Jamie Campbell Bower as the Young Earl of Oxford in "Anonymous"
...would live in the movie theater but for the poor internet reception. He blogs daily at the Film Experience. Follow him on Twitter @nathanielr.
German born filmmaker Roland Emmerich makes movies that only come in one size: XXL. Same goes for their box office grosses (Independence Day). Sometimes it's the title characters that are super-sized (Godzilla), but usually it's the setting. Take the disaster movie genre, for example, which usually involves one city, one building, one ship; that's not enough for an Emmerich picture. He'll destroy the whole world (The Day After Tomorrow, 2012). Initially it comes as a shock to realize that he's directed a period piece and political thriller called ANONYMOUS... until you realize that it's William Shakespeare (the world's most famous writer) and Queen Elizabeth I (easily one of the most storied royals) at the center of all the intrigue. I sat down with him recently to discuss his movies (will he ever make a gay film?) and "Anonymous" in particular, which wonders loudly whether it wasn't the Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans) who really wrote the Bard's immortal plays.
This is such a departure for you. I bet you're hearing that a lot.
A lot. [Laughter] It's a passion project. It was great to reconnect, in a way, with the art of filmmaking. And I went back to my homeland to do the film which was also cool for me. It was nice to not be responsible for tons of money, to have a really small budget but still do a very opulent kind of film.
Did you miss the green screens a lot? Your movies generally have so many effects shots.
Well, there were a lot of green screens. Yeah, there were more than I'd ever used in a film. The theater was built but most of the street scenes and the wide shots and the courtyard [where a bloody confrontation takes place] did not exist. It was built in the computer. They've been saying for ten to twenty years that one day visual effects will make movies cheaper. For me this was the first time visual effects helped make the movie cheaper… and even possible at all!
I mean, you could have found this courtyard in England. You would have had to go there, change things (they wouldn't have had the green lawn. Then you have to put up the crew in a hotel. It's very expensive! We just had the same green screen and the same floor for different scenes.
But how do you do that with the actors? It must be hard for them with no environment to act in.
That's my job and they're good actors. You just tell them what will be behind them and they trust you. It doesn't affect acting at all. It's actually really good for sound, the stage. No waiting for airplanes.
[On Shakespeare theories and his "gayest movie" AFTER THE JUMP...]
Roland with his Queen (Vanessa Redgrave and her daughter Joely Richardson share the role)