Angela Robinson Interview

The director talks about making the movie, working Micheal Keaton and Matt Dillon and how she used to wish her parents car was like Herbie!

Angela Robinson must make some kind of an impression. How else to explain this Director’s seemingly meteoric rise in the often closed system that is Hollywood? Bursting on the scene with 2004’s quirky and accessible D.E.B.S., this tale of secret agent hotties with a lesbian twist, certainly signified the arrival of an artist with fresh take. Rather than follow that indy film with another indy, Robinson continued to defy convention by helming Herbie: Fully Loaded. An updated take on the “Herbie” films from the 1980s, with a cast featuring no less than Lindsey Lohan, Michael Keaton and Matt Dillon, Robinson segued into this project with the same ease that she handled D.E.B.S.. If first impressions are truly correct, Angela Robinson is a filmmaker we will be hearing a lot more from.

How did you get involved directing Herbie: Fully Loaded?

Angela Robinson: I think somebody from Disney saw D.E.B.S. at Sundance, so they... I don’t know how these things work, but somebody saw it at Disney so they ordered a print and screened it, I guess at the studio, and really loved it. And they thought... they kind of wanted somebody new, with a fresh voice to redo the “Herbie” movies. So, they thought I was a good choice. They called me in... they sent me a script which I really loved and then I went in to meet them and kind of gave them my pitch on how I thought the movie should be. And then they hired me.

Were you a fan of the other “Herbie” films before any of this had ever happened?

Angela Robinson: Yeah, you know, I was a big fan when I was a kid. I haven’t watched them in years and years, but when I was a kid they made a really big impact on me. I really wanted my parents car to be alive. I remember trying and being very disappointed that it didn’t act like Herbie.

As this is a movie with history behind it, did you want to be faithful to that or did you just want to go in a completely new direction?

Angela Robinson: Well, I kind of wanted to do both. I wanted to be faithful to the character of Herbie, so we worked really hard to kind of synthesize what was charming and fun and comedic and adventurous about the old movies. But then, I wanted to put Herbie in a totally new context. So we gave it a girl owner, which had never happened before, and set it in the world of Nascar which was really modern and fun. So it was kind of like the old Herbie in a new context.

What’s it like going from the world of D.E.B.S. to the big budget Herbie films?

Angela Robinson: Oh, it was wild! When you’re shooting an independent movie, you’re trying to do as much as you can with a little. When you’re doing a big studio movie you’re trying to do a lot with a lot. It was a whole different way of thinking. Instead of trying to hide the fact that you don’t have any extras, it was like, “What am I supposed to do with 300 extras?”.

What was it like working with Michael Keaton and Matt Dillon? Were you fans of their films?

Angela Robinson: They are such tremendous, tremendous actors! And I’ve been a fan of both of theirs forever; when I was a kid. I love Michael Keaton and Matt Dillon’s work so I was just totally freaked out when they agreed to be in the movie, because I was like, “What am I supposed to tell Michael Keaton? How am I supposed to direct him?” He’s like a legend but he was very gracious with me and really fun, and he’s so, so brilliant. It ended up being a really positive experience.

Can you talk at all about JENBOT?

Angela Robinson: Well, we’re kind of keeping that close to the vest because we want it to be a surprise when it comes out. But, it’s about a girl who is inadvertently implanted with robotics. It’s kind like if the “Bionic Woman” were a comedy, but with a lot of modern twists thrown in. So she’s kind of a ditz who goes to work for the government and hilarity ensues. It’s more in the land of D.E.B.S. probably.

You make films that have a lot fresh takes on older ideas. How does this work for you? Do you always set out to do that or does it happen organically?

Angela Robinson: I think it just kind of happens organically. Somebody once said of D.E.B.S., “It’s like a remix.” It’s kind of like the way DJs take all sorts of different mixes of old tunes and moments, and make something new out of it. And I thought that was kind of funny because I kind of write my own thing, but then these different voices, or moments, or movies that I’ve loved always seem to kind of sweep in, but I end up making fun of them and reinvent them or re-invision them in different ways.

Other than JENBOT, what is next for you or what would like to do next?

Angela Robinson: Well, it’s cool, Disney gave me a deal to start my own production company. To write and produce and direct stuff. So I’ve been working hard, we’re setting up our offices to go out there and develop and produce more things, too. I’m really trying to figure out a way to focus on women directors, and helping them kind of cross the divide into studio movies because there’s so few woman directors working in a studio context.

Herbie: Fully Loaded revs up in stores on October 25th, 2005.

Dont't forget to also check out: Herbie: Fully Loaded