Dr. Uwe Boll
Uwe Boll is one of those directors you frankly probably hate. He’s incurred a lifetime’s worth of fanboy hate for a series of video game adaptations that are considered colossal disappointments (to put it mildly).
Still, Boll manages to crank out movie after movie, occasionally attracting a name actor, sometimes a theatrical release, but always controversy.
Boll’s new film “Tunnel Rats” takes place largely beneath the Vietnamese jungle during the Vietnam War, which gave the Vietnamese a strategic advantage over the Americans.
“Dr.” Boll chatted with The Yap about his movies, his reputation and Michael Bay.
The Yap: So your new movie is “Tunnel Rats,” right? You’re doing a Vietnam War picture.
UB: Yes, it’s a Vietnam War movie, but we see something that’s not really featured in the movies before, and that’s the tunnels, basically.
The Yap: What brought you to this movie? It seems to be sort of a deviation from what you normally do.
UB: It is a genre movie, a war movie, but at the same time, if you make a movie based on fact, based on stuff that already happened, you have to be in a way correct. You can’t just make stuff up. We had very good prop people, production designer, and took a very realistic approach to the tunnels. The 300-km tunnels are a real reason why Americans couldn’t win the war in Vietnam. The Vietnamese were just too clever. They had tunnels they could flood, tunnels that basically had hidden traps and grenades, and they were basically really clever in the war, and this was never really featured in a movie.
The Yap: You have Michael Pare, one of my favorites from years back. He’s been in a lot of movies, and you work with him quite a bit. Can you talk about working with him?
UB: Yeah, I like Michael Pare a lot. He is an actor who prepares himself and does a very good job everything he’s been in for me. He was even really funny in “Postal” I think. From this point of view, he’s a friend of mine, and I know if I hire him for a movie, he prepares himself, and he’s doing a good job.
The Yap: You have a diverse range of people you work with. You have people like Michael Pare, who maybe they’re not huge stars, but are definitely recognizable names. Then you have bigger names like Jason Statham and Christian Slater, but then in some of your movies you have a cast of relative unknowns. Do you have a preference? Would you rather work with a “name” actor, or an unknown?
UB: In regard of “Tunnel Rats” it was supposed to be an ordinary American soldier, 19 or 20 years old, that was a reason for me not to hire more prominent actors. I wanted to do it realistically, and soldiers were drafted into the Vietnam War, so from this point of view, I couldn’t hire anyone. It just doesn’t make sense for a movie like that. You have to pick the right actors for the right subject matter in a way. Of course, if you have a more commercial picture, it’s harder to sell a picture if you have nobody. But I think this movie comes across as very realistic.
The Yap: So it’s more of that level of realism. They’re not watching Jason Statham, or Christian Slater and can identify the characters rather than having the baggage of having the star play the character.
UB: Yeah, but I have varying experiences. I think sometimes if you have less famous actors they’re really into the story, and you can get better performances. They’re really into it, reading books about the subject and getting into the characters and the story more. A lot of stars just basically take the paycheck, and they don’t do things like reading books on the subject.
The Yap: I noticed how sort of prolific your filmography is. You have about 25 movies either having made or are in some sort of production. You have this reputation in the fanboy community, and there’s a lot of hatred directed toward you, but you obviously keep churning out movies, and people are watching them. The Internet has its own reputation, and the feeling is like you have to catch on on the Web if you want your movie to be a hit. How do you continue to make movies and make a good living at it despite having so many of this so-called vital demographic who don’t like you?
UB: I know this is the case, and people talk about me and write about me and sort of bash me because of some of the video game movies I did, whatever. At the same time, there are a lot of people out there who aren’t actively blogging or writing about me, but they like me, and they like my movies. For me the thing is for example take “In the Name of the King,” with Fox, in the U.S. alone we sold almost 2 million DVDs. If like 40,000 or 30,000 or 20,000 Internet bashers out there are writing about me negatively, I don’t think this is the majority, to be honest. I think also, I’m also a very harsh critic of other people and of myself, and I know that “House of the Dead” wasn’t the perfect movie, and “Alone in the Dark” wasn’t the perfect movie, but I know also that a lot of other movies are worse than these movies. You can’t tell me “Elektra” or “Catwoman” were better than “Alone in the Dark.” But if you go on imdb, they’re way better rated. There’s a huge, basically, gap in reality and what people write about me. I think also that more people slowly, especially after “Postal” came out, started changing their opinion about me, and there was so much garbage out about me, also, like protection money from Germany, like I just get money from the government and don’t have to pay it back. There was so much…bullshit out, basically, that it was annoying, and it was for me really tough to answer all the questions and put reality out there. I hope that more and more people realize I’m one of the few truly independent filmmakers, and I like genre movies, and there are movies where there are a little more than just entertainment. This is “Postal” and this is “Tunnel Rats,” this is “Rampage,” my Darfur movie coming out about the Sudan genocide. This is important for me to have a mix.
The Yap: The last thing I’d like to ask you about, with “Transformers” out, is your feud with Michael Bay. Where did that start?
UB: I think Mike Bay makes all of the money he has from movies…not a lot. Let’s put it this way: if you have the resources you want for a movie, you can get all the actors you want, the best crew, everything, and from this point of view I think other people would make with that money a better, more interesting movie. This is what I’ve said about him, wrote about him. He was pissed about it…it’s not my problem, basically.