Based on one of the world’s bestselling comic book series, created by Italian Tiziano Sclavi, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night blends horror with humor.
Director Kevin Munroe now sets the action in the backstreets of New Orleans – a city with a long history of supernatural occurrences. Brandon Routh (Superman Returns, Chuck) portrays Dylan, a detective who handles cases for vampires, monsters and zombies, with Sam Huntington (Superman Returns, Being Human) as his meek assistant, Marcus.
I spoke with Kevin about transforming this comic book to the screen at the press junket for the movie.
How did you come to this project?
I was developing a comic book at Dark Horse Comics, it was the late ‘90s, and they were translating Dylan Dog onto English. I picked it up and I read it and I thought it was really cool when I saw it was a detective and there were monsters, it had everything.
went away and did another movie and then started developing another one that fell apart, and a producer friend of mine sent me a script saying they were trying to find a director for it. It was called Dead of Night. I was about ten pages in and I was like, ‘Wait a second, this is Dylan Dog.’ So I called him up and he said, ‘Yeah, we just changed the name because everybody thought that Dylan Dog would sound like Deputy Dog or Underdog.
I read it and ten minutes later I called him up and said, ‘I just have to do this movie. Tell me what I’ve got to do.’ So I pitched my guts out and danced all around the room and found someone crazy enough to say yes.
How hard was it to persuade them to go back to the title of Dylan Dog?
That’s a good question, because it was really hard. Even when we started shooting it was still called Dead of Night. Batman and Spiderman are just as silly, those names are ridiculous. But for some reason with Batman you go, ‘Christian Bale is a badass.’ We needed an icon to be able to put next to this iconic name.
So in 2009, at Comic-Con, we had a little sizzle reel, and we did this big flurry of action and then ended with a really badass shot of Brandon, and we faded on Dylan Dog. And everybody was like, ‘We get it now‘.
How did you get it to Brandon?
Brandon was the only one attached when I joined. They had cast him about six months earlier. I cast him again, and he was great, he had the stoic quality that character needed.
What about casting Sam?
There were a whole pile of audition tapes that they had when they were trying to launch the movie years before, and one of them was Sam. Sam just jumped off the screen.
I called up Brandon and said, ‘It’s really too bad that you guys did Superman Returns together, because it’s probably not appealing at all for you guys.’ He was like, ‘No, we’re best friends.’ I was like, ‘Really?’
We invited Sam over to come to lunch with us, because Brandon and I were developing the script for a couple of months, and they just had this great rapport that you get by being friends for so long. Knowing that we didn’t have a lot of time, and a lot of budget, we could hit the ground running.
How do they feel in Italy that you’re making a movie of the comic book?
It’s a really polarizing movie in Italy, people either love it and they think it’s so great that their comic book finally got onscreen, or the detractors, for the most part, want melancholy and brooding. There’s a little bit of that but anything more it’s like Leaving Las Vegas.
If I’ve got to sit back and do a movie about guys hunting monsters, I’m not going to bore the audience like that. That doesn’t sound fun at all for a monster movie.
Have you always been a fan of this genre, I know you have a film with George Lucas coming up?
You’re a product of how you are raised. I’m working up at Lucas Film now and it’s strange because Star Wars was the reason that I do what I do. There’s nothing else in my life that’s had that much impact in terms of creativity. Thirty years later I’m sitting on the sofa with George Lucas.
Were you star struck meeting George?
Yeah. I don’t get star struck a lot. But meeting George was really cool. I tried not to go up and take the meeting just so I could meet George, I wanted to really be into the movie. I read it and thankfully I was very into it. It was supposed to be a 15 minute meeting and we ended up talking for three hours. He’s a really nice guy who is very creative.
What exactly are you doing with him?
I’m directing a movie up there. There are Lucas lawyers, they are very scary, so they gave me a page. It’s all CGI.
How funny is that after doing this, which has hardly any CGI?
It’s kind of ironic, yeah. It’s funny, because you do live action and then animation you sit there in front of your computer in an office, there are no happy mistakes. It’s a completely different pace between the two.
When I can finally talk about the Lucas film, I will. Dylan Dog so much fun to make that I left it saying, ‘There’s no way I’m doing anything else in CGI.’ But this Lucas movie is that cool that I just felt like I had to do it. There’s not another movie like it out there. I know … that’s a horrible tease!