Scheduled to hit theaters on January 14th 2011, actor/comedian Seth Rogen will take on the role of Britt Reid, a newspaper publisher who becomes the mysterious Green Hornet, and posing as a criminal secretly fights crime along side his faithful sidekick Kato, played by Taiwanese musician Jay Chou. Rogen also wrote the script with his Superbad writing partner Evan Goldberg, while the film is directed by acclaimed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind director Michel Gondry. The movie also boasts a great cast that in addition to Rogen and Chou includes Cameron Diaz as Reid's possible love interest Lenore "Casey" Case and Oscar winner Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) as the film's villain Chudnofsky. Of course the movie would not be complete without the hero's famous trademark vehicle, The Black Beauty, a 1966 Chrysler Imperial.
George W. Trendle and Fran Striker first created "The Green Hornet" for an American radio program in the '1930s but the character would eventually go on to star in his own film serials in the '1940s including '1941s The Green Hornet Strikes Again! starring Warren Hull as the famed hero and actor Keye Luke (Charlie Chan in London) as Kato. While comic books depicting the heroes adventures began printing in the '1940s and are still going strong today it was the '1960s version of the character as played by actor Van Williams on the popular ABC program The Green Hornet that fans remember best. This is partly due to the fact that it was American audiences first chance at seeing martial arts phenomenon Bruce Lee in action as Kato. The show ran as a companion piece to ABC's other hit super-hero series, Batman, which the characters actually made a cameo appearance on once. However despite considerable interest in Lee, the show was canceled after just one season.
Rumors of a big-screen version of the property first circulated in the late '90s with names like George Clooney and Jason Scott Lee attached but those plans eventually fell through. Talk of adapting the character began again in 2004 when filmmaker and comic book guru Kevin Smith was announced as the film's wrier and director. Smith mentioned names like Jake Gyllenhaal and Jet Li for Reid and Kato but eventually backed out of the project, instead choosing to publish his script as a graphic novel.In 2008, Sony Pictures announced that they had secured the rights to the character and were moving forward with a film based on Rogen and Goldberg's script and starring Rogen in the lead role. Hong Kong action/comedy star Stephen Chow was originally planning to direct the film and star as Kato but eventually left due to creative differences, allowing room for Chou and Gondry to enter the project. In fact ironically, Gondry was in talks to direct the film when he first came to Hollywood in the '90s when the project was at Universal. Eventually Diaz signed on as Lenore and Nicolas Cage was in talks to play the villain but also backed out at the last minute due to creative differences, which allowed recent Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz to step into the villainous role of Chudnofsky.
On hand to introduce the trailer was the film's star Seth Rogen along with his writing partner Evan Goldberg, director Michel Gondry and the film's producer Neal H. Moritz (Fast & Furious). After a few words, the filmmakers presented the trailer to the packed audience of press and industry insiders. The trailer began by introducing us to Rogen's Britt Reid, who is shown to be a spoiled, rich kid that loves to party. When Reid's father (Tom Wilkinson), a newspaper mogul is mysteriously killed, Britt decides that he wants to change his life and do something with more meaning. Soon he meets his father's former employee, Kato, and learns that his father had some secrets of his own. Befriending Kato, Reid comes up with the idea to use his money to fight crime, creating the alter-ego of the Green Hornet, a super-hero that pretends to be a criminal in order to get close to the real bad guys and stop them.
The trailer is fast, action-packed and shows off more of the films action than it does the movie's comedic moments. The trailer also introduces us to the rest of the cast including Diaz's Lenore and Waltz's villain Chudnofsky, as well as showing off some Chou's martial arts moves as Kato. In addition to some awesome action sequences including Britt's first try at using his character's signature gas-gun, which leaves him temporarily unconscious, the trailer ends with our first full look at the Black Beauty in action, complete with bullet-blazing Gatling guns.
Following the trailer, Rogen, Goldberg, Gondry and Moritz took a few minutes to field questions from the audience. Rogen began by talking about the storyline of the film. "To explain it I guess briefly, I'm an irresponsible kind of idiot, as one might imagine and my father dies and I form a friendship with someone else who did not have the highest opinion towards him of his employees, Kato," the actor explained. "Through that friendship, we realize that maybe we can create this kind of thing that will help us both live out our dreams. In time, we realize that each other's personalities are the most difficult thing to overcome and try to form this thing. That's how the story goes."The film recently pushed back its release date from December of this year until January of 2011 in order to incorporate transferring the film to 3D and the director had this to say about that process. "To be honest, we were always hoping to go 3D. The way I put the camera was always like, it would be so cool to see it in 3D", said Gondry. "We pushed a little more the effects, the way the fight works and the use of the 3D to split the screen. We sort of always wanted to do it in 3D." "That's why we moved the release date back. We wanted the 3D to look really good and the only way was by buying ourselves some time to make it look good, said Moritz. "We already have some sequences that we've turned over now in 3D so we have plenty of time to actually make it good and do it the right way as opposed to Clash of the Titans which was done in six to eight weeks." "First thing people like to say is that the studio is forcing us to do and it's a quick fix," said Rogen. "The funny thing is it could not be more opposite. We begged and pleaded as creative entities to the studio to allow us to have this tool to tell our story in an original way and we're super excited that we were able to do it."
