Craig Brewer, director of the upcoming reimagining of “Footloose,” told The Playlist over the weekend that he recently finished his latest draft on a new script about Edgar Rice Burroughs’ iconic jungle-dweller, Tarzan. But while the commercial promise of his current film heralds good things for future ones, he said he isn’t counting his chickens before they’re hatched.
“I just turned in the script,” Brewer said Sunday. “I’ve now turned in two scripts to studios over the past years that I don’t believe it until it’s happening. But I really am excited about it; I like my script, and everybody likes it so far, so it’s something that I would like to do. But I’ve also got a movie called “Mother Trucker” over at New Regency that I really love and I would love to do that as well.”
Brewer’s previous work includes the decidedly more idiosyncratic films “Hustle and Flow” and “Black Snake Moan.” After tackling “Footloose,” he acknowledged that he understands why folks might suggest that he was doing the remake for its paycheck, but said that larger, spectacle-driven films demand more personal investment in telling their stories, not less. And with this latest incarnation of “Tarzan” positioned as a possible trilogy, it would likely be Brewer’s biggest film to date, but his goal is to deliver something much more than standard tentpole fare.
“It’s what determines my interest in it,” Brewer said. “I know that a lot of people are looking at ‘Footloose’ and just assuming it’s all spectacle – because how could it not be? It’s about dancing teenagers. And I try to tell everybody, it’s like, no, whoa, I’m not some director for hire on this. I had to figure out an emotional way in, and once I figured out that emotional way in, I attacked it with rigor.”
Brewer indicated that the Tarzan story he conceived was born of some deeply personal feelings about his career, not the least of which being the time commitment such films demand from their directors. “For Tarzan, I had to find my emotional way in; it wasn’t that I wanted to go and do a big tentpole movie with a lot of spectacle and war scenes,” he said. “I really wanted to do something that really was about two people, which was John Clayton, who is Tarzan, and Jane, and a story about them coming to terms with their own purpose and whether or not they should be in the jungle – and where home is.”
“Being that my wife and my family and I live in Memphis, Tennessee, but Dad sometimes has to go off and do these things that take half of a year to a year to make, and make a movie,” he continued. “I’ve been struggling with, well, what kind of person do I want to be for my family? And what’s normal? And luckily I’ve got a wife that I’ve been together with for 20 years, and she’s like, hey, this is what we do – this is what we’re going to be.”
He said that coming to terms with his own professional ambitions in the context of his relationship with his wife gave him an entry point into the relationship between Tarzan and Jane, and what sorts of obstacles they would face in his script. “Her being that way for me, and accepting that this is our life, somehow I internalize that into, should John and Jane be in the jungle, even with all of their enemies after them? Should they raise a family, even with all of this? And suddenly a movie starts coming,” he explained. “Because the spectacle can wear off, you know; I mean, you can get numb to it after a while in a movie. To emotionally engage people is the pinnacle of every writer and director’s intention – you want to be able to pull that off.”
“Footloose” opens nationwide October 14, 2011.