when we’re done. Yeah, BvS I think was close, but not. This will be like 20 days longer.
Deborah Snyder: I think we’re a couple days shy of BvS.
Zack Snyder: Are we really?
Deborah Snyder: Yeah, we are
Zack Snyder: That’s epic. That’s cool. Twisted. That’s cool. This is two movies.
Deborah Snyder: Oh, well maybe we have to add two days.
Zack Snyder: It’s fine. I’m fine to be done. You know, because, yeah, no, it’s just a, it’s a pretty, it’s been pretty immersive and pretty fun kind of building out the world. So, absolutely, I’m excited about it.
Deborah Snyder: We have some ideas.
Zack Snyder: Yeah, and I thought about it a lot. You know, it’s funny because like, you know, I was trying to figure out like the cadence and how we would go forward and like whether we’re going to go to, you know, the Army of the Dead sequel and then come back and do another one of these movies if it’s desired. That’s a pretty, those, you know, because Army goes completely nuts, you know, in the, if we were to make another Army movie other than, you know, the, you know, the, the, the, the Mathias arm of Army Universe has its own sort of thing happening, but sort of the main trunk goes pretty, gets pretty twisted as it goes, goes up. But, which I, which I like, but, and then to sort of have these two things kind of, you know, it would be nice if they, you know, because you could kind of go back and forth between the two.
What was your experience like, I know Army had a theatrical run, but having a movie go to streaming, what was your experience with getting it out there and the feedback?
Zack Snyder: It was, I thought it was, I had a great time with it. I had a great experience and Netflix has been amazing and.
Deborah Snyder: We were during the pandemic though, right? It was weird. Everything was a little weird, like even just doing, like we haven’t seen people like you guys since like we were shooting or whatever and then everything kind of shut down and then everything was just virtual. That was strange.
Zack Snyder: Did we do, for JL, did we do any press?
Deborah Snyder: Everything was online. Virtual. Yeah, everything was virtual. It was all virtual.
We were on set for Army and you were talking about people going around with temperature guns and checking everyone for the [zombie plague], and then like we’re leading up into doing press for Army and…
Deborah Snyder: So strange, right?
Zack Snyder: It was literally, yeah. You’re like, okay, is this a gimmick for the movie? Yeah. It’s funny. Literally viral marketing. I’m like, that’s cool, we’re going into zombie isolation camp to do the press. No, it’s actually COVID. Yeah, that’s funny. It’s true.
Deborah Snyder: I mean, the cool thing I will say about Netflix is like with Army, like they’re more emboldened, I guess. They make, like the fact that we’re working on an animated series and they greenlit our, Matthias’ [Schweighöfer] movie that Shay [Hatten] had wrote and Zack wrote the story before we even had the first one out. Like we were able to have them come close together and I think they, like it worked I think really well. The two movies kind of drafted off of each other and hopefully they’ll do more of those types of things.
Zack Snyder: And by the way, it was really, it worked really well for them. So it was a good. Yeah. It was cool. The bet was correct, which I think is fun. Everyone is waiting for the sure thing most of the time before they want to move forward. That’s the IP issue.
You’re a stickler for your genre. Genre purity matters to you in a lot of ways. For something like this, people who are interested in the genre really care about the difference between sci-fi, fantasy and hard sci-fi. How would you–
Zack Snyder: Sci-fi/fantasy, for sure. I always say it’s sort of heavy metal sci-fi in a lot of ways. I’m a huge fan of that illustrated fantasy magazine. I just like the idea that this movie would exist more in that kind of–there’s a weirdness to the sci-fi weirdness that I love. Everything’s just not that straightforward. There’s a million mysteries, a lot of questions. We’ve kind of gone down a lot of rabbit holes with all these little details throughout the film. I’ve done little back stories and we’ve been talking about doing comic books and some other stuff. I kind of take you on these little tangents because I do that all the time. I think it’s just a cool–in that way, this sort of mythological sci-fi kind of fantasy–it’s not hard 2001 style sci-fi. It’s weirdo sci-fi in a good way.
One of the jokes leveled at modern Star Wars is how quickly can they rush back to Tatooine? But every world you’re going to seems to be visually represented in a completely different way.
Zack Snyder: We try. We try. We try. I always laugh that in Star Wars, it just so happens that the native costumes of this weird Tatooine, this weird planet in the middle of nowhere, happen to be kind of the fashion of the entire universe after you’re really– I guess it’s pretty funny. I thought they were very particular. I guess that’s fine. We really have endeavored to play this–because when you make a sci-fi movie, it’s like, “Okay, well, what is the world? What does the home planet look like? Is everyone going to be–?” They could be anything from–they could all be wearing neon jumpsuits and who knows what to a lot of– There’s a million examples. It could be 1984. It could be something. We’ve had to really–I like the idea of everything is sort of terrestrially inspired because I feel like it makes it really relatable.
