Exclusive interview with the director of Conan – Marcus Nispel

Some weeks ago we started a blunt project and collected questions from the community on this blog and in the official Conan forums for an interview with Marcus Nispel, the director of the upcoming Conan movie. Even though the success of the project was not sure at start, we send it off into the aether in hope to get an answer back, from the powers that be and by Crom we got an answer!

Here is the exclusive interview with Marcus Nispel, the director of the Conan movie.

Interview with Marcus Nispel

How important is it to you to stick to the Conan character of the original REH stories?

The character of Conan is what most attracted me to this project. He is the last of the reality-based superheroes and the most unapologetic one at that. I find that refreshing in these politically correct times.

Did you read the REH Conan stories, and if so, which one is your favorite story and why?

I have no favorite story – the character is what intrigues me, following him through life.

What do you think are the predominant qualities of the Conan character?

Well, it’s all spelled out on the opening page. Conan is “a man of great mirth and great melancholy”. Though, I had to look up what “mirth” meant, I certainly dig the melancholy aspect. To me, that really sets Conan apart from other heroes.

What are your thoughts on the previous Conan films? What did you like or dislike?

The original “Conan” movie was written by two master storytellers, Oliver Stone and John Milius, giving us a tough act to follow! Their movie also features the best beheading ever in a major motion picture. Besides, perhaps “Let the Right One In”, which is another perfect example of creativity over special effects.

Like all movies they have to be understood in the context of the time they were produced. Our collective consciousness changes every generation, though and we can’t step into the same river twice. “Conan the Barbarian” was initially released in the disco era, on the heels of “Star Wars” and “The Empire Strikes Back”. The original film must have hit people like a freight train upon its release. Today is a different time entirely. As a society, we are more cynical in times of depression. We have been overfed with high gloss and contrived CG imagery and seek something we can grasp. As our consciousness has shifted, so will the image of Conan.

What guidelines for the actor who portrays Conan would you give to your casting director?

We’re not interested in doing an Arnold look-alike contest!

What are your thoughts on the REH themes (“barbarism vs civilization” and “existentialism”)

As I already said, we are all getting a little fed up with our own civilization. I’m guilty of several remakes, but am fully aware that a remake of great material does not automatically equal success. A movie like this needs to hit the zeitgeist.

In all of my movies, I am drawn to tribal behavior since I grow easily bored with the antiseptic world in which we live. I like to give people a second hand idea of what its like to have dirt under your fingernails. Most of all, I like getting dirt under my nails making it! I want to create a cathartic experience!

Are you aiming for an ‘R’ rating with this movie?

I’d love to do the x-rated version!

What do you have in mind for sword fights? More asian swirling swords, or more realistic fighting?

Conan is no Errol Flynn and there will be no “frozen moments”, but he will spar with a host of characters that fight in their unique own ways. We all know that Hyboria is an ethnically diverse world. Conan will have to adapt his style slightly to conquer them.

Will you aim to make a movie with varied pacing and different emotional moods, or a high-paced action epic?

I will include different emotional moods in a high-paced action epic. One approach need not exclude the other.