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Monday, July 18, 2005


Question: Do you play Roxanne in the movie?

Mendes: I sure do.

Question: Can you describe your character?

Mendes: I play Johhny Blaze's love of his life, a reporter. At least when you see me in the movie it's been since I've seen him and I haven't gotten over him. How can you get off Johnny Blaze? Or Nic Cage, I should say. Then, help me out here...

Johnson:We set it up that the deal with the devil was made when Johnny was a young boy and the two of them split up because he had to leave her behind because he can't risk putting her in danger. Then they meet up years later in life.

Question: Which is your favorite version of Ghost Rider and which one will you use?

Johnson: The cool thing is get the best of both worlds. I really love the original, but I also love some of the stuff from the Danny Ketch 90's version. I like The Caretaker, and they had better villains, and some of the stories were really excellent, too, especially ones with the Marvel Scarecrow. They were great. What's nice is you get to cherry-pick, you know what I mean, the best from both.

It kind of gives you less pressure that it's now out now (as a comic). I know they're going to bring it back. But there's no Frank Miller run that you have to be beholden to or anything like that, which is nice. It freed me up a little bit.

Question: How about yourself?

Johnson: The biggest thing was cracking ... I think there were two reasons why it took so long to make the movie. No. 1, was just because the effects. You literally couldn't make the movie even a couple of years ago. We're doing new stuff now, fluid sim for the fire, that it's going to look amazing.

The other thing was the story, the deal with the devil, was problematic for people. I think they kept trying to change it. I think that's why the 70s run of the Ghost Rider went away and then they tried to bring it back and simplified it too much. It went with from the really convoluted deal with-the-devil story in the first one to magic motorcyle in the graveyard and you touch it and...

So it was kind of a challenge to keep what we loved about the comic, but find a way to hopefully strengthen it. The idea was, the hard part of the comic was that the devil gave Johnny these amazing powers and he goes out and fights the back guys. You know what I mean? It never quite added up. And they tried to explain it, but it never worked and it got more and more convolotuted.

We just made it really, really, simple. There's heaven and there's hell and there's our world. Every once in a while something gets out of hell and it not supposed to be here, and that's when you call upon the Ghost Rider. He works for the devil as a bounty hunter.

So there's always been a Ghost Rider, that's the deal. He used to be on horseback back in the day. And now it's a motorcycle rider. The concept was you would find the best rider and make him go and track down these demons for you.

Question: Is it Mephisto?

Johnson: It's pretty to pull off Mephisto from the comic because he's bright red with a big cape and big horns. That's what (Peter) Fonda looks like (laughs).

Our demons and are devil have a certain look that they wear when they're here, but there's a certain look underneath and that's something we reveal later in the movie. You get ripples of it you see when they get angry. It's almost like, remember that Black Hole Sun video by Soundgarden and how creepy that was? The slight distortion with the smile that goes too far ... things like that. You get hints of it, then later in the movie we reveal what they look like. It probably won't be that similar to Mephisto. Tht would have been a tough one to pull off on film, but it will be really horrific.

Question: What was Peter Fonda like?

Mendes: I have the best Fonda story for you guys. He's awesome. He's Peter Fonda.

One day we were hanging out on the set ... and believe it or not, I've never seen Easy Rider. I just knew he was amazing out. And we were hanging out talking and I said, "I'm so sorry, I've never seen Easy Rider." I thought he was going to hit me or something. And he was like, "You've neve seen it?" I said, "No." And he said, "Why don't we have an Easy Rider party at Mark's place and I'll narrate the film for you?"

Johnson: At Mark's place...

Mendes: At Mark's place. I was like, "Yeah." And it was great. He narrated the whole thing.

Johnson: It was like a DVD commentary. We had an Eary Rider party.

Fonda's great. He's awesome. The devil is tough, you know what I mean. I look at all the movie's where someone's played the devil and it's a tough one. No one's done it great. Most people go really big with it. They go campy, like Devil's Advocate.


Johnson: Yeah, a little bit. Really good, really well done. They're always like showmen, like Jack Nicholson in the Witches of Eastwick. They're always very comedic. And I didn't want to do that. I wanted it very subtle.

You always have to differentiate you devil, and ours is Mephistopholes, which means he's the deal maker. That's where he comes from in literature. Rather than just be a fire-and-brimstom devil, he's a salesman. He's got to be. He's trying to get you to sell your soul. He's got to be the ultimate saleman. And a good salesman just fits in, you know what I mean? He just comes in and kind of blends in. He's not the guy who calls attention to himself. And before you know it, you think, "He's not that bad," and you realize what you're in for.

Question: Were any of the designs based from the original artist Mike Ploog?

Johnson: No, I've never met him. But I'm a big fan of his.

Question: How will you be addressing the look?

Johnson: It's great because this time I'm actually have a hero who's supposed to be in leather, so I got that going for me. He changes throughout the movie. Some fans have seen shots and have said "Why are the spikes so small?" or "It doesn't look like he has any spikes." That's because he changes his look throughout the movie.

He obviously doesn't know it's going to happen the first time. He's got no gloves on, so he's got the skeleton hands. He's got black jean, black leather coat and motorcycle boots.

And then the second time when he breaks out of jail, I don't want to give too much away, his coat gets ripped and he upgrades basically to one of the inmates' coats, which has little studs. And the idea is that hellfire affects metal in a certain way. So when hellfire hits the motorcycle, it turns into hellcycle. When it hits the shotgun, it turns into the hellfire shotgun. And it when it hits in the studs on your coat, it turns into these spikes.

It's really cool. It actually works well within the outfit. So he does have the three-inch spikes, the big chain and all that.

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