MTV sat with Barry Sonnenfeld to talk about MIB 3. They discussed the time travel plot device, Josh Brolin playing Tommy Lee Jones and the widely reported script issues.
MTV:There have been lots of reports about issues with the script and issues with the shoot. Set things straight: Can you give us a sense of your experience making this film?Sonnenfeld: First of all, I don’t know that I’ve ever been on a shoot that wasn’t stressful for the director. I think all movies are stressful in different ways. What was reported on this one was that we took a several-months hiatus to work on the script. As it relates to that, that concept was built into the shooting schedule. We wanted the next movie Will Smith was in after a long time where he wasn’t in movies to be “Men in Black 3.” We also wanted to shoot in New York, which had a tax incentive that was about to expire. It didn’t expire, but we didn’t know it wasn’t going to expire, because New York state legislature had to vote it in again, and we weren’t sure that was going to happen. So we started the movie with a full script and with a really great first act — but the second and third needed work. We built in a two-month hiatus so we could continue working on the script and not need an eight-week reshoot. So that’s what we did. The truth is, the great thing about the movie, is that there was no stress between myself and any of the actors. We all got along very well. You don’t ever want a director and a movie star who see two different movies. But we all were working with the same ideas in mind. We knew the characters, we knew the history, and we were very much in sync.People don’t know this, but the end and plot of the first “Men in Black” was changed after we shot the picture, months and months and months after shooting. We had cut the movie and were ready to mix it and everything. But I took one scene and got a phonetics expert to change what the two aliens were saying — they were speaking English, and we changed it to an alien language, and subtitled what they were saying. That totally changed the plot of the movie. So, we did not have to do that on this movie. We got [the story] right the first time; it just took a long time to get there. The movie is really good, and it looks great. I think it’s going to be fantastic in 3-D, too.
MTV: Wrapping up, you talked about how the ending of this film is “surprising.” As much as you can tease, do you view this film as an ending to the “Men in Black” trilogy? Or are there ways to continue the story?Sonnenfeld: The fantastic thing about “Men in Black 3″ is that it totally closes out the trilogy, it answers questions that you didn’t even know you should be asking, it leaves you emotionally warm and sad and happy, and it could also reboot the franchise. But I can’t even begin to tell you how to interpret all of that. [Laughs] But I would say this: If your interpretation is that “Men in Black 4″ will only star the worm guys and Frank the pug, you are wrong.