Interview: Uwe Boll Talks Postal, Kevin Costner, and Answers Reader Mail
Talking video game movies, moneymaking, and more with the German filmmaker.
It's time to share our exclusive interview with the one, the only, Uwe Boll! Read on for our candid chat about his latest flick, Postal, how he almost cast Kevin Costner, the challenges of distributing a film that features Nazis, Dave Foley's genitalia, Osama bin Laden, and Verne Troyer, and much, much more.
Uwe Boll knows he's a tough sell in America; shortly after we interviewed him, distributors reduced his blisteringly raunchy, ultra-violent political satire, Postal, from a nationwide release to a limited theatrical run. Considering his rather genius business model (explained by Uwe below), however, we think he'll be just fine. Read on for our chat with the German mastermind behind such films as Alone in the Dark, BloodRayne, and Dungeon Siege: In the Name of the King, and learn why he self-distributes, how he adapts video games, what he really thinks of Michael Bay, Eli Roth, and George Clooney, and why he doesn't mind those Ed Wood comparisons.
You're known for nabbing some big name stars for your films, and for Postal you got Dave Foley and J.K. Simmons. Who's the biggest star you weren't able to get in the past?
Uwe Boll: I wanted Kevin Costner for In the Name of the King and I met him before we hired Jason Statham. His manager, she wanted him to do it because she felt like he needed a movie like this again, like Robin Hood, more epic. But he felt like he didn't want to do it, and then he did Mr. Brooks. He pitched to me Mr. Brooks -- and I was surprised how good the movie was, to be honest. When I read it, Mr. Brooks, with his alter ego, the other guy, I said "What the f*** is that? You want to play a double part?" He was thinking in the beginning of playing two parts, and it was good that he cast William Hurt to do the other part, and I actually liked the movie.
Wait -- Costner pitched Mr. Brooks to you?
UB: Yeah. He was looking for co-financing and everything, and said "Let's do this movie together!"
So you might have co-produced Mr. Brooks?
UB: No, no! I said, look, I cannot do it -- I'm doing Dungeon Siege right now.
Back to Postal. Has it been tough to sell Postal because it's such a dark political comedy?
UB: Yes. First of all, humor is not translating everywhere. Let's say Taiwan, Thailand, India -- they see Postal and they think, "What is that?" It's too crazy, it's too ruthless, and over the top, so it's against some religious things. For example in France, I couldn't show it because of Islam. They were actually scared that the people will, like, throw stones in the theaters and everything so they couldn't release it.
The jokes in Postal target American culture and politics very acutely...I wonder if that aspect would play well in other countries.
UB: That's the thing; a lot of times, U. S. comedies are not running really good and strong outside of US because the humor is tough to translate. And if you see what are the biggest local hits in France, or Germany, it's always German comedies or France comedies -- like The Visitors with Jean Reno in France. It's a piece of sh**. If we see the movie we think "What the f***, this is not funny at all!" but it sold more tickets than Harry Potter. And this is the kind of phenomenon what you have locally in movies.
How did Postal play in Germany, your home country?
UB: We got only 20 screens. But we were running three months, so we were kind of happy with the performance but you cannot really make a lot of box office, because three of the four big exhibitors banned us. But it's the same here in the U.S. We have to fight for every screen, basically, that we can get. It's not easy. In Germany you have four big multiplex chains; only UCI, owned by Australians, played us. All the German-owned multiplex theaters didn't play us. It's a little similar, it looks like, here. Maybe Regal plays us, and AMC maybe. But Cinemark, Mann Theatres, whatever, not interested. I think it's kind of a political decision from these guys.
Well, it is very extreme material. Do you think the world, or even America, is ready for Nazi and al-Qaeda jokes?
UB: Yeah, I hope so. The thing is, I think as a director or a writer or whatever, you have to have a vision. And you have to be maybe sometimes too early, somewhere.
How did you decide Postal would be your first comedy?
UB: I think the video game, in a way, is funny. Because you can play Postal without violence if you want; you can wait forever in a line, for example, and then at one point you can cash in your paycheck or whatever. Or you can use a cat as a silencer. It's so absurd! I told [Postal game creator] Vince Desi from the beginning on, we have to make it as a comedy -- it's the only way to tell that story that works. And they were really against it. They had more of a rampage movie in mind; like, they wanted to do a Taxi Driver kind of a guy what flips out and kills everybody, and I felt this would be totally wrong. But you can play bin Laden, you can play Bush, and the whole setup -- where he lives with his 500 pound wife in a trailer park and everything -- it's funny. It's not serious. You think that people get real emotions so you have to do it as a spoof; you have to do it like a Naked Gun-meets-Blues Brothers kind of action movie.
And then later when I actually finished the writing, and I started shooting, then slowly I convinced [Vince] and now he loves the movie. And he's also in the movie, trying to kill me! When he was on set he had a blast, and now he's a big fan. It's the only video game company ever who supports the movie so much.
Next: Vince Desi and how Uwe makes money...