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Thursday, July 29, 2004


SAN DIEGO -- The Blade franchise, which started Marvel's run of successful movies, will reach the trilogy stage on Dec. 10 with Blade: Trinity.

David Goyer, who wrote the first two films and is writing and directing the third, welcomed stars Ryan Reynolds (Hannibal King) and Jessica Biel (Abigail Whistler) to a panel at Comic-Con International. He showed clips featuring both of them from the film and then the three fielded questions for the audience.

Following is an edited transcription of the question-and-answer session:

Reynolds: This one (Biel) could compete in martial arts right now, I swear to God. It's incredible.

Biel: We worked really hard. We trained every day with an incredible martial artist, all kinds of martial arts, for about a month before we started shooting and then almost every day throughout the shooting.

Reynolds: Six months total.

Goyer: There's a scene in the film where Jessica fights, I don't know, 13 or 14 guys, at once. We did that whole fight in a single take -- eventually we edited it together -- but we did that damn fight for 14 hours and with 14 or 15 guys, and she ran throug them. She had all her moves down pat.

Question: Is the hardest part of doing an action movie doing your own stunts?

Reynolds: Yeah. We did as many as they would legally let us.

Goyer: The only stunts that Ryan and Jessica didn't do in the movie -- and when the DVD is released I'm going to call them out -- were a handful, maybe three or four shots in the entire film. They always involved glass, their character going through glass or glass falling on them. Just because people are getting cut.

But every single punch, every single kick, every single flip and every single throw in the movie, they did it all.

There was one scene where a bunch of glass was supposed to fall on Hannibal King and Ryan said, "I want to do it, I want to do it, I want do it." And I was like, "No, no, no." So we brought a stunt double in just for that and that guy got cut up.

Question: Were there any injuries with the actors?

Biel: We did almost everything and we worked really hard at it. Luckily, no one got seriously injured. We were black and blue all the time, bruised knees and bruised shins. They were all minor injuries, but nothing big, Thank God.

Goyer: Ryan had to go to the hospital. You can tell them that.

Biel: Ryan hurt his wittle nail

Reynolds: We're doing a reshoot. And I've been like a in cage match with Triple-H in this movie. He's picked me up, thrown me 10 feet across the room, I've flipped, I've jumped, I've takenn punch in the face. I've done everything in this movie. And we're doing a reshoot and I tripped and fall on my gun and break my nail.

Goyer: He got a blood blister under his finger nail and had to go to the hospital and have it drilled.

Reynolds: It was awesome (laughs). I had to explain it. The doctor said, "Well, what happened?" I said, "Aw, I fell on my gun."

Goyer: There was also a funny scene between Ryan and Triple H. And Triple H in the tussle got this tiny little nick on his head from the gun, maybe a quarter-inch cut. And the medics were all over him, saying, "Are you OK?" And he's like, "C'mon, I'm in the WWE. This is nothing. Other wrestlers will kill me if they see you around me."

Question: David, what was the transition like from writing to directing and what were the most challenging parts of that?

Goyer: How did I make the transition? The first thing I did was direct an indepedent film with John Leguizamo that very few people have seen called ZigZag. And I did it as a straight drama. And I did it because I think everyone would expect me to direct something like this (Blade Trinity) and I wanted to prove that I could work with actors and tell a story on a small scale and sort of get my chops going.

I hadn't intended to direct this film initially. I was actually going to direct a different film at New Line. And my producer said, "Why don't you direct this film?" And it was while I was writing this script. And I said, "You know, I'll get back to you when the script is done. We'll have to see if it was any good enough for me to direct."

It's true. Because I didn't know how it was going to end. I never know it's going to end until I finish it. And I liked it and I said, "Yeah, I think I want to direct it."

But I still had to go into New Line and say, "This is what I would do and this is how I would do it." They didn't just give me a blank check.

The hardest thing was telling my agents and the studios that I'm not just a writer anymore. Like turning away a lot of writing jobs to direct.

Question: Which comic books do you like to read?

Reynolds: I got into Tomb of Dracula because we were doing this movie. It's the origination of my character, Hannibal King. My brother gave me a bunch and I thought they were really cool, especially since they were all from the 70's and that was pretty happenin'.

