An exclusive interview with Kevin Grievoux, co-creator of Underworld
Screenwriter/actor Kevin Grevioux, who most will know as the Lycan Raze from the “Underworld” seriesâ€”he also co-created the popular franchiseâ€”has been keeping busy in the comics world the few years, writing an ongoing “Underworld” series, a few comics for Marvel Comics, as well as ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction for Red 5 Comics, while developing his own projects through DarkStorm Studios.
Mere months after reports of ZMD being adapted into a movie, Grevioux will be adapting his own upcoming Darkstorm Comics series I, Frankenstein to the big screen, to be directed by Underworld: Rise of the Lycans helmer Patrick Tatopoulos. The comic and movie is a modernization of the Frankenstein mythos with the monster encountering other famous movie monsters, and going by the guns he’s carrying in the cover to upcoming comic book, we don’t expect him to play patty cake with them.
The film will be produced by Robert Sanchez and Chris Patton for Death Ray Films, and the project’s associate producer and co-developer might be a familiar name, as it’s ShockTillYouDrop’s own managing editor Ryan Rotten!
Sanchez got us on the phone with Grevioux to talk about the project and get a little more information about the direction it might be taking on the big screen.
ShockTillYouDrop: This is your third movie based on one of your ideas I guess.
Kevin Grevioux: Yeah, I guess “Underworld” being the first then “ZMD” and now “I, Frankenstein.”
Shock: Obviously there have been a lot of versions of Frankenstein over the years. What’s the main difference with this one? I see in the picture that this one is carrying guns, and that’s pretty different.
Grevioux: Yeah, exactly. I’m not going to give you too many story details, but what I will tell you is, it’s a re-imagining of the Frankenstein mythos in a modern day setting. What I’m doing with him is he’s going to be involved in some shape, form, or fashion with some of the classic monsters of lore, be they vampires, werewolves, mummies, goblins, ghosts, things of that nature. Frankenstein’s going to be involved with them.
Shock: When you talk about Frankenstein, you’re dealing with a very well-known movie monster, who has a history at Universal. Have you had to work out with them to be able to do your own version of the character?
Grevioux: No, not at all. “Frankenstein” is in the public domain. The only thing from what I hear, is that Universal owns outright when it comes to “Frankenstein” are the bolts on his neck. Like, if you remember, Marvel had a Frankenstein character, DC had had a Frankenstein character and the Wachowski Brothers were doing a Frankenstein type character called Doc Frankenstein. So there’s no problem there at all.
Shock: Was this something you were always going to do as a movie or was the plan just to do it as a comic book at first?
Grevioux: No, nowadays you want to be careful because you don’t want to sound like you’re pimping the comic book industry, but a lot of the projects that I come up with on my own that I do under my Darkstorm imprint or my Astounding imprint, which is all ages, have multi-level platforms in mind. I think a lot of these properties can make good movies, TV shows, or videogames and action figures, so that’s how I look at things now. After “Underworld,” that taught me a really interesting lesson and that is, you really have to look at things in terms of their global appeal and how many different arenas can you exist in, ’cause I think that’s important.
Shock: “Underworld” was a great example of that and just even the stuff you’ve been doing is a great example of how people can pitch ideas to Hollywood using comic books rather than the normal methods of writing a script or treatment. It’s almost like a chicken and the egg thing, because you never know which will come out first.
Grevioux: Exactly When it comes down to it, I know a lot of people are talking about the diminution of comic book movies in the future. It seems to becoming saturated with comic book movies, things like that, and I will say no. I think people who think like that are very, very myopic, because comic books as graphic novels are not only about superheroes, they’re about regular stories, action stories too like “Ghost Word” or “Road to Perdition”, those were all graphic novels. “Wanted,” it was super-villains, but when they did the movie, they just used regular assassin. So I think comic books will be no different than novels in terms of providing source material for a lot of producers. I think the comic book movie is here to stay, I really do, plus they allow you to push the envelope in terms of special effects, more so than any other medium, at least that’s my opinion.
Shock: This one you’re actually going to adapt yourself. Having written the comic and going to write the screenplay, are you going to be writing them as completely separate entities? Are you going to try to bring a lot of what’s in the comic to the movie?
Grevioux: I guess the way you can look at it is a comic book is a comic book, the movie is the movie. There’s always going to be some elements that don’t necessarily transfer, but I’m going to try to transfer as much as I can that works. Dialogue might have to be different, story might have to be deeper as in a movie than maybe a comic book. Sometimes it’s the other way because you can get into the minutia of story or of a character when you really get in the comic books because you can go into a character’s head, you can deal with back story in a way that is not as budget-dependant, things like that. So yeah, it’s going to be an adaptation, but there’s also going to be a lot of doing things directly from the comic as well.
Shock: Who is the artist on the comic? I like the one image I’ve seen so far.
Grevioux: The artist on that one is Robert Castro, a very good guy, he also worked with me on “Adam: Legend of the Blue Marvel”, along with Mat Broome, so he has a great style, a great artist.
Shock: Is he going to be involved with the storyboarding or developing the visuals for the movie as well?
Grevioux: You know what? I’m not sure. I’m going to be working with a bevy artists, and I’m going to let Patrick take over the character design on “I, Frankenstein” because let’s face it, there’s no one better than Patrick.
