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Branagh Chats About His Villain & Directing 'Fast-Paced' Jack Ryan

by
July 22, 2012
Source: Collider

Kenneth Branagh

We just found out a few days ago that actor/filmmaker/Shakespearean Kenneth Branagh was not only directing Paramount's new still-untitled Jack Ryan movie, but would also be starring as the "villain" - a financial "wiz" who helps the Russian government destroy the U.S. economy. Despite that rather boring (meaning: not-action-heavy) plot, Branagh recently revealed in an interview with Collider that the film would actually be a "very fast-paced, very contemporary, very action-driven thriller." Chris Pine is set to star as Jack Ryan, and apparently they're preparing to start shooting in September for months. Read on!

Branagh, who last directed Marvel's Thor and appeared in My Week with Marilyn, spoke with Collider at Comic-Con mainly about his TV series "Wallander", but also went on to reveal a lot in a lengthy discussion on Jack Ryan, apparently perfectly in time following the reveal that he'll be the villain. "Variety is very, very good," he stated regarding the scoop, confirming "now I'm going to direct and be in it, yeah." At first he explains why he took the job and his interest in this particular (untitled) Jack Ryan reboot at Paramount:

"Going from medium to medium, if you get the chance to do it, from theater to television to film, which are all distinctly different, keeps me sharp. What works in one doesn't work in the other, and you have to be looking for the truth of the performance, whatever way that medium might demand. Jack Ryan is a very fast-paced, very contemporary, very action-driven thriller. I don't tend to think of him as a villain, but if you're playing a villain, you don't think of him as a villain. You just think, 'My guy.' The character is a great anti-thesis, but it isn't as simple as that. It's great to see a character in this film with Jack Ryan. It's just a very strong, very interesting, complicated, complex character. When the project first came my way, it was really to do that. I had a long time to think about that prospect, before actually eventually having them ask me to direct it. And then, we put aside the issue of me being in it for awhile 'cause there were so many other things to deal with. Literally, months later, Paramount said, 'Well, do you think you might?,' and I said, 'Yeah, I think I'd like to.'"

We've been following developments and updates on this Jack Ryan for a while, since it has gone through numerous screenwriters and even directors, including "Lost's" Jack Bender. Writers include Steven Zaillian, Anthony Peckham, Adam Cozad and David Koepp, all inspired by Tom Clancy's character. Branagh was asked about them potentially shooting on IMAX, but he seemed to indicate that might not be the case this time. "I'm still having conversations with our director of photography, but this particular film is unlikely to be in either of those formats. Although, as a filmmaker, I would like to do an IMAX 3D Shakespeare film." Because of so many people being involved, Branagh was specifically asked about the development process:

"It's evolving still, but it's been a really great process with [screenwriter] David Koepp. All the key players are involved. Chris Pine has made tremendous contributions, as has [producer] Lorenzo di Bonaventura. He was with the franchise before. My job is guiding all that. I feel very, very happy with the way it's going. I feel my job is basically to bring all those influences together in a piece that is about something very, very particular, thematically, and people seem happy with that. I think that a lot of exciting elements are finding a place where the film is happily, truly about something. When you get that under something that is also a page-turner and has a high adrenalin factor, I think that's a nice combination. I have high hopes for the picture."

That's good to hear, and I really do hope this is in great hands. I'm worried about the typical Hollywood too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen issue here, with too many people trying to make it into what they what. I just hope Branagh can salvage it and still deliver a kick ass Jack Ryan thriller. Branagh did also confirm: "We start shooting in the beginning of September, and we'll be shooting through until Christmas." This has been delayed in development for quite a while, but it looks like Paramount wants to get it ready for either late 2013 or early 2014 sometime. I'm still surprised that Branagh spoke this much about the Jack Ryan project, but thanks again Collider for a great interview. We'll be sure to keep an eye out for updates.

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