Visionary Indian director Tarsem Singh is known for his bold visuals — as seen in his previous films “The Cell” and “The Fall” — so a fair amount of spectacle is to be expected for his take on Greek mythology, “Immortals.” But the boldest visuals might be the gods themselves, portrayed here as fit, young specimens instead of the usual bearded old men. It’s an approach Singh knew would be controversial — though he admits he wasn’t prepared for just how much blowback he’d get. When Metro caught up with the outspoken auteur, he had a lot to say about his casting decisions.
Your Greek gods are a lot more fit in this movie than we’re used to seeing.
“Immortals” is an action flick, and I decided it wasn’t going to be CGI flying and fighting and pointing fingers and lightning coming out from people’s fingers. Once I decided I wasn’t going to go there, I needed physically fit specimens. So I just said OK, why would I go young with them? And I started to look for reasons, and the reason just being that if you wanted to live forever, nobody wants to look old and miserable and be carrying a catheter around in later-on years.
What did you think of the most recent depiction of the gods in “Clash of the Titans”?
“Clash” was unfortunately so hurried in competition, funnily enough, with us — just thinking that it had to come out before that. I said I had no interest in competing with a juggernaut that has three times my budget. If they want to turn something like that out, that’s fine. But I don’t know how to do gods turning cauldrons and going, “What are the humans up to?” That’s so dated.
You also suggest in your film that these gods aren’t necessarily all that immortal after all.
In the end, I wanted all gods dead. They’re from a dead religion, but people were still like, “No! You can’t kill off this one!” And I’m like, “Oh my God, people believe in this?” Just the concept of God I find boring, that everyone thinks of these beneficial bearded guys up there that are doing this nasty stuff.
Greek mythology is very soap opera-y.
Very! And for most people, they don’t see it as that. They’re just, “No no no! Zeus was this mighty guy, a voice of reason.” The guy who got pissed off at everybody else and kept killing the wrong people? And then slept with so-and-so’s daughter, so-and-so’s son and everything? And then Poseidon coming down and impregnating people through water? It’s just like, no they were nasty f—ups. And basically soap opera is the right thing.