The writing team behind Clash Of The Titans talk about how their childhood love of the original informed the remake.
The remake of the 1981 adventure classic, which opens in 2D and 3D across North America through Warner Bros on April 2, is directed by Louis Leterrier, whose credits include The Incredible Hulk, Transporter 2 and Danny The Dog.
How did you get involved in the project?
Hay: We’d worked with Basil [Iwanyk, producer] before and with the studio before and had good experiences. Basil called us and we were extremely into it and we were big fans of the original. Louis had just been hired and we came in and met with him and started sharing ideas straight away.
Manfredi: Clash came out at a time in both of our childhoods when we were reading the Greek myths and it was the first monster movie we had seen, so it was very exciting.
Working from Travis Beacham’s script, you ended up writing ten drafts. Which elements from the original film did you want to preserve and what key changes did you introduce?
Manfredi: We wanted to take everything we loved from the original that fans had to have in the movie – Medusa, the Kraken, Calibos and the witches. We wanted to get more inside Perseus’ head and find out what was motivating him and we wanted more interaction between men and the gods. The movie ends up being about Perseus’ finding his way in the world.
Hay: We wanted to develop this idea of Perseus being torn between the side of him that’s a man and the side that’s a god. What he’s always hated about the gods is their arrogance and their lack of care of humans so when he goes on his quest he does it to show the worth of men in a way… First and foremost we wanted to make sure it was this rollicking adventure story full of fun and excitement and momentum, working in the set pieces from the original.
There is less interaction between all the gods in your version and more focus on the relationship between Zeus and his brother Hades.
Manfredi: “Hades is a darker figure, so he was a natural fit for the villain. But the more we read about his relationship with the gods, the stories of him and his brothers dividing up the world after they defeat the Titans, we saw this great story of betrayal that really clarified things for us. Up on Olympus it’s a story about two brothers. As big geeks we wanted to see all the gods because it’s fun to see what they can do, but as the writing continued it became about paring down to what served the story best.”
How do you write together?
Manfredi: We outline very meticulously and break it down scene by scene. I will take one and Phil will take the other and we will go off and write and swap and edit and fight. There’s a lot of fighting.
Hay: A lot of fighting.
Manfredi: Once we have a complete document we review it. We were in a very small room with two desks. We camped out at the studio for six months and it was like a commune, with Basil and Louis down the corridor in their offices.
What was it like to work with Leterrier?
Hay: What we immediately discovered the moment we met Louis was we had a similar complete lack of cynicism about mythology and this kind of movie. His energy is very much on screen. Together we approached this whole endeavour with a lot of love and tried to recapture the excitement we felt as kids when we watched the movie for the first time. In the past people have recognised [Louis’] technical and action skills, which are of the highest level, and we discovered he also deeply cares about characters and story and whatever goes into making an organic adventure movie. We had the best time.
You call it an organic adventure. So could there be a sequel?
Both: We’ve got lots of ideas, but first things first: let’s see how the movie does!
What are you doing next?
Manfredi: We have The Boys, which is a graphic novel adaptation set up at Sony about a group of somewhat regular guys who police the narcissistic superheroes of the world.
Hay: Not unlike Clash Of The Titans in a way. We’ve also got R.I.P.D. set up at Universal and that’s a Ghostbusters-type story. Then we have a story with Todd Phillips [The Hangover] called Staycation that’s set up at Warner Bros.