Director Paul W. S. Anderson Talks POMPEII, Reveals Julian Fellowes Is Rewriting the Script; Plus 5 Things to Know About the Film

     October 17, 2011

Paul W. S. Anderson POMPEII interview slice

With Paul W. S. Anderson’s The Three Musketeers opening this weekend, I recently got to speak with the busy director during the London press junket.  While I already posted what he said about Resident Evil 5 (Resident Evil: Retribution), I was also able to get an update on his disaster film, Pompeii.  As we reported in May, Anderson has signed on to direct the film and he’s planning on making it after RE5.  For those that don’t know their history, “Pompeii was destroyed and completely buried during a long catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning two days in the year AD 79. The eruption buried Pompeii under 4 to 6 m (13 to 20 ft) of ash and pumice, and it was lost for nearly 1700 years before its accidental rediscovery in 1749.”  Via Wikipedia.

During the interview, Anderson told me that Pompeii is in pre-production and Julian Fellowes (Downtown Abbey, The Young Victoria) is rewriting the script.  He also said his team is scouting for locations for where they can shoot and unlike his R-rated Resident Evil movies, Pompeii will be PG-13.  In addition, he talked about the similarities to James Cameron’s Titanic since both movies are based on historical events that end in disaster.  He hopes to achieve what Cameron did, engaging the audience in the story enough so they briefly forget about the impending doom.  Hit the jump for more.

paul-ws-anderson-imageSince I know a lot of you just like the highlights, here’s “5 Things to Know About Pompeii” from my interview with Anderson.  The video is further down the page with some more quotes:

  • Pompeii is in pre-production.  Julian Fellowes is working on the script, and the team is scouting for locations where they can shoot.  The intention is to shoot next year after Resident Evil 5.
  • Anderson notes the similarities with Titanic, since both movies are based on historical events that end in disaster.  He hopes to achieve what Cameron did, engaging the audience in the story enough so they briefly forget about the impending doom.
  • There’s a young love story at the center of Pompeii, but Anderson also wants to explore the “political machinations” of a very corrupt city.  He refers to Pompeii as the “Las Vegas of Ancient Rome.”
  • Anderson also wants to explore the technological advancements of a Roman city.  He mentions the under-floor heating systems, the water delivery mechanisms, and some of the cooler features of a coliseum used in gladiator fights.
  • Pompeii will be PG-13 to accommodate the level of violence and death of a volcano explosion.  Anderson discusses branching out R-rated “two quadrant” films as his career goes forward.

And for those that want more, here’s the time index of the interview with the video.  Look for my interview with Anderson on The Three Musketeers in the next few days.

Pompeii-ruinsPaul W.S. Anderson Pompeii Time Index and Selected Quotes:

What’s the status of Pompeii and what is it about?

“We’re doing very basic pre-production work.  The actual nuts and bolts of prepping the movie is going to have to wait until I’ve shot Resident Evil.  But the intention if all that comes together is to shoot [Pompeii] next year.  It’s about the eruption of Vesuvius and the last few days of Pompeii before that occurs… The idea is to make a spectacular period disaster movie.”

1:15 – Is the film similar to Titanic?

“There are similarities with Pompeii [and Titanic], because you go to see Titanic and you know the ship’s going to sink.  And you go see a movie called Pompeii, you know the volcano’s going to explode—it’s only a matter of time.  So, hopefully what we’re going to do is get the audience really immersed in those characters’ stories before the disaster occurs.  I thought that was really the genius thing of Titanic.  [James] Cameron did such a great job of making you forgetting the ship was going to sink.  And then suddenly you go, ‘Oh yeah!  There’s an iceberg!  Damn! I forgot about that.’  If we’re lucky, we’ll achieve the same kind of thing.”

Pompeii-ruins3:05 – Does he know the ages of the protagonists?

“There’s a young love story, but then there’s a lot of interesting older characters as well… It’s a young love story, but there’s a lot of political machinations that go on in the city.  Pompeii was an incredibly corrupt city.  Pompeii was the Las Vegas of the Roman Empire.  It’s where you went for your dirty weekends and debauchery.  So there was a lot of interesting political corruption going on which the movie touches on.  Also, it was a very technologically advanced city.  That’s the thing that constantly amazes me about Ancient Rome.  They were so advanced.  The under-floor heating systems they had.  The systems they had for delivering water.  These cities that they built were incredibly advanced.  We touch upon the technology of an ancient Roman city in a way that I haven’t really seen in a movie before.”

4:15 – What will be the rating?

Pompeii will be PG-13.  I think it has to have a level of violence and death in it because you’ve got a volcano exploding.  But it will be another PG-13 movie.”

4:40 – Is he going to show the Roman Coliseum?

5:40 – What else is bubbling up besides Resident Evil 5 and Pompeii?



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