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Brad Bird isn’t ruling out “The Incredibles 2″

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Brad Bird might be planning to continue making live action films for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean that he’s done with animated movies for good. Even though he wowed audiences with his live action debut, “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol,” the director is best known for his projects “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille” and “The Iron Giant,” and is one of the most established animation directors in the business.

IFC caught up with Bird recently while he was promoting the Los Angeles Animation Festival’s charity screening of “The Iron Giant,” and shared that he does have some ideas for future animated projects. As someone who has always written and directed the animated films that he’s worked on, the ideas are all the fodder Bird needs for his future work.

“I don’t have any that are signed, sealed and delivered deals, but I have ideas that I would love to pursue someday,” Bird said. “I don’t think my next film is going to be animated, but I haven’t ruled out animation at all. I love the medium and I have other ideas that I’d like to do in it at some point.”

One movie that fans have been clamoring to see is “The Incredibles 2.” Bird has never promised a sequel to the 2004 Pixar film, but its story about a family of superheroes certainly leaves a variety of storylines open to be explored. He just doesn’t have the right story about the Parr family to explore yet.

“I really love those characters and if I can figure out a whole story to do I would do it. But one of the advantages that we had in the original ‘Incredibles’ was that several of the characters had never really got to flex their muscles before. They were repressed, and it was about them discovering their own abilities,” Bird said. “Any sequel to it, that particular thing — which is really a wonderful thing to be able to explore in a movie — that’s sort of gone. And so you have to find something that is equally interesting to do in a sequel.”

Though he hasn’t found a way to tell a new “Incredibles” story right now, Bird isn’t ruling “The Incredibles 2″ off the table forever. The nice thing about animated films is that the actors don’t age because they’re all computer generated. If Bird wanted, he could return to the story five years from now and still be able to acquire the same voice cast and make an appropriate sequel, much like “Toy Story 3″ did 11 years after “Toy Story 2″ hit theaters.

“I would not say no to [‘The Incredibles 2′], because I really love that world and I love those characters. If I can figure out a complete thing — you know, I have a lot of ideas that I love — but the whole story, I haven’t got it yet,” Bird explained. “But if I can do that and make something that was to ‘Incredibles’ what ‘Toy Story 2′ was to ‘Toy Story,’ I would love to do it.”

What would you want the “Incredibles” sequel to be about? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

Bourne

Bourne to Run

10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Bourne Movies

Catch The Bourne Ultimatum this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

You know his name, as the Super Bowl teaser for the upcoming summer blockbuster Jason Bourne reminded us. In this era of franchise films, that seems to be more than enough to get another entry in the now 15-year-old series greenlit. And gosh darn it if we aren’t into it. Before you catch The Bourne Ultimatum on IFC, here are some surprising facts about the Bourne movies that you may not know. And unlike Jason Bourne, try not to forget them.


10. Matt Damon was a long shot to play Jason Bourne.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Coming off of Good Will Hunting and The Legend of Bagger Vance, early ’00s Matt Damon didn’t exactly scream “ripped killing machine.” In fact, Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe and even Sylvester Stallone were all offered the part before it fell into the hands of the Boston boy made good. It was his enthusiasm for director Doug Liman’s more frenetic vision that ultimately helped land him the part.


9. Love interest Marie was almost played by Sarah Polley.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Damon wasn’t the only casting surprise. Franka Potente, of Run Lola Run fame, wasn’t the filmmaker’s first choice for the role or Marie in The Bourne Identity. In fact, Liman wanted his Go star Sarah Polley for the part, but she turned it down in favor of making indie movies back in Canada. A quick rewrite changed the character from American Marie Purcell to European Marie Helena Kreutz, and the rest is movie history.


8. Director Doug Liman was obsessed with the Bourne books.

Universal Picutres

Universal Pictures

Liman had long been a fan of the Bourne book series. When Warner Bros.’ rights to the books lapsed in the late ’90s, Liman flew himself to author Robert Ludlum’s Montana home, mere days after earning his pilot’s license. The author was so impressed with his passion for the material, he sold the rights on the spot.


7. Liman’s father actually worked for the NSA.

Universal Picutres

Universal Pictures

Part of Liman’s fasciation with the Bourne series was that his own father played the same spy craft games portrayed in the books while working for the NSA. In fact, many of the Treadstone details were taken from his father’s own exploits, and Chris Cooper’s character, Alex Conklin, was based on Oliver Stone, whom Arthur Liman famously cross examined as chief counsel of the Iran-Contra hearings.


