Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance: Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor Explain Ghost Rider's New Look and Explain How Nicolas Cage Got into Character
02.18.12 by BJSprecher
Now that Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is in theaters, those moviegoers who saw the first movie but haven't been following news about the latest chapter in Columbia Pictures' franchise based on Marvel Comics' demonic anti-hero might be a little confused, and rightfully so. After all, Academy Award-winning actor Nicolas Cage returns as Johnny Blaze, a man cursed to share his soul with the entity known as the Ghost Rider, but just about everything else is different, from Ghost Rider's origin to his look and his powers. What's up with that?
In a recent interview with GeekChicDaily, daredevil directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (Crank movies) explained how Spirit of Vengeance is a "re-quel" and not a sequel or complete reboot, discussed the Rider's new look and revealed that Cage performed in skull-face to get into character and intimidate "the hell out of the other actors."
Sony was already looking to "get away from the original movie" when the directing duo was called in to discuss the movie that would eventually become Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, explained Neveldine. He said that he found the idea "cool" and "exciting," and added that the end result should be "really good news for people who didn't like the first [movie]" — and there are plenty who didn't. Taylor said that they call the movie a "re-quel" because they saw it "as a reboot in every way except for Nic."
It owes a little bit to the first movie in that the things that happened in that movie, I guess they happened in this one, sort of, in a different way, at some point in the past which is undefined. It's the same guy, but we're picking up his story much later and basically starting all fresh.
Taylor said that the first thing that the directors wanted to change was the look of Ghost Rider himself, moving away from the shiny leather and spikes — which comic book aficionados know is actually the costume worn by the third Ghost Rider, Danny Ketch, who makes his first movie appearance in Spirit of Vengeance as a 10-year-old boy played by Fergus Riordan — and toward a more gritty, greasy, ash-and-oil look.
That was the first thing we brought to Sony, to say, look, we're really excited about the chance to do a movie like this and work with Nic, but there's a lot of things that have to change to make it our kinda movie, and the first thing is the way the guy looks. We had problems with the whole design of the character, the wardrobe, everything. It just seemed a little Disney and a little corny to us. We looked at the Ghost Rider as a more of a horror character than a superhero. He's a much darker force, and we wanted the look to reflect that.
Though Ghost Rider's trademark flaming skull is accomplished via CGI, Taylor said that Cage performed his Ghost Rider scenes in skull makeup to help him get into character.
[Makeup] was one of the things he did to both motivate and get himself into the Ghost Rider zone, but it also had the effect of intimidating the hell out of the other actors he was working across from... It was kinda like a Santeria voodoo zombie makeup. The performance he gave with the makeup is so amazing that we're actually including some of it on the Blu-ray so people can see what it was like before the CG got on him.
Neveldine added that the makeup and creepy contact lenses that Cage wore on set were "a big thing" to both the veteran actor and any actors working opposite him.
He had these black, black contact lenses. He didn't want to show up to set and just be Nic playing the Ghost Rider and then throw a CG head on after; he really wanted to intimidate the actor standing across from him. It was a big thing to him.
The Spirit of Vengeance screenplay was written by Scott M. Gimple, Seth Hoffman, and David S. Goyer, from a story by Goyer. Ciarán Hinds, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth), Violante Placido, and Christopher Lambert also star.