Back in action !

May 01, 2009

Tom Hanks is back with Ron Howard’s Angels & Demons, a prequel to The Da Vinci Code. In an exclusive interview with Screen, he talks about his role as a Symbologist in Angels & Demons and his plans for coming to India.

Going by the trailers and the story there seems to be a lot of action in store for us in the film.
Look, there is lot of adventure and suspense in it. After becoming immersed in an adventure that pitted me against the Catholic Church and 2000 years of history, I, as Robert Langdon, am back in Angels & Demons - and this time you will find me in the heart of the Vatican, attempting to save the Church from one of its oldest enemies: the Illuminati.

Don’t you think it is a bit of a risk to come back with the prequel to The Da Vinci Code? Would it not be repetitive?
Even though Angels & Demons is a prequel to The Da Vinci Code, I am overwhelmed to be in the shoes of Langdon again as the Symbologist. I promise you people out there that this film is going to rock and will outperform The Da Vinci Code. Well, about the risk factor, every minute we live is a risk. So I don’t think that any fear or its mere anticipation could kill our hard work or hopes. I hope that this masterpiece achieves what we really want it to do. Now, the game is in the hands of the audiences. I hope it will definitely repeat something and that will be the legacy of success.

How would you ensure that there are no controversies this time around?
Well, we never want our viewers to feel offended by our films. We always try and ensure that they only get sheer joy and entertainment when they come out of theatres. Angels & Demons in no way will have derogatory remarks or dialogues pertaining to any community. As in Ron’s words “Neither I nor Angels & Demons are anti-Catholic. And in fact I believe Catholics, including most in the hierarchy of the Church, will enjoy the movie for what it is: An exciting mystery set in the awe-inspiring beauty of Rome.” Angels & Demons is a well-researched film dealt with utmost precision and professionalism. We were neither ready for any controversies last time nor are we expecting any this time around. We are artistes and we never want something like that to happen with our work that we treat as our babies. Some might even think that this is a mere tool of publicity and promotion, but let me clear, if this would have been the truth, then from the very beginning of our every interview, we would have been going gaga with the controversial issues that would have helped us. The reality is that we never want to hurt anyone’s sentiments and we try and research real hard on the maximum available facts and figures even if a fiction is to be made. So, really hoping this time around that nothing goes wrong, because I don’t feel that A & D misleads anywhere even for a second.

How did you improvise on the book?
We improvised a lot in terms of screenplay and dialogues. The book was written when there were rudimentary computers, fewer media outlets and no Internet. Dan Brown wrote that the selection of a new Pope was a non-story, covered by skeleton crews of a few TV networks. Now, the choice of the new Pope is a mass media event. The book has modernised culture. And no one jumps out of a helicopter without a parachute. I think changes had to be made because otherwise it would have been too much information and maybe a little too slow. So you lose stuff - you lose characters or some aspects of the story but overall it’s the same, well in fact a little updated without tampering the originality.

How was it working with Ron Howard?
Ron, for all of his work, is making it look easy, I think he is actually more fearless now as a filmmaker, and takes much greater risks than he did when there was much less at stake. It’s not easy to make these types of movies. You’ve got to go places, you’ve got to build things, but you also have to have a vision of how to bust open a genre version of making this movie, so that it becomes very personable and very, very palatable. Also, one more quality of his that I really fancy is how well he managed the times of controversies and fury, by staying calm and trying to prove his point. He has become double as confident after The Da Vinci Code and I would say that Angels & Demons is a result of this.

What were the challenges while shooting for the film?
The action sequences were new and different. I’ve played Langdon before, but it was more of a mystery before and now it’s action. In fact, doing the action sequences was the toughest task. I had to be trained for hours and despite that, the anticipation of fear sometimes hit me deep inside. But finally, I did everything possible and am happy that the film is set to release soon.

Why were you on such a long sabbatical from films?
Well, I believe in ‘Work hard and party harder” so I just gave myself a much-needed break so as to rejuvenate and enjoy the party mood. But also in one of my upcoming films I play an astronaut and I must reveal my secret that I had always wanted to become an astronaut before I started acting, so I was also lost in that world and thoughts while completely preparing hard for Langdon’s character in Angels & Demons.So what if I couldn’t become a real astronaut, at least I would get to wear the same suit and gadgets in reel life. Now I am back with a bang and I hope you will praise my hard work in Angels & Demons.

What do you think about the Oscar- winning film Slumdog Millionaire? Have you watched it?
I’ve not watched it yet, but I would love to see it. There was a lot of buzz about that film. I caught a glimpse of it at the Oscars. Kudos to its entire team. It is believed to be one of the finest films though. Winning so many Oscars was a bingo for Danny Boyle. Best of luck to him ahead.

Have you been approached by Bollywood directors for films?
No, not yet.

Would you like to be a part of crossover films? Or probably even produce them?
Why not, if the project is good. After all we all are part of the entertainment biz. Trying the new dimensions of this industry will definitely enhance my horizons as a cinema profession. I have already produced many films and mini series, have written and even directed some TV series so it won’t be shocking if I would be producing one of them.

Your favourite Hollywood film from the recent batch, please.
Gus Van Sant’s Milk. It was a brilliant film with excellent script, camerawork and screenplay.

What are your future projects?
My upcoming films include Toy Story 3, Boone’s Lick and I am also reading a number of interesting scripts. Apart from these scripts I have signed a live-action feature based on the vintage Mattel toy Major Matt Mason wherein I am playing Major Matt Mason, who is an astronaut who lived and worked on the moon.

Any plans of coming to India?
Well, not any sooner. I can’t really be specific on the time as we have such hectic schedules and we hardly get time to have a pleasure trip. But yes, I have heard quite a lot about India and

Source : ScreenIndia