Shock: Absolutely, I saw his original art for “Underworld” and he’s an amazing artist himself.
Grevioux: Exactly, so my thing is I can’t wait for Patrick to just crack this and really come up with some cool stuff.
Shock: It’s obviously very early, but do you have any idea what kind of actor might be able to play Frankenstein? We’ve had great actors like Boris Karloff and Robert De Niro playing the role, which is quite iconic. Do you have any idea what kind of actor you’re going to want to play him?
Grevioux: I will say I want a bigger guy, anywhere from 6’2″ to 6’6″, a tad bit intimidating, someone who could act obviously, has a witty banter about him, but this is not going to be a comedy, this is a straight-forward action film that’s really going to raise eyebrows. So any actor that could pull that off, and there are many, I think would be a good choice.
Shock: Have you written a part for yourself in this? I think you always get asked that.
Grevioux: Oh yeah, oh yeah. Everything I write or create I put myself in. I think that’s a blessing for me because in Hollywood, it’s rough. A lot of times you have to create projects for yourself ’cause you can be at it a long time and not get anywhere. So if you can create roles, I think you’re in a better position than if you were not or did not.
Shock: That’s basically how the “Saw” guys started out; they said, “Hey, we’re going to make our own movie and put ourselves in it.”
Shock: Now as far as covering the “Frankenstein” territory, I don’t know if you knew that Guillermo del Toro has been talking for years about reimagining the character, so are you trying to beat him to the punch?
Grevioux: No, I don’t think it’s about beating anyone to the punch. You have to understand, we’re all pulling from the same sources, and we’ve all wanted to do things like this since we were kids. You look in the past 10 years, even on the Sci-Fi Channel “Frankenstein” movies; Robert De Niro and Kenneth Branagh did one. There’s been so many versions that it’s not even funny. People are always going to back to the story because it’s so classicp. If you think about it in a true sense, “Frankenstein” represents the birth of science fiction in a way. You’re talking about a scientist using chemicals to animate the dead and that’s fascinating to people, so they’re always going to go back to that.
Shock: Also if you think in terms of comic books, you realize how many different takes there have been on “Batman” and “Spiderman” or any of those characters, so it’s obviously something that should be fair game as well.
Grevioux: How many times have people gone to the well on the Dracula mythos or the werewolf mythos? They always go back to these classic characters from literature and try to find a way to make them interesting.
Shock: Well, I love the fact that, starting with “Underworld” and through “ZMD”, you’ve kinda taken those iconic horror elements and put a twist on genres. Is that something you’re going to continue to do in your comics?
Grevioux: Yeah, exactly, it does work and it is something that I do like to do. I like the turn what is conventional on it’s head and come up with a new way of looking at it. With “ZMD” I came up with a ne way to look at zombies, weaponizing them, and as far as I know, that has not been done before. I thought that was kind of interesting, then give it a control twist and that’s kinda nice. I’ve always liked horror. I was more into horror and monsters before I actually got into sci-fi. I mean, if you look at dinosaurs when you’re a kid, they’re real monsters in a sense.
Shock: I was really kinda surprised and happy that you came back to Underworld for the prequel. Is that something you’re still involved with as far as writing or not so much?
Grevioux: Well, the thing is as far as the writing, I’m involved with the comic books. Len’s the one, he’s a big director, a talented director, and it’s always like this: when you do your first film, you have to give the first one away. That’s just the way it is. That gives you the, I guess power of latitude to say, “Okay, well, the next time this is what I’m going to do.” That’s why I’ve taken a lot of my other ideas and shifted them over to projects that I am able to shepherd and control more. “Underworld” afforded me the opportunity to do that finally. It’s just good that Len has been able to keep the “Underworld” crew together to an extent. I mean, Patrick was there with us from the beginning, designing the creatures, and Patrick is the type of person who really gets this stuff. That’s what I like about him, he gets it, but we wanted to work together again and “I, Frankenstein” provided us the opportunity to do so.
Shock: Now you’re not writing the screenplay for “ZMD”, but is that something you’ve been still involved with?
Grevioux: I’m gonna be involved with it, but I’m not going to write the screenplay. I wanted to just come in and write the comic book and give the writers, McCain and Blackman, a chance to do their pitch which is similar to my story but different in other ways. I thought they actually came up with a really good pitch, too.
Shock: Do you stay involved as far as reading what they’re doing or not really?
Grevioux: Yes, I’m involved with that ’cause I’ll be producing that as well.
Shock: How’s that been going?
Grevioux: I’ve also written a part for myself in that as well.
Shock: Nice, that’s good to hear. Do you think that might start shooting before you start on “I, Frankenstein”?
Grevioux: You know what, I don’t know. I mean, Hollywood is a very strange beast. It could happen before, it could happen after, they might wind up going right on top of each other, I really don’t know. It all depends on how everything falls.
Shock: Do you have the first script done for that already?
Grevioux: Yeah, they’re working on everything right now and pitching it to studios so we’ll see how that goes. It can take a long time to get a movie made.
Shock: Believe me, I know. I’ve talked to directors who have had movies in the works for twelve years or more.
Grevioux: Yeah, exactly.
Look for more on this cool new project both on ShockTillYouDrop.com and on Superhero Hype!
Source: Edward Douglas