Exclusive: With his new gonzo babysitter movie “The Sitter” opening up this weekend, we got to sit down and talk with its director, the multitalented David Gordon Green, best known for raunchy studio comedy “Pineapple Express” and most beloved for bittersweet indie romance “All the Real Girls.” During the conversation, we had to get the lowdown on a plethora of projects he’s been linked to. So, read on for updates on “Suspiria,” the recently announced time travel romance “Q,” and, in typical David Gordon Green speak, a whole bunch of other shit (including how his comic book horror movie “Freaks of the Heartland” might be headed for animation).
First and foremost on our mind was Green’s proposed remake of Dario Argento‘s seminal horror masterpiece “Suspiria.” We’d heard in the past that he had written it with his sound designer and was looking to cast unknowns but there hasn’t been an update in a while.
“We’ll see,” Green said. “I’ve been fighting to make that movie since ‘Pineapple Express.'”
When we asked what was holding it up, he said the general state of horror movies today, with cheap-ass movies bringing in big-time profits.
“I’m a big horror fan, particularly of ’70s and ’80s horror films,” Green explained. “And we’re at a point in the commercial sense of the genre where everybody thinks that you can put a million or a million and a half into a ‘Paranormal Activity‘ or an ‘Insidious‘ and you can make $100 million.” It’s tough for Green because that isn’t the kind of movie his “Suspiria” wants to be. “What I’m trying to do, in a sense, is to make a movie that has a degree of production value that those don’t have. This is very different than what’s out there.”
Green also said that just because “Suspiria” is a remake of a fairly well known movie, often topping lists of Scariest Movies of All-Time, it hasn’t given him a leg up. “It’s hard to convince people to invest in that – it’s not a movie star-driven movie, it’s a genre movie, it’s not an obvious plot, it’s from a property that is only known to a cult subculture,” he said. “It’s not known by a wide audience like ‘Nightmare on Elm Street.’ In terms of a remake, the marquee value isn’t there.”
Still, Green added somewhat optimistically: ” I think we’re really close.”
We wondered what the differences in his film and the original would be, and he seemed hesitant to give us an answer. “I’ve been asked that question a lot. And I get misquoted about what I’m going to try to do with that movie. So I’m not going to talk about it,” Green explained. He said he didn’t want the storyline for his version misquoted since the original film is such a beloved film. “It’s something that, particularly with readers of your site, it’s a vulnerable project to be discussing because it’s something that people are very opinionated about, because it’s many people’s favorite movie of all time. So it has to be delicately handled in a journalistic way.” He offered a different approach: “If people are going to hear me talk about it in a lecture for an hour, I’d go off on it.”
It was also recently announced that Green would write and direct an adaptation of Evan Mandery‘s “Q.” “I’m in the early stages of adapting this book and figuring out what it is, exactly,” Green said. “It’s a novel I’m adapting.” He said the project, about a man who’s warned on his wedding day by a future version of himself not to marry his wife, is something of a homecoming. “For me it’s a great way to revisit a love story and vulnerabilities of young love but in a way that I haven’t since ‘All the Real Girls,’ which is a passion project I did about ten years ago,” Green said. He also sounded intrigued by its mixture of genres: “…but there’s a degree of science fiction, which is fun. The novel has a lot of comedic elements that I’m diminishing in order to make it… It reminds me of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life‘ in a weird way. It’s a movie that’ll break your heart but it’ll make you feel great afterwards.”
As time was running out, we did a lightning round of questions with Green about the wealth of supposed, possible, at-one-time-or-another projects he’s been linked to over the years. On the Dustin Lance Black-penned real life story of the “Barefoot Bandit,” Green said: “Dustin Lance Black’s written it and it’s fucking awesome.” And while it still could happen, he might not direct. “I don’t know if I’m going to direct it but we’re investigating all options on it.”
Two much older projects – an adaptation of John Grisham‘s real-life legal thriller “The Innocent Man” and a biographical film about motocross legend James “Bubba” Stewart, have been shuttered because of “Legal problems,” according to Green.