Here’s the example. There’s a scene where–and the Motherworld is not Earth, but– There’s a scene where there’s a violin playing. I’m like, “Oh, let’s just get an old violin.” Because you can have a Starship Troopers violin, or you can have a bunch of weirdo violins or weirdo instruments. You’re like, “Oh, right. It’s a space movie, so there’s a weirdo violin that they play like a violin.” I’m like, “No, let’s just get me the oldest violin you can find that’s really worn and looks really threadbare and ancient.” Then that will be the violin. Of course, there’s spaceships and different architecture and all that, but there’s certain touchstones that you’ve got to be really–it makes you think too much. If I see a violin in a space movie, I’m like, “What the fuck?”
Zack Snyder: Yeah, space violin. It was the space violin. It’s like those little details that you really have to–that I’m constantly evaluating how philosophically it sets into the universe. I think that the fact that we have wheat in the movie, the fact that on this other planet, on Veldt, there are deer-like creatures that look like deer, very similar. Jimmy, when he finds the dead deer, he makes that his crown.
Is Jimmy comic relief?
Zack Snyder: No.
Zack Snyder: No. Jimmy is heart attack serious.
Deborah Snyder: He’s humanity.
Zack Snyder: Yeah, he’s the most human character, I think, in the movie. Really?
Deborah Snyder: Ironically, yes. Interesting. Yeah, he is not comic relief.
Zack Snyder: Do we have comic relief?
Deborah Snyder: You do have comic relief.
Zack Snyder: Do we have comic relief? I just said. Do we have comic relief? Uh-oh. Yeah. I think there’s a little bit of–there’s some funny stuff in the movie. I think it’s funny.
Who’s the funniest character?
Zack Snyder: I think probably–
Deborah Snyder: Staz [Nair]?
Zack Snyder: Staz is the funniest. Tarek is probably the funniest. I was just going to show you this picture of the–that we did, because we did this, like, here he is. So we did this cool–we had to–so we built this, like, Jimmy–there’s this little scene where Jimmy is, like, where he finds the dead deer. And so we had to build this, like–we built this–this was, like–I was the greenskeeper, because, like, we built that dead deer and we built a forest. It was, like, in the desert, and I put those mushrooms all over it, and its eyes–we grew all the mushrooms and everything, you know? And so it had this really, like, rich–because, you know, he’s a robot. He’s a war–he’s a robot, combat robot.
So Debbie, he grows wheat and mushrooms?
Deborah Snyder: Jesus. He was nervous, like, what are you doing? There’s people that he’s like, I just have to make it.
I want to know what you learned about growing wheat.
Zack Snyder: Oh, we learned a ton about growing wheat. I know more about growing wheat for fuck’s sake. I even grew wheat at–we grew–I had my own–at the house. Oh, yeah, I had my own wheat, so I could know what was happening, and, like, that you learned also that the modern–modern wheat is shorter than ancient grains, because the ancient grains–modern wheat is all cut with combines, and they–stocks have to be shorter. It allows them to cut the wheat, but, like, and we grew older wheat. Our guy up who helped us [Jacob].
Deborah Snyder: He made beer.
Zack Snyder: He’s a beer maker and does everything. He’s amazing, and he, like, made–he–so he was our–and he’s in the movie a lot, because he taught all our cast–
Deborah Snyder: Cuz he knew how to do it
Zack Snyder: –how to reap.
Deborah Snyder: So we were like, oh, let’s put him as a villager.
Zack Snyder: So whenever I needed, like, a hero reaper, I’d be like, “Jacob, get in there.” Like, there’s one shot, like, sunset, beautiful, beautiful sunset shot we were doing, and I’m like, “Jacob!” And then you really have to go to the– “Get over here! I don’t want to waste this sunset on, like, someone’s got to really know what they’re doing.” And he was like, “yep.” And he would just, like—I’d go, “Jacob, clean this area up,” and he’d go, and he’d get all the– And then, you know, he’d make a pristine area to start cutting, because no one else could do it, you know, like, as quickly as [him].
Deborah Snyder: It’s so interesting to have the really organic space juxtaposed with all of the spacey stuff.
Netflix: So, Sophia was getting in the van and said, “I forgot to say one thing. Tell everyone. Zack, it’s so funny. You have to know how funny [he is]” She said that she wanted me to relay that to you.
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