EXCLUSIVE: Director Uwe Boll Talks Assault on Wall Street
Uwe Boll Talks Assault on Wall Street, in theaters today
Uwe Boll is fired up. Pissed off. He hopes his new movie Assault on Wall Street makes bankers worry about getting shot in the face. Known for his earlier work, which has been notoriously derided on the Internet, Uwe (pronounced Ooooh-Vey) has made one of his most personal and heartfelt movies to date. And it may just be his best film.
Once a whipping post for online critics who called him the 'worst filmmaker to ever live', Boll's criticisms have grown increasingly quite as he proves himself to be a worthy filmmaker with each new project he takes on. Assault on Wall Street follows the story of Jim, (Dominic Purcell) an armored security guard who loses his life's savings and his health insurance. After his sick wife dies because of this, he takes revenge on the American financial system in a style only Germany's most infamous director could conjure.
Uwe Boll: Let's get this over with. You there?
I'm here! I was just listing to you play with the phone.
Uwe Boll: (Laughs)!
Did you shoot Wall Street all by itself, or did you use this as an opportunity to shoot two or three movies all at one time?
Uwe Boll: No! I only shot this movie (laughs). I didn't shoot any other movie during it, or directly after.
What was it that appealed to you about the script? It seems very timely. Here in America, at least. I don't know how people might respond to it in Germany.
Uwe Boll: I wrote it actually. I was watching the whole situation with the bail outs, and the financial crisis. And I read a lot of books. I started my own research. I talked to various people, like the bank guys at Frankfurt. I talked to some foreign press that were in the middle of the bail outs in Germany. I dived right into the subject matter. It was one of those things were you felt like nothing really happened. The banks didn't get divided up. All the banks kept that money unconditionally. So, its like, it was one crazy thing after the other, where it was absurd in a way. And there was no lawsuit, there were no court cases. Even AIG started again, and they started to make profits afterwards, after they sank 1.5 trillion dollars. They filed for bankruptcy cause all of that money was sitting in a bad bank. It was stuff like this. I was very mad about it. Think about all the people that killed themselves based on foreclosures and stuff like that. And nothing happened. Then you look at movies like Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and Margin Call, and it was the brokers, and you almost feel sorry for them. But they didn't make a movie about someone who really loses everything. So, this, all together made me riot. I felt like we needed a really gritty movie about what happened. And this is what I did.
Assault on Wall Street is coming out at a time when we also have White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen in theaters. Did you know at the time you went to make this, so many similar movies would be out there vying for audiences' attention?
Uwe Boll: No! I had no clue. I didn't know about those movies. More political movies getting made is a good thing. I presume. I hope the way I have presented it is different. I think, also, it is important to be the voice for the small guy, with a small movie from a smaller studio. This is a lot smaller than Olympus Has Fallen or White House Down. For me, I want to represent the people that aren't rich. They suffer. Commonly, for most of the people, they didn't recover. Even when the stock market went up, only 12% of the people came out of this okay. This is a movie for them. It's a revenge fantasy of course. I don't want, for real, to see the bankers getting shot. But I want the bankers to maybe get scared. I want them to think, "Maybe we shouldn't be overdoing this." Because we present the risk of someone always going after them. Right?
Sorry if you can't hear me. We're having a weird wind storm over here in East Los Angeles. It almost ripped the door off my shed.
Uwe Boll: (Laughs) I know! I worry about you, too! I worry about your folks! Now, listen, should I say everything over again? Or did you understand me?
I have you locked in. I got everything! Just right at the end there, the wind tore open that door. Everything is secured. So, let me ask you this. This seems like more of a personal film for you. Is that the way you approached the material?
Uwe Boll: Yeah. I have done other movies that were emotional for me. But here, I wanted to tell the real story. With real emotions, Where you feel really sad, hopefully, where that wife kills herself. Because she doesn't wanted to be burdened any more with these medical bills she is creating. I gave the drama part way more space to development, and to show this guy's deconstruction. Its not like my movie Rampage, which I used to make a very violent movie. And it's not like my action oriented movies. I really wanted to take my time to tell a story that people are really sad, they feel it with him, when he gets pushed over that edge. He has nothing to do any more.
You put together a really great cast for this movie. You got some great work out of this ensemble, but these aren't big names here, pushing forth the narrative. You went after some really interesting actors I felt...
