Resident Evil director talks Retribution

Paul Anderson on casting Leon Kennedy for film franchise, taking plot points from Resident Evil 4 and 5, and motorcycle-riding, machine-gun-toting zombies.

While recently promoting his second 3D movie, Summit Entertainment's October 21 release The Three Musketeers, director Paul Anderson opened up about the next Resident Evil movie for Sony Pictures. Resident Evil: Retribution will be the second straight 3D film in the franchise and the fifth film in the franchise, but Anderson is aiming to make something new with more than a few familiar elements.

Retribution is intended to be an epic, globe-trotting affair that features a cast of characters from all of the previous films, including some characters who were killed off early on in the franchise. The September 14, 2012, release has begun filming, and Anderson spilled some of the beans about the film in the interview below, including the introduction of Leon S. Kennedy and the direct tie-in to the Resident Evil 4 and 5 games.

Paul Anderson, at the Three Musketeers premiere.

GameSpot: Did you go back and play any of the Resident Evil games for the new movie?

Paul Anderson: In my office I've got Resident Evil 4 and 5 because we're leaning quite heavily on those in terms of some of the action sequences and the story strands and the creatures as well. But that doesn't count as video game playing because it's work. It may look like I'm in my office playing on the PS3, but I'm not really. I'm working.

GS: What are the challenges of taking someone who is so well known by gamers like Leon S. Kennedy and putting him up on the big screen for Resident Evil: Retribution?

PA: Well, it's obviously a lot of pressure because of that and especially Leon because he has such an extreme look. Firstly, he's a major action hero. But also he has the floppy hair, and you have no idea how hard it is to find someone who looks like that. They're usually mutually exclusive. It's like the guys with floppy hair are all kind of doing British period movies, like Brideshead Revisited, and the guys who are top action heroes usually have buzz cuts. But I think after a long and very exhaustive search, we've finally found the right guy in Johann Urb (2012, The Hottie & The Nottie).

GS: With Resident Evil: Retribution coming out September 14, 2012, will there be any potential crossover going on with Capcom on the gaming side?

Anderson said it's tough to find hair like this on an action hero actor.

PA: We do cross-promotion when we can, but it's very difficult because with movies you set a date and you hit that date. That rarely happens with video games. So Capcom can say they're releasing on certain dates, but before you know it, that day gets pushed back or they abandon the game completely and start again. That's just the process of making a really good video game. They don't release it until they're ready. A good video game takes years and years to make, whereas you can make a good movie in 12 months. So it's hard to plan converging and cross-promoting, but the fact is the movies and the video games, just in a broader sense, do have a synergy and a symbiotic relationship because they are all pushing the same title and the same brand and the same name.

GS: Has DLC content and mobile and tablet growth opened up the ability to create smaller game experiences that can tie in to a film?

PA: It's starting to happen, but the kind of logistics of mounting film promotion and video game promotion at the same time is complicated. Even within a company like Sony, where you would think that there would be close cooperation between different parts of the big corporation like that, it's still really difficult. Let me give you a perfect example of that. There's a scene in the new Resident Evil where we need a whole bunch of plasma screens in the background, and you would think they'd be Sony players on the screen, but guess what, they're not. So go figure.

GS: Being a gamer yourself, what do you think gamers should be most excited about when it comes to Retribution and how you're putting this together?

PA: We're using the Las Plagas parasite, which was introduced in Resident Evil 4. I love this because it gives me the opportunity to have undead star creatures who can basically do cool new things. And we also looked at how that was followed up with Resident Evil 5. It gives me the opportunity to use undead creatures that can ride motorbikes and shoot machine guns at the same time, which is definitely a first. In the world of the undead there ain't nobody doing that, just me.

GS: How will the new Resident Evil movie differentiate itself from the others?

Ever wonder what comes after the Afterlife? Turns out it's Retribution.

PA: One of the things we've tried to do with the films is to progress the franchise and make each movie exciting and fresh again. I really feel like these creatures that are taken straight from the game give us the opportunity to do that. In Resident Evil 5 there's an awesome sequence, one of my favorites, where you're driving a Hummer across the desert while engaging in a machine gun battle with a bunch of creatures that are chasing you while they're riding motor bikes and shooting machine guns. That's intrinsically Resident Evil because it's straight out of one of the games, but it's something totally fresh that you've never seen before. I think everyone can get excited about that, whether they're a game player or not.

GS: How has your work on the Three Musketeers movie opened up things for you as you head into this new Resident Evil movie 3D-wise?

PA: Musketeers was primarily a location movie, and again it was a good experience on location, so that involvement will help me push 3D even more with Resident Evil. I've made this movie really a globe-trotting adventure. We go to Moscow. We go to Tokyo. We're going to some snowy wastes in the North of Russia. We're going to Times Square to shoot. It's a globe-crossing film, and it's taking 3D cameras out there into the real world more than ever before.

GS: I saw Rain Ocampo is back in this film.

PA: Yeah. Michelle (Rodriguez) is back.

GS: How does that work, since she died in the first film?

PA: I can't tell you. It's one of the fun things about the movie I think. But she's back. Colin Salmon, who was the leader of the Umbrella team in the first Resident Evil, is back as well. Oded Fehr, who died in the third Resident Evil: Extinction is back. We just had the table reading in Toronto with all the actors, and it was so much fun to have all these familiar faces and voices in the movie. I think it's going to be a real trip, and I think it's going to be really exciting.

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