Thursday, April 14, 2011

Scott Stewart and Cast Talk 'Priest' at WonderCon

Priest, which hits theaters on May 13, is based on Hyung Min-Woo’s manhwa of the same name. Paul Bettany, Cam Gigandet and Lily Collins star in the film, which is set in an alternate, post-apocalyptic world. Bettany plays a warrior priest who disobeys the church and sets out on a search for the vampires who have abducted his niece (Lily Collins). Joining him on his quest are Priestess (Maggie Q) and his niece’s boyfriend, Hicks (Cam Gigandet). The film is directed by Scott Stewart, whose previous film, Legion, also starred Bettany.

The film takes place after the events of Hyung’s 16-issue series. This gave the filmmakers room to do an original story while playing in the already-established universe. Hyung said that at first, “I was a little bit worried about the different story,” but loves what the director has done with it. Stewart says, “Our idea was, that was the past and this is the future and that was a way to kind of create something that was a little more contained.”

Stewart was at first attracted to the project because, “Paul’s character in the movie, in many respects when I read it, kind of reminded me of John Rambo and First Blood. It’s a movie that takes place after a war is over and the people who won the war have been relegated to the shadows of society. And now he’s called upon to actually come back and save everyone again.” Another influence was The Searchers, which Gigandet, who “got rid of the sparkly make-up” for this vampire film says, “That was one of (Stewart’s) big inspirations. So he made sure we all had watched it.”

Stewart had a much bigger budget this time around than he did for Legion. It had its advantages because it allowed him to “Make the world feel more comprehensive and make the action scenes, particularly with the digital characters, the vampire characters, more elaborate and exciting.”

Bettany, Collins and Gigandet all had to put their imagination into overdrive when shooting scenes. The CGI presented a big challenge for Bettany who said, “There’s this moment where I jump up and meet this vampire in mid-air and I stab him in the chest and we hit the ground and I cut his heart out. In actual fact, that evening when I did it, I ran across the yard and I jumped up into the air and the timing had to be perfect for me to meet this incredibly unthreatening pillow.”

Collins, whose character was specifically created for the movie, says that Stewart, “Comes from a visual effects background, so this world that he created has always been in his head. We didn’t necessarily know what it was going to look like ultimately, but he did.”

The 3D film, which was post-converted, got a great reaction at a small screening during WonderCon. The director said, “The reaction in the room and what people were tweeting afterwards and the write-ups that are online, particularly from some pretty tough customers, was really pleasing. It’s a different view of vampires that’s meant to be really fun. It’s got really fun action, it’s got a very fast pace and it’s hopefully satisfying.”

Gigandet was impressed with what he’d seen on-screen saying, “I didn’t really realize how good he was in the special effects part of it. He would give us hints about what it would look like eventually. He created such an amazing world.”

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