Another, before he was famous project, “The Precious Few,” a “Smokey & the Bandit“-style road race movie, was co-written by frequent collaborator Danny McBride and is set to star his longtime friend Paul Schneider (“All the Real Girls”). It still burns in Green’s heart but Green choosing to do another project might have derailed it for a while. “That is another passion project for down the line,” Green said. “Hopefully somebody will give me the driver’s seat on a comedy again. It was between that or ‘Your Highness.’ We’ll see if anybody will give me the chance again.”
As for his Sean William Scott vehicle “Nerd Camp,” which Green described as a “high-concept studio comedy” back in 2006, said that, “They took it away from me and Danny [McBride] before anybody knew who we were and had some other guy write it.”
With the mention a practically dusty-old project called, “One in the Chamber,” Green’s down-and-dirty action movie, his face lit up and he said two words: “Fucking awesome.” We asked what was going on with it. “I don’t want to direct that. I wrote that with my buddy and we want to start a kind of direct-to-video production company.” We wondered, with the amount of projects on his plate, if he still had interest in starting the company and cranking out stuff like “One in the Chamber.” Turns out he still very much wants it to happen.
“I would love to,” Green enthused. “We’ve been around for a couple years trying to get it financed. Yeah that would be our flagship film if we can find a great international financier. I wrote it with my buddy Darius when I was all drugged up on painkillers after having jaw surgery and somehow, in six days, we cranked out something we were really proud of.” Hey, if “Ninja Assassin” can be written “over a long weekend,” six luxurious days for Green has probably bred brilliance.
For a couple of literary adaptations he was asked to write almost a decade ago, Green wasn’t so sure. “Shockproof Sydney Skate,” based on the comic relationship novel by Marjane Meaker, was a project that he was developing for Sydney Pollack. “Sydney Pollack was going to direct that and then he passed away,” Green sighed. “Actually I haven’t read that in a long time. That’s a good idea. I was really excited about that. That’s my favorite thing I’ve written actually.” As for “Lord Vishnu’s Love Handles,” an adaptation of Will Clarke‘s goofy spy novel, Green wonders himself what’s going on. “What happened to that?” Green said. “It got turned around. I think that kind of disappeared.”
On a personal level we were quite curious about an untitled western about heroin addicts in the old west, Green said blankly: “Nobody will finance that shit. I’ve been trying to get that made for ten years.” If “The Sitter” is a big blockbuster it might enable it, though. “Maybe down the line but I have to be more commercially viable than I am right now. “
He was also linked to a sci-fi epic, which must have been on his mind. “I was talking to a buddy about that yesterday,” Green said. “That’s the best script I’ve ever read. My buddy George Smith, who’s one of the writers on my cartoon series (‘Good Vibes‘ on MTV), wrote it. I’d want to direct it or support it or produce it. I’ve been producing a lot of movies lately.”
We had already turned off our tape recorder when Green said, “Aren’t you going to ask about ‘Freaks of the Heartland?'” Oh yeah! Tape recorder back on! This is his horror movie adaptation of Steve Niles and Greg Ruth‘s graphic novel that last we heard had been halted. “I want to do it as an animated movie now,” he said. “I’ve been talking to the writer and illustrator of the comic book.” At this point we suggested the Starz animation studio, since they had done exemplary work on very R-rated material for Rob Zombie‘s outstanding “The Haunted World of El Superbeasto,” a movie Green had never heard of. “I’m going to write that down – that’s amazing!” he exclaimed and typed it into his iPhone.
As we were leaving he boiled down the reason none of these projects had gotten off the ground yet. “It’s always financing problems,” Green mused. “People want to make safe, boring zombie movies and vampire movies and comedies. Literally if I walk in the room with a really funny script or a zombie movie or aliens, they’ll say, ‘We want to see more of that, forget about those other things.'”
The Sitter” hits theaters this weekend.