An Interview with Anthony Horowitz, author of “Stormbreaker”
BY KEVIN CARR
Kevin Carr interviews Anthony Horowitz, author of the Alex Rider young adult book series. Kevin talks with Anthony about the upcoming film “Stormbreaker,” set to be released in September 2006 from the Weinstein Company.
Excepts from the interview follow. To hear the entire interview, click here.
7M: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE FILM?
My immediate thought was relief. I was very nervous about turning the books into a movie because they have a huge and very enthusiastic following. It occurred to me that a bad movie would have caused me terrible harm, not just for the movie but for the future books. Kids in America and in Britain are passionate about this character. When I finally saw it all cut together and sort of finished, it was a sense of “Thank god it was okay.”
7M: WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE CHANGES MADE TO THE STORY AND CHARACTERS?
We’ve had to make changes. Of course you make changes. This is a $40 million movie. It’s probably one of the most expensive independent British movies ever made, and with money like that, you have to bow to certain pressures, commercial pressures. But as the adapter of it, I had to make sure Alex himself was right. It hasn’t gone silly. It hasn’t changed from the nature of the books.
7M: HOW DID YOU HANDLE THE CHANGES?
I was barraged with notes, if you want the honest truth, and my job was to take on board what was useful and positive and what had to be done, and to argue the case for things I didn’t want. I would say I was about 90 percent successful. There are one or two things in the movie that I could have done without. For one thing, there’s a girl in it. When you’ve got a movie that’s for girls as well as boys, they have to be represented.
7M: WHAT ABOUT MICKEY ROURKE AS THE VILLAIN?
Once Harvey Weinstein became involved, he was able to approach Mickey Rourke to become the villain, and Mickey said yes. I was told this, and I was instantly delighted to have an actor of that sort of weight, and he’s a very interesting actor as well. I think that of all the cast of this movie. It’s not the sort of usual suspects.
It occurred to me then that it would be ridiculous for the character to remain Egyptian and bald and small as he is in the book. So I began to think about it and took out the name Herod and turned him into Darius. He’s now Californian trailer trash who’s mom won the state lottery and sent him to be educated in England. And there you see you go back to the spirit of it.
The motivation for what he does remains exactly the same. It’s racism because the British kids were too snotty with him. It’s the fact that he was in school with the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister teased him horrible]y, and that pushed him over the edge. In the final essence, the spirit of the character is exactly the same. It’s just his appearance and some of his background has changed.
7M: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON ANDY SERKIS AS MR. GRIN?
What do you say about that? Andy Serkis is a huge talent – I mean “King Kong? Gollum? To take on a part where has no lines because the character has no tongue, and where it really is the briefest of appearance really, but he is exactly right for the part. Since all he has to go with is his body language, Andy Serkis is probably the greatest body language actor in the world. I think he’s spot-on right for that part.
7M: HOW IS ALEX RIDER DIFFERENT FROM JAMES BOND?
I think that Alex is very different from Bond. I cannot deny that bond was my inspiration and where I began: “Let’s do Bond age 14.” I was very careful when I was doing the book and in the movie too, to think of the differences, so it’s not sort of a Bond rip-off, to put it bluntly. On the set, when we were talking stylistically with Geoff Sax, the director, we’d talk about [Robert Ludlum’s] Bourne project much more than we’d talk about Bond.
Just never forget that Alex did not want to be a spy. He’s not a patriot like James Bond, saving his country. He’s a school kid who is being twisted and cheated into this world. Alex does not want this for himself. It’s not a Cody Banks type movie where after ten minutes, he’s thinking, “Wow, this is cool. I’m a spy” and falling about laughing.
7M: WHY SHOULD PEOPLE SEE THIS MOVIE?
Because it’s fun, I suppose. Because it’s 90 minutes long, and there’s not a boring minute in it.