Brett Ratner Interview

The director discusses making the third film in the trilogy, Prison Break, other possible X-Men movies and Rush Hour 3

After having phenomenal success directing Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in the popular Rush Hour movies, Brett Ratner showed his flair for directing different genres of material when he remade Michael Mann's esteemed Manhunter under the original book title of, Red Dragon. That film grossed $207 million dollars worldwide.

One might think that Ratner had earned his stripes and that when scheduling conflicts made Bryan Singer opt of directing the third X-Men movie (so he could direct some movie called Superman Returns), the films fickle fanbase would see that the eventual movie, X-Men: The Last Stand and new director Ratner, would deliver the goods. This wasn't the case, but rather than get caught up in the all the media hoopla, Ratner set out to make the best film he could while remaining true to the X-Men world that Singer had established.

THIS INTERVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS ABOUT THE FILM! READ WITH CAUTION...

Every single actor has said you have amazing energy on the set. Where does that come from?

Brett Ratner: A lot of cocaine. (Laughs). I love what I do. When you love your job... when you have a passion for something the energy comes. It's like when you're in love and you can't wait to get home to tell your husband or your boyfriend how your day was like, that's how I was going to the set. I couldn't wait to direct Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, all these actors. It was so exciting for me to be there and to be a part of that. It was like a dream come true. So of course I'm gonna have energy because I'm excited about being there. For me it was fun. It was hard work but at the end of the day, when you love what you do it shows in the work, I really believe.

Were you a fan of the X-Men before you made this film?

Brett Ratner: The cartoon, I was a huge fan of. It was my favorite cartoon ever. It was incredible, except the suits were much different. So I was a little disappointed when I got into the X-Men comics. I'm a comic book geek but I'm not an X-Men comic book geek. I'm a fan of the cartoon, so, just to make that clear.

What was it like working with all the different actors?

Brett Ratner: I'm pretty good with people and figuring out what they need from me and what I need from them. With time, with anything... you learn. There's a lot of actors in this movie but because I made an ensemble with Red Dragon, I kinda went through that process.

Was there any trepidation about making this third film in the X-Men trilogy?

Brett Ratner: How can I not? It's like a dream come true to direct this movie. Its one of the greatest movies you can ever make. All the brilliant characters and amazing actors and stories, it's not just an action movie it's really about something. It's got a levity to it and humanity and emotion and humor.

Do you think it's important for a movie like this to have a diversified cast?

Brett Ratner: Look the comic book and the cartoon were multicultural stories. I wanted to bring some color and some flavor to the movie. In the past, I think Storm (Halle Berry) was the only person of color. In the movie, I wanted to bring Dania Ramirez (Callisto) and Omahyra (Arclight)... Ken Leung the guy who played Spike was Asian. I love that stuff. I love not making it all kind of whitebread. I like making it cooler, if you can.

Who was the easiest to work with and who gave you the most problems on X-Men: The Last Stand?

Brett Ratner: I swear, everyone of these actors was a dream. I think, problematic in different ways. The only problem I really had, and it was a problem because it took so long to get the make-up on, was Mystique. I felt for her. That was painful to spend hours and hours and hours, and then she had to wait hours and hours and hours. That was a problem because I didn't want to burn her out. I was already riding her with the process she had to go through.

As far as easy going? Everybody was happy to be there. No one felt like, "Dammit, why am I on this movie?" Everyone is happy to be in an X-Men movie, no one feels like they're taking a check. They felt like they loved their characters, they'd done it before, it was fun for them. The new actors were excited to be part of it. It was for me a great experience. I've worked with difficult actors in the past but not on this movie.

What about all the rumors about this movie? Footage had gone missing...

Brett Ratner: No, I don't think so. I didn't hear that. I was editing the movie so... I think there was some marketing material that got jacked from the studio. It didn't effect what I was doing. I'm making a movie.

According to Famke Janssen, after shooting sometimes you would go to Ian McKellen's house and eat?