6. Tony Gilroy threw the novel’s story out while writing The Bourne Identity.

Universal Picutres

Universal Picutres

Despite being based on a hit book, screenwriter Tony Gilroy, coming off of The Devil’s Advocate, had no idea how to adapt it into a movie. He said the book was more concerned with people “running to airports” than character, and would need a complete rewrite. Director Doug Liman agreed, and Gilroy claims to have condensed the original novel into the first five minutes. Getting that out of the way, he then wrote his own story, based on a man who wakes up one day not remembering anything but how to kill.


5. Damon walked like a boxer to get into character.

Universal Picutres

Universal Picutres

Damon had never played a character like Bourne before, and was searching for a way to capture his physicality. Doug Liman told him to walk like a boxer to give Jason Bourne an edge. Damon took that to heart, training for six months in boxing, marital arts and firearms.


4. Damon broke an actor’s nose.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Damon’s training for the films is legendary, but mistakes still happen. While filming a scene for The Bourne Ultimatum, Damon hit actor Tim Griffin so hard, he shattered his nose. Apparently, the space the scene was filmed in was smaller than originally intended, throwing Damon off just enough to exert a real beat down.


3. James Bond visited The Bourne Legacy set.

Eon Productions

Eon Productions

Actor Daniel Craig stopped by the set of The Bourne Legacy to visit his wife, actress Rachel Weisz, who was starring in the movie. While having James Bond on a Bourne set must have been exciting, The Bourne Legacy was the only Bourne movie to not actually feature Jason Bourne, meaning our bets on who would kick whose ass would have to wait for another day.


2. The Bourne Identity was nearly a bomb (in the box office sense).

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

As reshoots began to pile up, and an all-out war between the studio and director Doug Liman spilled into the press, expectations were that The Bourne Identity was going to flop. Matt Damon told GQ that, “the word on Bourne was that it was supposed to be a turkey…It’s very rare that a movie comes out a year late, has four rounds of reshoots, and it’s good.”


1. Matt Damon wasn’t the first actor to play Bourne.

Warner Brothers Television

Warner Brothers Television

Aired on ABC in 1988, the TV movie adaptation of The Bourne Identity, while not exactly critically acclaimed, was a more faithful version of Ludlum’s book. Richard Chamberlain, of The Thorn Birds fame, played a much less ass-kicking spy, while “Charlie’s Angel” Jaclyn Smith played love interest Marie. If you like your Bourne movies heavy with poorly lit ’80s melodrama, this might just be the adaptation for you. Otherwise, you should catch The Bourne Ultimatum when it airs this month on IFC.

Brad Bird offers update on the disaster movie, “1906”

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With “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” Brad Bird has proven that he’s got what it takes to be a great live-action filmmaker. The director best known for his work on “The Iron Giant,” “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille” wowed audiences with his installment of the “Mission: Impossible” saga that was released last year, and has said in interviews that he plans to continue making live action movies.

It would make sense that Bird would next go on to make his long-planned San Francisco earthquake movie “1906,” but it turns out that’s not the case. IFC had the chance to catch up with Bird while he was promoting the Los Angeles Animation Festival’s charity screening of “The Iron Giant,” and he shared that “1906” is no closer to making its way to the big screen than it ever was.

The problem, he explained, never had anything to do with his lack of a live action resume. Instead, it is with his struggle to gather all the strands of “1906’s” story together into one feature-length script that has caused Bird the most problems in adapting it.

“If there were any doubts that I could handle a live action film, I think those have eased. But it doesn’t make solving the story challenges [of that film] any easier,” Bird explained. “I mean, that’s really what’s so far kept it from moving forward, is that it’s just an incredibly challenging story to pull together.”

“1906” is based on the best-selling novel of the same name that was written by James Dalessandro. It examines the corruption in the San Francisco government before and during the 1906 earthquake that shook the city. There are many different storylines woven together to craft the larger picture that is “1906,” and it doesn’t help that the story is set against one of the most famous natural disasters in American history.

“I mean, in a movie like ‘Titanic,’ there’s a certain amount of healthy limitation in the fact that it’s one ship in the middle of the ocean,” Bird said. “With ‘1906,’ it’s a city, and it becomes exponentially harder to sort of reign in the storylines and take advantage of all the amazing things that were happening in this place at that particular moment in time. The script and the story is what’s elusive on ‘1906’ more than it is any hesitations with me as a filmmaker.”

Bird has often said that it would be much easier to adapt the story as a mini-series instead of a film but, as he told us, “I want to be on the big screen.” And even in the sequel-happy world that we now live in, “1906” wouldn’t really work as a feature film series because it centers around the earthquake.