Biel: I don't think I've ever read a comic book.

Goyer: I've read a ton. My brother and I collected them and we had about 10,000 comics. We recently sold them to the drummer from System of the Down. I love the old stuff with Kirby, I love Walt Simonson's stuff. Nowaways, I like a lot of the stuff Ed Brubraker's doing, I like Grant Morrison. And some off-kilter stuff, like Optic Nerve and Drawn & Quarterly. So it's all across the board.

Question: What made you decide to use Ryan and Triple H?

Goyer: They were two separate situations. One is when I decided to inject a little more humor into Hannibal and make Hannibal kind of foil for Blade, so the two of them would kind of go back and forth, I knew I wanted somebody that had comedic chops but also had a lot of ability to improv, which I think Ryan did.

So I was interested in him. He came in and we had a meeting. He was about 23 pounds lighter at the time -- I'm not kidding. It was one of those situations where he gave a reading and all of us just said, "Oh my God. That's the guy."

As far as Triple H goes, one of the guys at New Line said, "I think you should use Triple H." And I had a meeting with him, and to be honest, I was a little skeptical. I said to him, "You're like a fifth-tier character in this movie. There can't be any bullshit. You have to be there on time. You have to do your work. You're not the wrestler in the movie, you're not the star." And I said that I wanted to use him more comedically than he might be used to. And he was cool with that.

Honestly, he's the nicest guy in the world. He's super cool, just the sweetest guy. He's really funny. Once we found out how funny he was, we wound up writing more bits for him.

Reynolds: He pokes fun at himself.

Goyer: Yeah, he's very willing to poke fun at himself.

Question: Will there be a Nightstalkers spin-off movie?

Biel: We're pretty excited about it.

Reynolds: And we're legally obliged to do it.

Biel: That's true, too.

Goyer: I'll tell you a true story. When we made the first Blade film, the studio was kind of caught off guard with how successful it was and they did not have a contigency plan with any of the players to do a second film; they didn't have a deal in place. So when I realized I wanted to create some new characters, I said to New Line, "Just in case, let's renegotiate another film if it turns out successful."

I think if the movie comes out and people really like these guys, and the franchise will kind of split in two. You might see another Blade film and then you might see a Nightstalkers film.

But I might say that working with Ryan and Jess is the most fun I've ever had in my career.

Biel: It wasn't like work. It was like hanging out with fun, crazy guys all day. If we do a Nightstalkers, we are all signed to do it.

Question: With things like the Internet and film testing, how does it affect you as a filmmaker?

Goyer: The best thing about New Line through all the Blade movies is that they've always left us alone. They completely left me alone when I was making this movie. Fortunately, the first time we previewed, it scored really well.

We've been debating about the ending. And it was more about how exactly we will end the film. It could go off in a couple of different directions.

But the second movie screening went even better than the first. So, from that standpoint, they were totally happy.

They've been cool. Bob Shaye said to me just last week, "Look, I think the movie's really great. There's a couple of things ... Do what you want. I trust you. But just at leaest hear me out." That's really cool. That hasn't been the situations at other studios where I've been a handed a list of things and told, "Do this or you're fired." That was the case here at all.

The fact that the first two films did well (helped). They've been totally cool.

Question: With a third film, was there ever a point where you wondered how to make this one ever bigger?

Goyer: Yeah, good question. Do you have a bigger Blood God? Do you have a race of creatures that beat up Reapers that feed on the vampires? It was definitely a consideration. The important thing is, and one of the things I've been very proud of, is that Blade II was very different than the first Blade film. It's not a retread. Some people like it more, some people like it less. I think the audience accepts and likes the fact that we've gone off in different directions.

One of the things that's different about this movie is the way Blade relates to these two, and by extension, the other Nightstalkers. Don't worry, there's plenty of mayhem and hijinks and creatures and blah, blah, blah. But what made this movie really interesting was the dynamic between them. And it led to the comedy.

It's still very dark, but as you could see with the scene with Ryan, it just led to some unexpectedly black humor situations. It was funny, because for the first time, Blade is playing off of someone else, and visa versa.

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