Brett Ratner: The best eggs I ever had were at Ian McKellen's house. I gotta tell you, this guy can cook. He cooks up a storm. I would shoot all night and then go there for some breakfast.

Halle Berry said you really let her character Storm develop. Was that a conscious effort?

Brett Ratner: Oh yeah, you've got Halle Berry in your movie you want to use her. Storm had done so many great things in the comic book. I understand, Bryan couldn't... you can't do everything for every character in a movie. So, someone has to kinda fall by the wayside. I just wanted to focus on Halle because I like beautiful women and I want them to shine in my movies. All the women, even Famke.

You've gotta be pretty happy with the way that Prison Break is going?

Brett Ratner: Well, Prison Break is fantastic. I'm very happy to be a part of anything that turns out to be a success.

What can we expect from Season 2?

Brett Ratner: Season 2 is going to become like The Great Escape. The first season was obviously like a prison movie but now it becomes like The Great Escape. It's exciting. It's very exciting. Out of the prison yard and to see these relationships with these character's families.

Were their debates on the set about mutant super powers? Do they or don't they want them?

Brett Ratner: Yeah, it was in the script. The cure is really the villain of the movie. Every single character is going to have an opinion of it. I really understand the point of view of Magneto and of Xavier. I understand why someone like Storm would definitely not take the cure. If you know the comic book, the backstory of Storm is that she was worshipped in her village of Africa and she changed the weather. So, why would she ever take the cure? It didn't make sense.

And then there's Rogue, who can't have contact with humans, you would understand why she would consider taking it. I think it has a lot of contemporary relevance. I think it's something that is an issue that a lot of people deal with. Alienation, prejudice and I think that each person is going to feel differently about it. If you offered gays an opportunity to get a shot and they won't be gay anymore, some gays will be like, "Oh, I'm happy being gay. I wanna be gay." Some people would be like, "I suffered my whole life... okay, make me straight." If they could.

So I think it's a controversial issue and it's something that I think is going to create a lot of debate. People are going to walk out of the theater going, "Oh my God, I can't believe she took the cure. Why would she do that?" Some people are going to be like, "That was great. She did that because she made the choice to take it." It's like abortion. Whose choice is it? It's up to the individual.

Why do think Magneto is the villain he is?

Brett Ratner: Well, he's an extremist. He's a radical. I always saw Megneto as more like Malcolm X. And then Xavier as more like Martin Luther King. So a person who is a radical is trying to really make a strong statement. I understand his point of view because of his personal experience of being a Holocaust survivor and the way that the Jews were exterminated. That's his personal life experience that he's bringing to this plot of the cure. So he sees the cure as a way for people to control mutants, to change them. He believes mutants are the superior beings.

The movie is really about a choice and in order to make a movie about a choice you have to see both sides. One extreme to the next and then in between are all the X-Men who have different points of view about it.

Has there been any talk about another X-Men film?

Brett Ratner: I've heard. No one has made me an offer. Yeah, I don't think there's going to be any more X-Men films. Which is why I did this because it really felt like The Last Stand. I mean, how much farther can we go? What are you going to just keep killing X-Men? I think that a Wolverine movie would be great. A Magneto movie would be great. An Xavier School movie would be great. Just kids, who knows? There's a lot of different opportunities.

What artist would you like to do a music video for right now?

Brett Ratner: Michael Jackson. I'd like to do a dope Michael Jackson video.

Is Rush Hour 3 going to happen?

Brett Ratner: Yes, it is. I start shooting August 16 in Paris.

How do you deal with someone like Chris Tucker who seems to be making so much more than everybody else?

Brett Ratner: The check doesn't make the man. I don't know what to say... (laughs). We're all friends. I'm happy for him, he deserves it. We've done three movies together. Chris is one of my best friends in the whole world. There's no ego. We all love working together.

Is Jackie still going to do his own stunts?

Brett Ratner: Hopefully, yeah. He's amazing, Jackie. He really is. He's like seventy years old now and he can do his own stunts. It's unbelievable.

X-Men: The Last Stand opens in theaters on May 26th, 2006 from 20th Century Fox.