Uwe Boll is famous for being infamous. The German director is often derided as one of the all-time worst directors, with such stinkers as House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark, and In The Name of the King to his name. His latest film, BloodRayne: The Third Reich is the third in the BloodRayne series, about a human/vampire hybrid who travels across the ages to fight evil. We sat down with the gregarious director to talk about video games, his career choices, and working with the stunning Natassia Malthe.
You do a lot of movies based on video games. Are you a hardcore gamer?
I am not. My nephew is. He is a World of Warcraft addict. I told him he needs rehab. When I was young, there was only the Atari. I played Asteroids - stuff like that. They were very primitive compared to what we have today. But I follow what is going on in the gaming industry, what games are hard, what games are being made into movies.
Do you go to your nephew for video game advice?
Yes. I get a lot of game offers, but a lot of times they don't have much of an audience, or they are only popular in one country. I turn those down, telling them I need worldwide games. My nephew always gives me tips [on what is popular]. But I don't get World of Warcraft or any of these games. Also, they are tough to get movie deals on. There are a few games I have tried to get the rights for but it is not getting easier because Hollywood [started making money with video game movies]. Now the whole studio system is behind it.
Is there any franchise in particular you want the rights to?
I tried to get Metal Gear Solid, for example, but I didn't get it. And the new Call of Duty game. I think it's an amazing game, but I don't think it should be made into a movie. I think it would damage [the franchise]. I also think Halo would not end up as a good movie. You have to be so technically advanced, it would have to top Avatar. If you made that movie in the same quality as like The Green Hornet, then they would have to stop the video game. And I think they know that.
You have worked with Natassia Malthe several times before. What do you like about your working relationship?
She has a dance background, so that is very good for the fight scenes. And she is easy-going. You can give her shit and she doesn't get pissed off. She keeps going with the next shot. I am a very cynical person, so I don't want to baby actors. I need adults who can motivate themselves. It was because of this that it was tough for me to work with Ray Liotta [on In the Name of the King]. He's a very good actor, but he's not easy to work with. Same with Michael Madsen in BloodRayne 1. Actors like this need your full attention; otherwise they get pissed off. As a director, it takes your energy away from the film itself.
The action in BloodRayne 3 seems more fluid than in the second one.
This was a mistake we made on BloodRayne 2. The costumes were too real. You had the real swords hanging. But I watched the Blade movies again. You see that as soon as he puts the swords away, it is just a stump [just the hilt; no blade]. So on BloodRayne 3 we did just that. It's much better for the actors because they don't have to carry those heavy weapons when they are not in the shot.
Are you planning another BloodRayne film?
Yeah. I think it would be interesting to put Rayne in a contemporary time period. What would the character do now? She cannot walk around the city in that costume. But this would be interesting, to see how she fits in to society. I think she would be working at the FBI or Homeland Security. It would make sense to have her live underground as a spy or something. We thought about what would happen if she had a normal family, and she is only BloodRayne at night. But I think that does not reflect her character. She is like a lone rider. We will put her in a different type of coat though. And of course, it would have to be shot in winter so no one would question why she is running around San Diego in a coat. Plus, of course, we always shoot in winter. BloodRayne needs that winter look. It also fits well with vampires in general.
Would you film it in Germany?
I don't know. We are developing a few ideas right now, working on a few scripts. If BloodRayne does well on DVD, maybe we can do it next winter. I would like to do another. No BloodRayne ever repeats [an era]. It's fresh.
You are considered by many critics to be the worst director of all time. Do you ever take these criticisms to heart? Over the years, has it effected the way you direct?
Totally. In the earlier years, with House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark, it was effecting me. The good effect was that I tried to learn from the more substantial critics. Like script development. We went into production too early with Alone in the Dark. But a lot of other films do that, too. But we had pressure from the investors in Germany. We had to spend their money quick because they were waiting for the tax write-off [until 2005, German tax laws allowed investors to write off all money invested into films, and provisions that would allow investors to write off additional amounts if the movie tanked]. So we just couldn't sit for a year and a half to develop a script. When the money came, we had to go into pre-production. So we were writing the script, scouting locations, and locking down the crew all at the same time. I changed that later, with In the Name of the King, where we just didn't really give a shit about the investors. We said we will not shoot before we have something. For me, this was a very important step. I think the movies got better from that point.
When the German tax laws changed, was that when you were able to change the way you made movies?
Yeah. The absurd thing was that even if I got less money for a movie - now my budgets are around $5 million - but it gives more freedom. You can plan it longer, you can develop it longer. I was never the kind of guy who said, "I need this amount of money to do a movie." As long as we have enough money to pull it off - from costume to camera to design - then it makes sense. It is a limitation, but not a bad one.
Did you have any problems convincing Natassia to do the girl-on-girl scene?
She didn't like the other girls. She always had something to criticize about them. But we kept shooting until we had [more than] enough in the can. We did have to do a lot in ADR, the [mimics moaning] "uhh uhh" because on set, she was so silent! She and the other girl would like, be kissing or something, and I thought my headphones were broken. They were very shy. I told her, "Look, it's bloodlust. This is what we need in a vampire movie." I think it is good that we did it - I'm happy I forced her to do it.