Walking In The Shadows
our behind-the-scenes look...
Shooting starts on Monday. Before diving headfirst into the
experience, director Scott Zakarin wanted to talk a bit about
the legacy he feels he's shouldering.
the cameras roll, Scott has also been spending this past week
working with the actors in some pretty intensive rehearsal.
There are much bigger films that have not paid this much attention
to the craft of acting, and it should pay off.
he preps that, another arm of Creative Light Entertainment
readies for the release of Comic
Book: The Movie, which has split a few focuses.
What's going on right now?
Zakarin: Well, we're in the middle of rehearsal. We had
a rehearsal this morning, and it went pretty well.
You have a full week of rehearsal, right?
Yes. We have rehearsals, tech scouts, storyboards finishing.
This week is just about everything you can imagine. It's like
building a house and preparing a wedding. Put those things
together and you can imagine what it's like to get ready.
Everything's going all right so far?
I'm giddy. I'm seeing some wonderful actors bringing my lines
to life. It's exciting.
one thing I'd like to talk about. I watched the Fredric March
version of Jekyll and Hyde again, and I've been re-reading
the novella, and finding it to be quite an interesting experience
walking in the shadow of these amazing things.
We've only brushed against this concept when talking about
your inspiration. Do you feel a weight on your shoulders about
the most influential version on Scott...
There have been a lot of versions of Jekyll and Hyde. There's
been everything from Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll
and Mr. Hyde to Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde. There's
been so many liberties taken with it.
has been to be really faithful to the novella and all the
more meaningful works that came out of that, before this.
As I've mentioned before, my favorite version is the Fredric
March one, directed by Rouben Mamoulian. It's just a beautiful,
wonderful version, so far ahead of its time that really, everyone
who reads this article should go right out and rent that movie.
It was just re-released on a DVD as a double feature with
the Spencer Tracy version.
And Bugs Bunny. They've got the Bugs Bunny Jekyll and Hyde
in there. So I'm going to run out and buy lots of copies to
show all my actors. It's so great, though I'm not so crazy
about the Spencer Tracy version. I thought it was overly wordy.
time I thought of doing a modern day Jekyll and Hyde update
was after seeing the Broadway show about three years ago.
I was trying to see the show Fosse or something, but
that was sold out.
ended up seeing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and I thought
the show was pretty good. But what I really felt was wow,
what a great story. Every version I've ever seen has been
set in Robert Louis Stevenson's intended time.
I thought, what a story of addiction.
I was watching the movie yesterday I was thinking, wow, this
movie was made seventy-two years ago. Everybody in this movie
is dead. And yet everyone went out there, and made this. And
I do feel in the shadow of that. I do feel that Robert Louis
Stevenson is somewhere looking over my shoulder.
you wonder if the guy making Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde
was thinking the same thing.
hard to take yourself too seriously, but you know that at
the same time that you're treading on very serious work. For
me, it's a very important special film. As I work with my
actors, I can see that it's becoming a part of them.
my lead actor, who has been studying, doing research, getting
into all of the nuances and wanting to be there for every
second of rehearsal that he can.
that there's something magical about taking something that
has endured for this long and trying to give it a fresher
Not only are you working in the shadow of something so big,
you're hoping that this will make an impact. Do you feel that
you're working on something that will last, or in this age
of disposable pop culture, is that almost too silly to think?
first look at Mark Teague's
design for Hyde...
When I'm making this thing, I think I'm doing something special
the whole way. When I look at any scene, no scene is a throwaway.
Everything has to be meaningful. How often do you get the
opportunity to shoot a scene of a movie? You might as well
do everything you can to find what's special about it, or
how it fits into the project.
guess I feel that if all the pieces of it fit together and
make a wonderful whole, of course it's going to last. I certainly
have the cast to do it. I have the great production design
of Mark Teague. I'm
working with my friend and longtime collaborative producer
of me feels like we're doing something special. Part of you
has to feel that way. But no, I'm not daunted.
I'm daunted a little bit that we're trying to do this on a
modest budget. I want to make sure that we get everything
feel strength from having the crutch of Stevenson's masterful
beginning. I know that at the very least, we'll reach a certain
level because of that. But from here on in, it's up to us
to take it further. I'd like to think that he'd like this
version. I do feel a connection to the past.
Do you feel that the cast is sharing your awe?
Certainly my lead actor is totally gung ho. And actually,
a lot of the actors are in awe of each other. We've assembled
a wonderful cast. I get the sense that they feel that they're
on something special.
of them who are busy working actors came in thinking it was
a job between shooting an episode of Law and Order
and a commercial. But now they're here, they're giving it
the respect, and I just hope we can keep the momentum up.
view of Hyde...
thing about momentum is that you keep going, but the bad thing
is that you may have a ledge to fall off of. That's what makes
it so much fun…
of the things that intrigue me lie in updating the characters.