Uwe Boll: Yeah, it was basically a long process. I am very happy at the end with the whole cast. At first, I was told, "You can't kill all the bankers. You can only kill one of them." Maybe two. While we were setting this up, I found out that Dominic Purcell had actually lost money to the banks. He lost two apartments in LA. He got downgraded, and he had to sell them. He lost a lot of money on them . He said to me, like, "I can totally relate to this character. I want to be this character." You have to look at a lot of these guys here. Eric Roberts, Michael Paré, and a lot of the people, they are not big stars anymore. Often I have people in my movies who are not living on the sunny side of Hollywood. You know? (Laughs) They have suffered through their ups and downs. But they bring that, too. I am very happy with this cast, and how they performed. They got the message of this movie. It's an important movie to watch. The audience will feel along with this character. They will feel some injustice happened. And no one really went after them. Barack Obama said that everyone should have a fair shot. Really? Then help these people. The country was expecting help from the president, from the politics, and new rules. The original title of this movie was 'Bailout: Age of Greed'. It is the age of greed, in a way. We have better possibilities to protect the tax payer's money. But we won't. We are in the exact same situation as we were before the balloon exploded. Starting in 2010, we were almost headed in the same situation again. It is crazy.
When you get actors who, as you say, aren't on the sunny side of Hollywood, I have to imagine, maybe, that you get a little bit more out of them. Especially when you have a script that is this good, that actually has some great emotional weight to it.
Uwe Boll: Yeah! And they don't have a problem being a little edgier or grittier. A lot of Hollywood actors are very connected to that whole studio world. They are into the stock market. They cause suffering. Let's face it, with a movie like Argo? It's a great movie. But it doesn't help anybody. Its great for the CIA. It's a very conformistic movie. Where there is nothing political, and there is no courage to do Argo, zero. Courage comes when you do something against the system. Something you can use to wake up people. You can use it to hurt the people with power. I think this was my plan, That some people get hurt. Fuck it! Maybe they'll get shot now. (Laughs) If the bankers feel really uncomfortable when the movie is out, they feel maybe someone will do this now, and they need even more bodyguards. I would say, "Yeah. You need more bodyguards. Or, you need to change your behavior." You shouldn't be taking million dollar salaries while other people are starving to death. You know? Its ridiculous. Its like John Heard said in the end. The capitalism...The cream always swims to the top. But, this is what we want? I don't know. I don't. I think, in a good world, we all can live. Now, we are running in a situation where less and less people can afford to live, and everyone else gains 1%. How is that possible? How is it possible that I only have 1% interest on my money in the bank? You know? Something is really wrong in that system.
You bring up Argo, and there was Seal Team Six, where the government had a hand in helping to create those narratives, and the people only saw what they wanted them to see. It sounds like your movie is coming from a more personal place. It's more truthful. It isn't a white wash of facts, and its more relatable. You are maybe baring some truths that we, as the dumbed down audience, aren't supposed to consider.
Uwe Boll: Yeah! I felt like, when you watch Margin Call, you almost feel sorry for Kevin Spacey in the movie. But he is a prick. He is totally fucking people over. I says to myself, "Why does a movie like this get made?" I watched it. I liked it. But I'm sitting there, thinking, "Why aren't they showing the real victims here?" They are getting treated like puppets. They are getting abused. And nobody...The whole system is based on something illegal. They were gambling with other people's money. Then they lost, and the tax payers had to bail the bankers out. The year after, when they made profits, they took that as bonus payments. And the dividends they paid out, instead of paying the money back to the tax payers with interest. It didn't happen until today. The 1 to 2 trillion from AIG is still not paid back. You know?
Some people very well may see this movie as being 'dangerous'. Someone might come and shut it down, and make it disappear...
Uwe Boll: This is what I wanted! Movies should be dangerous from time to time, they should be edgy, and they should hurt. They should comment on what is happening at this time. What is happening now! Look, it was easy to make jokes about Hitler 35 years later, but for us to make jokes about Hitler when he was still existing took courage. I made this movie about when genocide was really happening, and I showed the massacres, and I said, "Look, we need to stop these massacres. We have this genocide happening! We need helicopters patrolling there. And fighting." The children were being hacked in pieces, or whatever. But I didn't get support from George Clooney or whoever. They said, "No, we want a pragmatic solution." I said, "Okay, look at the dramatic solution, when you know children are getting impaled every single day." Then its over, and you have to do something. Its like Iran or Korea, with them threatening, and we make all the mistakes, and we are willing to risk a new world war for nothing. Nothing! North Korea? You could completely ignore. No one gives a shit about them! They are living only from the press they are getting out of this, and threatening that they can drop nuclear war on somebody. Its absurd. It's like a giant fighting against a small child. You know? You just ignore it, and you walk out of the ring, and there is no fight. But they are always so stupid. They say they have to do the wrong foreign policy. Then you have nuclear genocide like before. I am getting the finger over here. I think I am being told I have to go home. I don't know why. Eh...
One last question.
Uwe Boll: Yeah!
Is Assault on Wall Street your best movie to date?
Uwe Boll: Yeah! I think I like how the movie turned out. Story wise and drama wise, I think this is the best movie that I have ever done.