Rogen discussed in further detail the trailer and his involvement in the process. "There has been a Lot of versions of this trailer. We were pretty involved and we watched it every step of the way," he explained. "I have to acknowledge honestly that our perceptions of the movie are different sometimes to your general person who knows absolutely nothing about the movie. "I'm sure every person in this audience knows a million times more about the Green Hornet than 99% of the people who will be seeing this trailer. We really had to keep reminding ourselves that we were presenting to people who knew nothing about the Green Hornet. We really wanted to make sure that it portrayed the real feel of the movie more than anything." "We really showed it a lot and we got a lot of feedback," added Moritz. "We tested the trailer a lot of times to make sure that what we liked about it was the same thing that the audience was going to like about it as well."
"My guy is not exactly like Bruce Wayne," Rogen continued. "The whole story of the movie is that I'm an irresponsible idiot whose is trying to get his life together and do something worthwhile. So as an irresponsible idiot, I'm quite good and that's why we always knew it was an easy buy. We didn't want to just tell people what the whole story of the movie was but that's why we knew it was going to be fine because the story wasn't that of a completely serious well-groomed man who decides to become a superhero. It's about a guy who is grappling with his own irresponsible old activities and tendencies and can he put those all aside and do something worthwhile? That's why I think as an actor I thought it was something I could tackle. It displayed what people expected of me, what maybe I could show as a growth through the character."
In the film, it seems that Kato is more of the hero and that Britt is struggling to find his heroic way and Goldberg discussed this. "Kato is definitely the more skilled individual. We joke about it with Seth that he had to get in shape to do the movie and Jay didn't. He was in shape. It was inherently there, he is a very talented, genius kind of a guy and Seth is a normal guy."
"We knew that ultimately it had to live up to the expectations of a superhero movie and needs to have the kind of full-blown action that people expect from that genre," explained Rogen. "We knew that we couldn't just rest on the comedy to make it interesting."
"There is comedy but overall the tone is not a spoof," added Gondry. "You get that in the trailer. We intended to do something comical. We really embraced the superhero feature and there are serious parts, of course there is some comedy but I think it's more of an action movie," said the director. "We always talked about as an action movie with comedy versus a comedy with action," added Moritz.Since the character itself is not as well known as say Batman or Spider-Man, Rogen talked about what he thought they we need to do in order for the film to find an audience. "I think that thought is exactly what led us to say that this is the approach that we needed to take and we looked at Iron Man. I remember when Iron Man came out. I drove by a billboard with my girlfriend and she said, who's Iron Man? They did a good job at taking Iron Man and believe it or not... he was a relatively unknown Marvel character when that first movie came out and they did a good job at introducing it," said the actor. "They didn't really tease it. There was no teaser. They just kind of showed you exactly what it was and that's something that we talked about. That they successfully took a pretty obscure character, made him well known, introduced him to people and that's kind of what we realized we had to do. Not show our version of The Green Hornet but say here's what the fuck The Green Hornet is."
With Comic-Con San Diego less than a month a way the big question remains: will The Green Hornet be coming to Comic-Con? "We are definitely going to be at Comic-Con and will be there with a big presence," said Moritz. "We are going to show a piece of the film. As long as the 3D is done to the standard that we want it, we will show the trailer in 3D." "Yeah we've already been looking at stuff to show," said Rogen. "We are all Comic-Con fans and as comic book nerds it's important to us to show respect for those people who go out there."
After the Q & A, we had an opportunity to accompany Rogen across the street to Jimmy Kimmel Live where he was scheduled to be a guest and unveil the full trailer of the film on the show. However for the first time in the history of the show, the studio's power went out in the control room and Rogen had to do his interview with Kimmel using the host's computer to record the interview. As mentioned earlier, while the episode will ultimately not air tonight and will instead air tomorrow night, the trailer will still officially debut live online tonight at 12:45AM EST.