The producer talks Bank Job, Dark Knight and The Flash.
Movie fans probably don't know the name Charles (or "Chuck") Roven but chances are you've enjoyed plenty of the blockbusters he's produced. The short list includes Three Kings, 12 Monkeys, Scooby Doo, Batman Begins and the upcoming Dark Knight, The Flash and Get Smart.
Roven's latest effort is entitled The Bank Job, a heist flick based on the most outrageous and bizarre true crime tale you've never heard of. After the Baker Street heist went down in London in 1971, a gag order was issued to the press effectively killing the telling of the story ever since. The events around the heist involve sexual conspiracies within Parliament and the Royal Family, mob relations and more. The tale is so wild that it wouldn't be believable if it were solely a work of fiction. The movie stars Jason Statham and Saffron Burrows. It is directed by Roger Donaldson.
reelz.com recently sat with Roven for a brief interview. Sadly, the interview took place mere days after the tragic passing of Heath Ledger, so the producer was in a very somber mood.
JEFF OTTO, reelz.com: I know the timing of this interview is tough for you and I first want to offer condolences.
CHARLES ROVEN: Thank you. You know that I had a close relationship with him.
JO: I understand. Well, we'll start off discussing The Bank Job and then move onto other projects. Just let me know if there are things you'd rather not talk about today.
JO: The Bank Job has a pretty unique ensemble cast of both name and character actors and there is also a strong authenticity to the casting.
CR: It was more of an English comedy when [Roger Donaldson] first got the script. That's what Dick [Clement] and Ian [La Frenais] had done and he added more thriller elements to it. In fact, the real story had more thriller elements to it...
One of the things that he forced us to do was go out there and hire investigators and do everything he could to find out the real facts to the story. It was not easy, but it was like peeling back an onion and we got more and more... There's a lot of layers and each of the layers moved us more in the direction that Roger wanted to go into that thriller area. He also insisted that it be as accurate and authentic as possible. He wanted all of the English to be played by English [actors]. Not Australia, not New Zealand... In many cases, he actually wanted them to come from the area of England where our characters came from. Jason [Statham] and Saffron [Burrows] do... He spent a tremendous amount of time casting the movie, working with people, meeting people and that's how we compiled the rest of the cast.
JO: Had you ever heard about this bank heist beforehand?
CR: I had never heard about it. I didn't know anything about it beforehand... One of the things that appealed to me about it was the fact that it was this fabulous story that was so completely under the radar. I mean, nobody knew about it... But yet, when you talk to people about it [in the U.K.] they kind of go, "Oh yeah, I remember that..." It's like an urban legend story. Why did these guys break in? What did they get? Did they get away? But the great thing is, the thing that blew me away the most, we heard the authentic tape of the ham radio conversation that the walkie-talkie operator [overheard of the bank robbers during the robbery]. That's an amazing bit. We [also] found these tapes of [newscasters from the time] talking about this robbery the day after it happened. You go, "this really isn't bulls***. This really happened!"
JO: And that's the really amazing part, because if people thought this movie were a work of fiction, they might view it as a little far-fetched.
CR: Exactly. That's really what got me jazzed about it because it's also what separates it from being just another heist movie.
JO: Will you be putting archival footage or the ham radio tapes you just mentioned on the DVD?
CR: We're definitely talking about it. We're just trying to clear that stuff. If we can, it will be on there.
JO: This week's events aside, where do you see the Batman franchise going after The Dark Knight?
CR: The most important thing about [it is] I'm involved in the process mainly because of Chris Nolan. It's his vision that we're all executing. He is a one film at a time kind of guy and he'll figure out what and if he's going to do anything right after he finishes The Dark Knight. He's right in the middle of his cut.
JO: What is the status on The Flash? Ryan Reynolds has been the on-again, off-again rumor as a casting choice. Is there any truth to that?
CR: Honestly, we've never ever been far enough along in the project to even talk about casting. Everything you've heard about who might be The Flash is 100 percent a rumor because we've never had one casting conversation about it.
JO: David Dobkin is directing. Considering the movies he's done like Wedding Crashers and Shanghai Knights, do you see The Flash having a more comical, tongue-in-cheek element?
CR: I think it's definitely going to be its own thing. We think that we've come up with something that's going to separate it from other superhero movies. The Flash is definitely a superhero. Batman's not really a superhero -- he's a real person who has made himself into a unique, incredible person. But The Flash is a superhero and we want it to be something different and we think we have that. It's going to have a different tone than The Dark Knight, but it's not going to be tongue-in-cheek. It will definitely be straight ahead.
JO: I'm really looking forward to that one. The Flash is one of my favorite characters.
CR: Mine too. He's been around for a long time in a lot of different incarnations... I think they've done really interesting things with all of The Flash comics. I like Wally, I like Barry...