Jon Chu, director of such cinematic classics as Step Up 2: The Streets and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, was at South by Southwest and spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about his next film G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
In the interview Chu discusses getting Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson in the film and how he went about making a sequel to the first G.I. Joe film and rebooting it at the same time.
Here’s some of the interview:
The Hollywood Reporter: What was the process of getting Bruce Willis to appear in G.I. Joe: Retaliation?
Jon M. Chu: He was always our dream guy to play Joe Colton, the original Joe, [but] I didn’t necessarily know if he would ever do something like this. It’s such a very specific brand — the character Joe Colton exists, but not really. But the question I keep getting from people like my mom is, “well, who plays Joe?” And there is no Joe, but we had this character Joe Colton that we built into the movie that would help bring it back to the basics. That was a big part of the movie — these guys don’t have laser guns; they are relearning how to be a soldier all on the ground, how to be a leader, how to make moral decisions, all those things, reset it all. And Bruce is the guy [to anchor that]. So Lorenzo [di Bonaventura] reached out to him, but when you’re courting Bruce it’s not like, he’s going to do it – yay! It’s months and months of winning his trust, him learning about who I am and learning what the brand is about. And I never really thought it would fully happen until he showed up on set, but he came through and he was awesome. I mean, he exudes the tone of the movie because he’s so cool and he’s so that guy, but at the same time doesn’t take himself too seriously. He just gives you that little wink, or whenever he says one line you just get it. So it was fun — and to have [him and Dwayne Johnson] both next to each other is blowing my mind. They love each other, Bruce and Dwayne. I’m surprised they’ve never been in a movie together, so Bruce, him and then the brand, G.I. Joe, they all just up the ante. No matter what I do in the movie, it already has a specific tone.
THR: It was a great thing to get Dwayne involved as well.
Chu: That is what took us the longest. We were already doing design work, the costumes, the set work. Everything was like closing in and we did not have a cast yet, but we all knew that it was important to find the right guy that would set everything up. And when you look out in the landscape, who is that masculine action hero that isn’t just a pretty boy? Dwayne is that, and he’s charming and he’s family friendly. So when we met we actually and sat down with him, we connected really quickly.
THR: Do you fully address getting rid of the guys from the previous film at the beginning of the movie, or how does that sort of work?
Chu: Yes and no. We address a little bit, but also leave some of it up in the air. But in my mind the movie was never about them, the movie is about our characters that you introduced from the beginning. We wanted people to come into this movie, and if you haven’t seen the first movie, be totally okay, which is actually pretty tough, because Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow are hard to explain to somebody who had never seen G.I. Joe. But we leave some of it open, so you’ll see.
I make jokes about Chu having directed Step Up 2 and Bieber, but every director has to start somewhere. Hell, James Cameron wrote and directed Piranha 2: The Spawning. Judging by the trailer it looks like Chu has made a pretty decent G.I. Joe movie, but, then again, that’s what a trailer is supposed to make us think. Personally, I think this is going to be a pretty good sequel.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation hits theatres June 29th.
SOURCE: The Hollywood Reporter