Alex Kurtzman directs the latest incarnation of the monster movie, “The Mummy”.
How did he feel taking on such an iconic film? “My first thought was excitement and my second thought was fear – just at the task of living up to the heritage of the monsters. I was a lifelong universal monsters fan – obsessed with them as a kid and I wanted to find a way to honour the heritage and tradition of monster movies, and “The Mummy” in particularly, but also bring something new and fresh to the table”.
A movie like this has a massive crew. “The crew was unbelievable. Everyone brought 100% of themselves and your job, as the director is to lead and inspire, and to listen, and to allow people who are much more talented that you are to do their jobs and that was my goal. You hire amazing people and let them do the work.
Is that the same approach with Hollywood Heavyweights Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe? Did Alex give them direction or just stand back and let them do their thing?
“The honest answer is both. On the one hand we spent a lot of time in rehearsal and you’re talking about two brilliant actors who are really both interested in the same thing – which is getting to the root of the character they’re playing and figuring out how they’re doing it.
In that rehearsal period, what you’re doing is creating a trust that when we’re on set, and I ask them to do something, they feel comfortable enough to make themselves vulnerable and do for the camera what they both do so brilliantly..
But, because it is Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe – they’re unbelievably gifted, and sometimes my job was to go in and make adjustments, and sometimes my job was to sit back and just let them do it and not interrupt.”
It must however, be important to interrupt during the action scenes? “As chaotic as it looks on screen, you’d be amazed at how controlled and rigid every stunt is because you want to keep your actors (and crew) safe.”
However, the nerves are at a high when you only have one shot to get the stunt right. Alex said, “it’s very scary! You rig, and plan, and hope for the right weather, and then you leave it to faith and most of the time it works really well.
“The Mummy” is just the beginning of the Dark Universe stories. The next film is the Bride of Frankenstein, starring Javier Bardem as the Frankenstein’s monster and it will be directed by Bill Condon.
About this universe, Alex thinks “it’s going to continue an enduring tradition of these classic monster movies made by somebody who’s also a lover of those types of films, and understands what the monsters are really about in a profound way.
My hope is that with the Dark Universe, there will be a continuity and through line and continuum between these monsters, but that each director that comes in to direct a movie will be able to put their imprint on the film.
“The Mummy” is in cinemas now