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The Modern Noir of THE SPIRIT

The cast and director talk about the film's classic vibe

By Rob M. Worley     December 18, 2008


From the Final Poster of THE SPIRIT (slideshow)
© Lionsgate

When 'The Spirit' arrives in theaters on December 25th, moviegoers will be invited into a world that comics-auteur turned filmmaker Frank Miller calls "modern noir." It's a Chandleresque place the evokes Hollywood's tough guys of old, but still holds the modern conveniences of the present day.

 

This is the cinematic realization of Will Eisner's Central City.

 

"I’m pretty much an encyclopedia of film noir," Miller told reporters at a recent press gathering for the film.

 

Actor Dan Lauria, who plays Commissioner Dolan in the film, is also a student of the genre and made it his mission to test Millers' acumen.

 

"I’m a thief. I mean, whenever I do anything I rob from an old actor that nobody remembers," Lauria admitted. "So, I told Frank the last play I did I was doing Richard Conte. Nobody knew who he was. So he said, 'Who are you doing in this movie?' And I said, 'Ah, you wouldn’t know him' and he said, 'No, try me out.' and I says 'Bart MacLane'.

 

"He listed every Bart MacLane movie. I couldn’t do one bit without him telling me what movie I’d stolen from."

 

"Frank actually told me you were doing Dane Clark," Gabriel Macht, who plays Denny Colt, a.k.a. The Spirt, chimes in. However, the leading man agrees that the modern noir vibe helped shape his performance.

 

"I think tone is really important and I think this film is a great blend of what Eisner and Frank was able to create," said Macht. "There is a bit of the Raymond Chandler gumshoe detective. I think if you are not honest in your approach to the material it could get slapsticky and it could get schticky. We didn’t go there. I think, what’s up there on the screen, what we were able to get is a little bit more extreme in the sense that it’s a comic book movie."

 

Eva Mendes, who plays the most fatale of femmes, Sand Serif also found inspiration there.

 

"What I loved about this was that my character was created in 1940s so I had this real dame, broad kind of appeal you know," Mendes said. "She has some of the best lines in the movie you know what I mean? I think, 'Shut up and bleed' being one of my favorites."

 

Scarlett Johansson, who plays Silken Floss to Samuel L. Jackson's Octopus, named 'The Third Man', 'Maltese Falcon' and 'White Heat' as noir films that inspired her performance, but Miller likened her to a different iconic leading lady.

 

"I realized I was...conversing with one of the great comedic talents of our time," Miller said of his early casting conversations with Johannson. "It was like working with a young Lucille Ball the whole time. It was wonderful."

 

However, Johannson thought she was more Ricky Ricardo-esque on camera at least when paying the hench-woman to the Octopus.

 

"As far as Sam and I, I feel like Sam was kind of the Lucy and I was…"

 

Jackson interrupts before the actress can finish, "I had the red hair too!"

 

But holding onto that modern noir feeling isn't necessarily easy when you're acting on a set that's mainly comprised of large, green screens. A computer-generated virtual world was added to the scenes in post production, a process mirroring previous Miller adaptations like 'Sin City' and '300'.

 

"If we didn’t touch it, it wasn’t there," was Lauria's way of describing the unreality of the set. "That was Frank’s job as a director, to describe what it was going to be like, how it was going to be. The more the descriptions came, the more I felt like it was in a 40s movie."

 

The actor turns to Miller and adds, "and I loved the costume you picked out for me. Right out of Bart MacLane's closet."

 


 

Tune in tomorrow when we'll talk more with the cast of 'The Spirit' about getting into character, looking to Will Eisner and comics for inspiration and the strange way that the cast members came together, even before there was a movie happening.

 

Look for 'The Spirit' in theaters on Christmas Day.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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Whiskeymovie 12/18/2008 10:17:39 AM

I loved Sin City and 300, but for some reason this one isn't exactly blowing up my skirt. It looks cool, and I always liked Gaberial Macht since Behind Enemy Lines, but I don't know. Maybe i'll have to hear some reaction on here before I make up my mind. It does look like a great, "let's get baked and check out the trippy visuals" kind of move though.

leanu13 12/18/2008 11:48:40 AM

Agreed 100% Whiskeymovie, the preview for this movie makes it look lame.  I remember the trailer from 300 was fantastic, complete with Nine Inch Nails and awesome one-liners.   Not getting a similar vibe for the Spirit. 

Also, (everyone will probably maul me for this), but I'm sick of Samuel Jackson anymore.  He's in every piece of crap that gets dished out of Hollywood, and he completely sucks ass. 

sergal 12/18/2008 8:24:00 PM

I'd like inform you that Scarlett Johansson (actress)actually is a clone from original person,who has nothing with acting career.Clone was created illegally using stolen biomaterial.Original Scarlett Galabekian last name is nice, CHRISTIAN young lady.I'll tell more,those clones(it's not only 1)made in GERMANY-world leader manufacturer of humans clones,it's in Ludwigshafen am Rhein,Rhineland-Palatinate,Mr.Helmut Kohl home town.You can't even imaging the scale of the cloning activity.But warning,H.Kohl staff strictly controlling their clones spreading around the world,they're NAZI type disciplined and mind controlled,be careful get close with clones you will be controlled too.Original family didn't authorize any activity with stolen biomaterials,no matter what form it was created in,it's all need to be back to original family control in Cedars-Sinai MedicalCenter in LA.Controlling clones is US military operation.Original Scarlett never was engaged,by the way

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