For example, in the original novella, you have the Utterson
character. My Utterson is a woman. Every other version either
didn't have Utterson or combined him with the Lanyon character,
making him more menacing.
the things I was doing in rehearsal today was focusing on
the actor who plays Carew. The character was killed in the
original novella, then in one of the movie versions he became
the father of Jekyll's fiancée, and then in every version
from that, including the musical, he's continued to have that
And you've left that in the update.
I've left that in the update. What I did was show the actors
the history of it. Each one treats it a different way. My
update may take it into today's age and have today's sensibilities,
but ultimately the relationship still is the same. It's an
issue of control, it's an issue of "this is the way it's supposed
to be" towards the daughter.
thing I'm screwing with is how he takes the potion. That's
the most modern-day aspect to it.
Which has to be. You're tapping into modern fears.
The fear that we're becoming cyber. Even when I was talking
to the actors about it, they're concerned about being replaced
by something virtual.
to that is that I don't know. But my feeling is that it's
just going to take away the thirty-five million dollar prima
donna actors. At that price, you can afford to create
an actor who is wonderful and a better performer.
an artist is an artist. You need a person.
a fear? I don't know. I think it's just evolution. They even
say that in one of the versions. I think it's the Fredric
didn't dream about these lights that need gasoline all the
time, instead of just wax they have kerosene. And you'll see
- one day they'll have luminants. You'll see the way the city
lights up, and you'll be awe of that."
the dreamers of the world that make it go forward.
And now, almost as if Stevenson predicted it, we do take chemicals
to alter our personalities.
Absolutely. Well, not alter - we take them to cure
our personalities. Unless you're talking about recreational
I'm talking about curing the personality then. If you'd like
to talk about recreational drugs, we can, but that's a different
No, we can talk about that here. I do think Jekyll is an addict.
The goal is to create prozac, but in the end he basically
Along those lines, you've done something interesting with
Jekyll in his fascination with Hyde as a pure innocent. He
refuses to believe that Hyde can commit any meaningful violence,
and yet that's juxtaposed with Hyde being basically a videogame
character whose very existence serves just to destroy things
Right. Even when he's playing him, it's not a big deal, because
when you're playing your videogame and you're slashing and
killing and burning, it doesn't mean anything.
he programmed that into Jekyll. Very astute of you to pick
that up. We may be giving away a little too much plot, but
I don't mind.
It's an interesting subtext for the conflict there. Are you
meaning to say anything about the video age?
No, not really. In my mind, the video age is a good thing.
It's part of evolution. It's natural.
is interesting to me is how things get more and more efficient.
By becoming more and more efficient, you start to realize
that power is infinite, too. And what does that mean? What
does it mean for all the evil that it can do as well as all
the good it can do?
March's version he says, if evil could be taken care of, then
good could truly be left to find its purpose.
and Hyde are not necessarily good and evil.
It's a grayer line between the two.
It's accountability versus non-accountability.
makes us civilized, that's responsibility. Jekyll has responsibility,
Hyde has none. Hyde is responsible only to his own pleasures
In your role as producer on this, are you essentially done
with Comic Book: The Movie, and free to focus on Jekyll, or
is it an extra stress to be dealing with the impending release
of the DVD?
Most of the work on Comic Book: The Movie has been
done. Actually, Jekyll has taken my mind off the stress
of releasing Comic Book. We had a screening, which
I looked forward to.
such different projects. The nice thing is that they're both
targeted to genre fans. Clearly, though, one is a satirical
comedy and the other is a classic tragedy.
You've mentioned the storyboards a bit - you're feeling confident
they'll be done?
As long as you have a good shot list, you don't really need
a storyboard, in my opinion. But storyboarding key scenes,
complicated scenes does really help the different departments
keep it together. They're working out the effects. Teague
is busy building props like crazy.
rabbit finally comes to life...
How close a reign do you keep over the storyboarding?
Well, it's the first time you're visualizing a movie. You
take the movie from script, which in this case I wrote, but
you take that and visualize, then you start to rehearse. You
do blocking, and sometimes you redo the storyboard.
a lot like doing a painting. You start with the pencil drawing
on the page. Then you go into your underpainting, your blacks
and your greys. Then maybe you do another layer, until you
reach your top layer. And that's your movie.
what this is, only it's finished when you do your final mix,
your final color correction, and you're ready to show.
So are you ready to shoot on Monday?
We may shoot Tuesday. Only because one of the locations may
make us do a shoot on Saturday.
feel ready? Yeah. I'm ready to rock and roll.
discussions with Scott on the Making of Jekyll:
discussions with Scott Zakarin on the Making of Jekyll: