“I’m Will Smith, movie star,” jokes Akiva Goldsman as he introduces himself to members of the press. Goldsman and writer Mark Protosevich are the writers behind the latest adaptation of the Richard Matheson novel, I Am Legend. Goldsman was a fan of the original story and came onto the project three years ago.
“If you look at the source credit it is really adapted both from Matheson’s novel and Omega Man. It’s a bit of a hybrid. We tried to stay true to the spirit. One of the most contentious issues in the development of this property has been the ending. So I will leave it to others to determine to what degree they find it faithful.”
New York was a vital part of the story and is an amazing backdrop. Goldsman says, “One of the big changes from the source material is the relocation to New York. It’s really easy to render Los Angeles empty, but cinematically Los Angeles is always empty. It’s really hard to say ooh where did everybody go?”
Lawrence continues on by saying, “We didn’t want to do the same grim world we see in movie after movie. We started to do research and we talked to Scientists and Ecologists about what would happen to a city once a population disappeared. The truth is nature would start to reclaim our city. Since our film there have been Scientific studies and we are in line with that…the sorts of animals that would start to repopulate, the sorts of plants that would start to repopulate; the air would get cleaner, the water would get cleaner. It actually would probably be a slightly more beautiful place.”
As part of the cityscape around New York, there are some interesting poster choices as Goldsman decided to have a bit of fun with the set.
“I took every DC poster and character that I could think of that Warner’s hasn’t made and slapped them up there. Some of them got clear and others we stalled so clearance never saw them so pretty sure someone owes someone a lot of money.” Lawrence added that, “We got to do some fun stuff.”
Though the filming ended up turning out remarkably well; the process of shooting proved quite difficult. Goldsman says,
“We had almost every problem you would imagine you would have in NY when you try to shut the streets down. I am a New Yorker. At the end of the shoot, which was endless no one would tell anyone what they did for a living. We would be at a cocktail party and we would hear across the room, ‘Oh you’re THAT mother f***er.’ There was always someone we stopped from getting somewhere. New York was great. I don’t think they saw us coming, but once they took us in they were amazing.”
Lawrence adds, “Yea the city was pretty helpful. They let us shut down anywhere we wanted to shut down. I mean you name it we shut it down.” The filmmaker got to shut down the streets for forty plus days total. “We did six days alone up by Grand Central and then there is a chase through the city in the opening of the film. That’s Fifty Seventh Street, Harold Square, Fifth Avenue, Park Avenue, Forty Second Street; I mean it’s all of those sections that are shut down for a day or two. It’s tricky.”
'I Am Legend' opens in theaters tomorrow. Look for more from Lawrence and Goldsman right here on Comics2Film