“I don’t think you can really do a ‘1906 Part 2: The Rebuilding,'” Bird said with a laugh. “If you’re going to deal with the earthquake, you have to deal with it in the movie, and I just think the audience would just hate you if you led up to the earthquake and then didn’t have it in the first film. And I think after the earthquake and after all of that is over, it sort of becomes a slower film about rebuilding a city, which is maybe good, but I think it would be a tough thing to plan for.”

So it sounds like the rumor suggesting that “1906” would come out this year is only a bit of wishful fantasy. But Bird hasn’t written the adaptation off just yet.

“I’ve got to find a way to do it in a movie length and that’s what’s been challenging, is trying to pull the story in enough to fit into a movie, and yet take advantage of all the unbelievable rich and diverse stories at that particular place at that moment in time,” he said. “You never know. We may get it figured out yet.”

Would you rather see “1906” as a feature film or a miniseries? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

Brad Bird is “gratified” by the continued popularity of “The Iron Giant”

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It’s hard to believe that it’s been 13 years since “The Iron Giant” first charmed audiences in theaters. The movie launched the career of beloved filmmaker Brad Bird, who has gone on to write and direct such projects as “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille,” as well as helm last year’s “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” (his first live action feature).

“The Iron Giant” is being honored with a charity screening tomorrow at the Los Angeles Animation Festival, and Bird and actors Christopher McDonald and Eli Marienthal are expected to be in attendance. IFC had the chance to catch up with Bird in anticipation of the screening to talk to him about “The Iron Giant” more than a decade after it was first released.

IFC: You must be excited about “The Iron Giant” screening tomorrow night at the Animation Festival.

BRAD BIRD: It’s so awesome getting an opportunity to see it again on a large screen with an audience.

IFC: Did you expect that this film would be as popular now as it was when it came out?

BIRD: That’s what you hope for. You want these things to last. I think all of us who made it are gratified that it has.

IFC: Vin Diesel did the voice for the Iron Giant in his pre-“Fast and the Furious” and “Riddick” days. Do you guys still talk?

BIRD: No, I haven’t talked to him in a long time, but I’m happy that he’s gotten the great career that he has, because I got along great with him, and he was very easy and good to work with.

IFC: How was the casting process different for this film than it was for, say, a live action film?

BIRD: It was different for every one of [the cast members]. I oftentimes kind of hear voices in my head and sometimes they’re famous people and sometimes they’re not, and sometimes they’re a little bit famous and sometimes they’re somebody that is about to be famous. I don’t really cast for any sort of marquee value, I cast because I think they’re right for it.

In the instance of Harry Connick [Jr.] in the first recording session, he kind of put on a beatnik voice and we tried it for about five minutes and I said, “How would you say this?” And he said, “Well I’d just say dah duh dah duh dah,” and he had this great sort of New Orleans-tinged lilt, and it sounded effortlessly cool. And I just said, “Just do that.” And it worked great. Even though I hadn’t thought of the character as having any kind of subtle accent, it made him an outsider — you know, since the film is set in Maine — and it made him very subtly vocally — I mean visually, he’s very much an outsider — made him an outsider in a way that was unexpected and terrific.

I was just really happy with our voice cast. I think Jennifer [Aniston] did a fantastic job, and I think Chris McDonald was perfect as Kent Mansley, and we had a wonderful child actor in Eli Marienthal, and I was just happy straight down the line. Vin, as you said, was not well known at that time, but he had made a short film called “Multi-Facial” that I had seen and he was versatile, but he had this sort of rumble that just sounded powerful and yet sympathetic.

IFC: How would you say animated filmmaking has changed since you did “The Iron Giant”?

BIRD: At the time that “Iron Giant” was done, Disney was considered really kind of the only place that could be really successful at it. I mean, Pixar was successful. They had done like two films at that point. Pixar’s second film, “A Bug’s Life,” came out the same year as “Iron Giant.” Because that was released by Disney, that was kind of included under the Disney umbrella. Now I think people think very differently about animation. Many different studios have had successful animation releases, and it’s considered more a part of the mainstream movie diet than it was when we made “Iron Giant.”

IFC: Would you ever make a sequel to it?

BIRD: I don’t think so. I think that the story is pretty much complete as it is, even though it suggests something beyond the film at the end. I kind of think that that’s the story that we set out to tell and we told it. But I do, you know, think about doing other animated films.

Do you plan on checking out “The Iron Giant” in Los Angeles tomorrow? Do you think the film has aged well? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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