Yesterday, The Source Magazine had the opportunity to exclusively interview “Underworld” and “I, Frankenstein” Creator Kevin Grevioux who came out to New York Comic Con this weekend to promote his new film “I, Frankenstein,” which will be released January 24, 2014 by Lionsgate.
Q: What inspired the graphic novel for “I, Frankenstein”?
Grevioux: My screenplay. I’m the one who wrote the original screenplay and sold that to Lakeshore. The graphic novel was an afterthought to help me sell and visualize the screenplay, so I could sell it. Actually what happened is I did the concept for “I, Frankenstein” back in 2007 and pitched it to Lakeshore. As you know I did “Underworld” with them. And so I thought it would be a good fit for them, but they didn’t understand it. So what I did is I went back, wrote the screenplay and was going to go wide with it and they read the screenplay, they loved it, and I wrote the graphic novel–or at a least partial graphic novel to help illustrate the world I was gonna create. And they snapped it right up. So the graphic novel actually came much later.
Q: Can you talk about the process of turning “I, Frankenstein” into a movie?
Grevioux: Well, you know, it’s like I said. I pitched it to Lakeshore back in 2007, but what I wanted to do is do for “I, Frankenstein” what I did for “Underworld,” which was basically take what are traditionally known as horror characters and making them into action characters, action films. And I thought Frankenstein, after doing werewolves and vampires, was the next logical choice. So I created this entire monster world where Frankenstein was the Thundercat, so to speak, who basically held everything together and I would be telling more monster stories through this character and putting him in different situations. That’s how it came to be.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the casting for “I, Frankenstein”? (The cast includes Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto, Socratis Otto, Jai Courtney and Kevin Grevioux. The film was directed and co-written by Stuart Beattie.)
Grevioux: Yes, at first I remember I was brought into a meeting to talk about potentials. There was talk about Ray Stevenson, Idris Elba, there was even talk about using Michael Sheen at one point as Frankenstein. But then Aaron Eckhart’s name came up and I was also asked, ‘Does Frankenstein have to be a big guy?’ because I had a role that I created for myself in the screenplay. So my thinking was whoever plays Frankenstein has to be bigger than I am, and I’m 6’2” 250. So I wanted someone who was about 6’4” at least. But then Aaron Eckhart’s name came up and if you’re talking about an actor who looms large and not necessarily physically, he is your man. He’s a prodigious actor, he is dedicated, full of passion, and he responded to the material and he just brings an integrity to the role that I thought was so visceral that he was the only choice.
Q: Where did your passion for comics come from?
Grevioux: I’m going to say that I have always been a fan of science. But before that it was science fiction. But there was no real way to do science fiction for a living, but growing up, when you have these fantastic worlds, you know be they action or horror or sci-fi or a superhero origin, comic books I think is the natural median and it just opens up the imagination and of course they were all great comic book writers. I think of Marv Wolfman, Stan Lee, Len Wein, they were all inspired by the great science fiction writers like H.G. Wells, Philip K. Dick, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Philip Wylie, Richard Matheson, and Harlan Ellison, when you have people like that in your heroic lexicon you can’t help but be influenced by it and comic books provided me with that kind of crucible.
Q: Growing up what would you say some of your favorite comics were?
Grevioux: I was a huge fan of the Fantastic Four. After that it was the Hulk, in fact the Hulk and the Fantastic Four are probably my favorites. And then a close second is probably Thor. I’ve worked for Marvel and DC now you know since I created “Underworld” and so I’ve written characters like Superman, Batman, Thor, The New Warriors, and I actually created a character for Marvel Comics called the Blue Marvel and they have just made him an Avenger.
Q: Wow, congratulations!
Grevioux: Thank you. And then, all of that led me to start my own comic book company Darkstorm Comics.
Q: You are probably best known for creating “Underworld,” can you speak about what inspired that idea?
Grevioux: It was a combination of things, what the most poignant reasons was…based on interracial dating that I’ve done. You notice that you get a lot of funny looks. And I was thinking, wow you know, in this modern day and age…and so I was thinking how would I use that as a way to tell a cool, slick, sci-fi story? And so I thought of pitting vampires against werewolves and telling this Romeo and Juliet story amongst this century spanning race war and that’s how it came to be.
Q: Did you expect the film to be this huge success with all of these sequels?
Grevioux: Well, it’s not anything you can expect. But I do think you can say it’s a cool idea, you know what I’m saying? And I think that goes a long way to becoming a success. If you can look at the concept for what it is and say, you know what, this is cool. This is unique. This hasn’t been done before. That’s half the battle.
Q: You’ve also acted in several movies, does that inspire your writing?
Grevioux: A lot of times it does, but really the concept comes first. I just insert myself in where I can. But I love acting, it’s fun, it’s exciting, you know. And I love bringing characters to life.
Q: If you had the chance to portray any comic book superhero or character, who would it be and why?
Grevioux: It would probably be the Blue Marvel, the character I created for Marvel Comics. The reason being is, he was a football player, I was a football player. He was a scientist, I was a scientist. He experienced a lot of racism early in his life, I experienced a lot of racism early in my life. He’s a superhero and I love superheroes. So basically in creating the Blue Marvel I inserted myself into the Marvel Universe.
Q: How do you feel about the lack of diversity in comics nowadays?
Grevioux: I think it’s appalling. But I don’t necessarily think it’s done deliberately or purposely, I think in terms of hate. I think it happens because there is a dearth of creators of color. Now there are plenty of artists, but there aren’t a lot of Black writers, there aren’t a lot of Asian writers, there aren’t a lot of Hispanic writers or East Indian writers. There aren’t a lot of women. You know, and I think once they get in there they can tell their own stories. The thing is I think comic book editors or owners are afraid to rock the boat too much because their audiences are really primarily white males. And they have to appeal to them because they spend the money and they have the money and so you appeal to them first and then everyone else you deal with on a secondary, tertiary, or quaternary level.
Q: If you had the chance to take over any comic story or series, which one would it be and why?
Grevioux: It would probably be Thor or the Fantastic Four. I think it’s because those characters provide a nexus of realities, when it comes to science fiction, fantasy, action, spirituality, there’s a lot going on there. And I think those series would be definitely the ones I would like to explore the most.
Q: Other than “Underworld” and “I, Frankenstein,” which would you say would be your favorite comic book movies?
Grevioux: I think the original “Superman,” that set the table. The Christopher Reeves “Superman,” that set the table for how they should be done and on the scale they should be done. But I have to say “The Avengers” was really fun. I never thought they would be able to pull that off…never. I mean, never. I should say “Man of Steel,” was also excellent. And there was actually another one that I thought was really good “30 Days of Night,” that was good. I have to say “Sin City” and “300”…those were amazing. Those were amazing and to be honest, the best adapted one was probably “Sin City.”
Q: After “I, Frankenstein,” do you have any other projects coming up?
Grevioux: Yes I do. I’m doing a CGI…working on a CGI animated film based on my screenplay called “The Toy Box,” working on that. And a couple of other things I have to stay quiet about right now.