On Wednesday, June 24, 2009, I had the privilege of talking to notorious director Uwe Boll on a conference call from Croatia, where he was filming his new movie. In the time allotted, we were able to cover his newest film, “Tunnel Rats”, as well as reflecting on past films such as “BloodRayne” and upcoming pictures. I even managed to find time to ask about Hasselhoff and on how to get my ass kicked.
I thank Uwe Boll for taking the time to answer questions and I thank Caitlin McGee of mPRm Public Relations for setting up the interview. My apologies if any of Uwe’s words were lost in translation, as his accent was a bit challenging for me at times despite his flawless English.
GS: I’ve been told we’re short on time, so I’ll just jump right in to the questions. Let’s assume I wasn’t already going to watch “Tunnel Rats” anyway. Why should I pick this one instead of something else at the video store?
UB: I think the war movie has a value to watching, it shows the Vietnam War in the battles of Ho Chi. It shows the reason why America couldn’t win the war, basically. At the same time, I think “Tunnel Rats” is very uncompromising. There’s something about war in general, that somebody must win the war.
GS: So you’d say it has a strong message to it?
UB: Yeah, I think you must judge it from the message. I think especially the end scene, I made that point. It’s a very, very realistic approach. There are lots of scenes where people are killed in Cu Chi. We have a scene where a guy has to dig his way out of the tunnel and he just couldn’t do it. There’s a scene with a guy who had to cut a body to get through. It takes a lot for real people to cut through a body, and he had to do it. Which is nice. We cut it down to ten minutes in the movie, but it took him like 20 or 25 minutes to do it. He was completely distraught and he was crying, and said he could not do it. I told him to keep cutting, because this is what would happen if you were really in the tunnel. You have to keep cutting or you will die. And I think this is interesting for me to show. Existential, you know. This is the moment of truth in your life, where you make the decision to survive or to die.
GS: How bad would my review have to be if I wanted you to kick my ass? (For those who don’t know, Boll has previously fought his critics in a boxing ring and won.)
UB: (laughs) I will never again complain about what people think about my movies. People can write what they want, and that’s okay. But at the same time, it should be a fair review. It’s okay to attack the movie, but I think at the same time, it has a lot of, especially, the second half, it has a lot of human emotion. And that is what I went out there to do. You’ll have to watch it and then tell me then.
GS: I have some general questions. What was it like working with Billy Zane on “BloodRayne”?
UB: I worked with him again in the “Darfur” movie. Billy Zane, I think, is an… I have a good relationship with him. But he is an actor who I think he’s typecast. So, the problem for him is to get out of the niche of being the bad guy. Once he was in “Titanic” then everyone cast him as the bad guy. In “BloodRayne” he plays a kind of arrogant guy. In the “Darfur” movie, he played an American journalist. So, I hope he gets cast in a movie as something else.
GS: There was a big difference in filming between “BloodRayne” and “BloodRayne 2”. What kind of camera did you use on either film?
UB: For “BloodRayne” was a high-speed [Army? Omni?] camera, and on “BloodRayne 2” it was a Panavision camera, we didn’t have high-speed then, which was very bad. We were at night time in winter in Vancouver, not in Romania, where we shot “BloodRayne”. It’s different in Canada. “BloodRayne 2” looks very grainy, but “BloodRayne” looks, I think, unbelievably good. Like a cinema quality and look. I have also heard people say they like “BloodRayne 2” better, because the story makes more sense. So, opinions go in all kinds of directions.
GS: Actually, I liked “BloodRayne 2” better, as well. What are you doing in Croatia?
UB: I shot a movie here about Max Schmeling, the German boxer who boxed in the second World War against Joe Louis. He won against Joe Louis, who was undefeated. He had a rematch, and Hitler didn’t want him doing it, and he got knocked out, actually. Hitler tried to get rid of him, but he survived the war. After the war, Max Schmeling turned into a Coca-Cola boss in Germany. He died super rich at 99 years old, four years ago. So, we start here in Croatia filming war scenes. And then we did a lot of boxing scenes with actual boxers. I will also be making “BloodRayne 3” here next year, “BloodRayne 3: Warhammer”, what will be the end of the BloodRayne trilogy, and will be a war movie like the video game was. We set out to make three very different BloodRayne movies. I didn’t want it like “Underworld”, where it’s the same thing: it gets more boring, and boring, and boring. I want to do different genres. I move forward a hundred years up, and now they are in the Second World War fighting Nazi vampires. I hope people want to see this. I am optimistic for the movie.
GS: I will definitely check out “BloodRayne 3” and the Max Schmeling movie. Do you know any secrets about David Hasselhoff that you can share?
UB: (laughs) The funny thing is that people who are fans of David Hasselhoff wear this tank T-shirt, and people think I’m a Hasselhoff fan because I’m from Germany. And I have the same T-shirt. I got it from Chris Coppola from when we shot “Postal”. But I never met David Hasselhoff.
GS: As a German, I have to ask you this. What is the world’s greatest beer?
UB: The world’s greatest fear?
GS: No, no. Beer. Like the drink.
UB: Oh, for me it would have to be Bitburger. I like Bitburger.
GS: Unfortunately, my ten minutes is fast approaching. Any last words?
UB: I hope you check out “Tunnel Rats” and I hope you keep supporting me and make it happen that I can keep making movies. I thank you for that.
GS: It’s been a real honor talking to you and I have enjoyed the movies of yours I have seen. So, thank you.
UB: Thank you, thank you.
GS: Have a good day.
UB: Okay. Bye.