In Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Crank and Gamer directors Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine take us to the highways of rural Turkey where Nicolas Cage's head explodes into a vengeful fireball. io9 spoke with the directors about the craziness of the film's shoot and Cage's voodoo method acting.
First off, one of the most visually striking aspects of Spirit of Vengeance is how you frame the story with these vast shots of the Eastern European highway system.
Brian Taylor: We went on scouts, but in terms of filming and production, everything is guerilla with us. We have no time and no money and we're in a country that is not our language with only one of our original crew members.
Mark Neveldine: There was almost no film infrastructure. The perception is that we're these guys who always do these fucked-up movies, and now we're working with a big studio and a Marvel Comics character. People think, "Oh, it's the big time now!" No, this is about as punk rock as any shoot we've ever done, and more so in a lot of ways. We had times where major stunts would go completely wrong, but they failed so spectacularly. You don't have the time and money to do it again, so you have to rewrite the scene on the fly.
BT: At one point, there's a car crash on a bridge. The car was just supposed to slide into the divider, but it instead almost killed our stunt guy. We had to rewrite on the spot.
MN: We were out there in remote locations where they don't make movies. Fortunately, the locations are fucking amazing, Cappadocia, Transylvania. In Cappadocia, the mayor gave us the key to the city.
BT: We didn't really understand what anyone was saying, but they were excited to see us, and we were excited to be there. Imagine the desert planet from Star Wars IRL, but with some of the best food you've ever had.
How did you create Ghost Rider's voice? It's got this swarm-of-locusts quality about it.
BT: We had Nick do it, but we also did something really strange. Nick's son Weston is a supernatural character in his own right, and we had him come in and do some incredible otherworldly vocals. We mixed Weston's voice in with his dad's when Ghost Rider speaks.
What's the best way to coax a great performance out of Nic Cage?
MN: Let him be who he is, and just roll the camera. He's boiling to try something once he hits set, and you must be ready to go. He loves direction, actually. He craves it.
BT: Nic is incredible passionate and creative, and he doesn't always get the opportunity to bring passion to a project. The last thing Nic ever wants to feel like is, "Oh, it's just a job, time to collect my paycheck." If he detects that attitude, he's going to turn off. When he saw that we were taking Ghost Rider seriously, he brought his A-game.
Did you ever see Nic's cloak of relics?
MN: Oh yeah, we discussed all of this stuff. In the first movie, Ghost Rider was played by stuntmen and CG creations. Nic never played Ghost Rider. In this movie, Nic plays a dual role. The demon Zarathos has a different posture, a different physicality that's all Nic.
And Irdis Elba has a very idiosyncratic role — normally you think of him as these stoic men like John Luther or Stringer Bell, but he's this zany drunk monk in Spirit of Vengeance.
BT: It's the same way we felt about Jason Statham in the Crank movies. He has this reputation for playing terse, icy characters, and nobody really knew what a goofball he is. Statham is one of the funniest guys you'll ever meet. We wanted to bring out the Statham we know, and it's the same with Idris. He's super-charismatic and funny, which you notice five minutes after meeting him.
Last time we talked, you mentioned that there were flaming hookers who never made it past your studio pitch. So I have to ask — is there concept art of the Ghost Rider ski lift the characters joke about at one point?
MN: It didn't really get that far, but wouldn't it melt all the snow?
Maybe he skis on lava.
BT: If this movie does really well, who knows? The natural progression is, "What will Ghost Rider ride next?"
Do you guys have any early ideas for a follow-up Ghost Rider film?
MN: Taking it even further and grittier. Maybe have him to go to Hell. There's so many ways you can go with it.
And let's close with the standard, "Where's Crank 3?"
BT: Maybe our next project is Ghost Rider versus Chev Chelios. And they're both on fire!
I would pay good money to see that.
BT: It doesn't even have to be good money! It can be counterfeit!
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance opens February 17.