Thursday, June 9, 2016

Wan conjures up nothing but solid gold, with 'Aquaman' next

LOS ANGELES  -- Director, producer and writer James Wan, whose latest film, "The Conjuring 2," debuts Friday, remains on a huge roll.
Not only is this nifty horror sequel almost as spine-tingling as the fresh original, but talented Aussie Wan also comes off helming "Furious 7," the $1 billion (worldwide) action flick that likely cemented his future in gold.
Still, during an interview last Saturday at the plush Four Seasons Hotel, the creator of the "Saw" and "Insidious" franchises admitted that he was glad to be back at his scary home.
" 'Furious 7' was an incredible experience for me," Wan begins. "It was the opportunity to go off and play on a huge canvas and take over a beloved franchise in front of the studio and producers who trusted me to not screw it up. With all the logistics and even the heartbreak (the Paul Walker tragedy occurred during filming) of that ride, it made me believe that I could tackle any movie because of the big budget, the movie stars and even those more unfortunate obstacles."
Wan comes back home with Farmiga and Wilson in "The Conjuring 2."
Maybe because of the personal pressures resulting from all of the above, though, Wan quickly jumped on another opportunity.
"Honestly," he says. "there was a big part of me emotionally that just wanted to go back and get a big hug. I just felt I needed to go off and do something for my soul, and the idea of going back to work with Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson would do that.
"They're people I had so much fun with working on the first movie and, to be fair, everything I had done up to 'Furious 7' had been my own creation. I guess I didn't really appreciate the creative freedoms I had enjoyed previously.
"Besides, creating characters we care about is the most important thing, no matter what genre we're talking about," he continues. "I look at other filmmakers who I truly idolize and aspire to be like, particularly Steven Spielberg, who works in so many different genres, but yet all his characters become so dynamic in all those worlds."
Well, guess what? Wan next gets an opportunity to jump into a water world when he directs the long-talked-about but only imagined "Aquaman," as part of Warner Brothers' Justice League series of superhero films.
"The great thing about Aquaman," Wan says, "is how he's perceived as the butt of so many jokes. That actually gives me a lot of freedom to create a character that no one's really seen before. You know, it's harder when you're doing a story or movie about Spiderman or Superman or Batman, right? Everyone is so well-versed on them because there has been so much already done about them.
"But, no one's ever done a story about Aquaman," Wan concludes, "and that certainly makes it more interesting for me. I don't just want to make a superhero movie simply for the sake of making a superhero movie because there's just so many of them. The fact that it's never been done before makes it all the more exciting, at least for me."
For the record, "Aquaman," with Jason Momoa in the starring role, will debut in 2018. A side note: it's being co-written by Mansfield, Ohio's own David Leslie Johnson, the co-screenwriter on "The Conjuring 2."
(Read John's review of "The Conjuring 2" here.)

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