Bryan Singer talks directing ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’
With “Jack the Giant Slayer,” Bryan Singer finds himself facing a whole new audience: kids. But while he admits the film has gone through a softening in both its title and the amount of onscreen violence, Singer insists he’s digging playing for the younger crowd. But he’s even more excited about getting back into the X-Men franchise with the currently in-development “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”
It felt like there was a more violent version of this movie just a few frames away. Was there a lot you had to change to scale it back for a family-friendly audience?
A change that I wish could’ve been in there is when [a giant] picks up [Ewan Bremner] and bites his head off. We had it where he actually put the guy’s head in his mouth and chomped it. And you know, I would’ve been happy to see that stay in. I thought it was kind of funny. I sat and watched it in a theater full of 7-year-olds, 8-year-olds, and they were [screaming], but you know, nobody walked out. But there was just so much fear on the part of the studio, and I was like, “All right, fine. Cut the few frames.” But I think the kids could’ve taken it, frankly.
How terrifying is it to sit in a screening room full of 7-year-olds?
Actually, with this movie it has been fun. I have never tested one of my event pictures. The Superman and X-Men films were always done with friends and family, but “Valkyrie” we tested. I love testing, I think it’s a great experience. And with this particular movie it was fun. The kid behind me was kicking my seat, he was laughing so hard. But at first it can be intimidating, I guess.
This movie used to be called “Jack the Giant Killer.”
I think that change was [inevitable]. I think that word, the word “killer” always put people in a kind of concerned mode. It’s not unusual that the change occurred after the tragedy in Colorado. And “slayer” is more of the period. People are “killed” in modern times, but people aren’t “slain.” Slaying is usually reserved for dragons and things like that. So I was fine with the change. And in fact, I’ve warmed up to it quite a bit. I kind of like it.
You’ve recently joined Twitter. How has that been going?
I told myself that if I ever got back into a movie that had a huge amount of expectation or interest, like an X-Men picture, that I would get on Twitter. I find it very useful because sometimes things get out there that are just not right, or fears get out there. It’s a way of reaching out to fans and reassuring fans and correcting fans without having to call a press conference or hope that there’s an interview. For instance, when I made “Valkyrie,” everyone thought, “Oh my God, the movie’s in trouble, they have reshoots. They’re going back to America to do reshoots.” And I’m like, “No, we’re not in trouble. We’re going back to America because there are no deserts in Germany.” If I had Twitter I could’ve tweeted that then and ended it right there with one tweet. It’s over. I didn’t and I couldn’t because we weren’t doing press, so all that was out there was just chatter and bulls—.
It’s exciting that you’re directing an X-Men movie again. Can you talk about how “Days of Future Past” will mix actors from the different time periods of the franchise?
Um, I can’t. I can’t talk about that, but it does! (laughs) So I am able to accommodate both casts in a really fun and interesting way, a really cool way. I love the actors in the new cast, and as a producer I was instrumental in casting them, but I never had the opportunity to work with them as director, so I get to do that now. And in the development of the script, it’s interesting. Stuff comes to me a lot faster than it does on other films. So either it’s something about the [X-Men] universe that I get more than other things, or maybe it’s just that I’m more experienced and I have an instinct about it.