Director D.J. Caruso has a pretty eclectic resume as a filmmaker, helming all kinds of movies, from The Salton Sea to The Disappointments Room. Now, he’s starting off 2017 with the year’s first big action movie, xXx: Return of Xander Cage. Screen Rant sat down with Causo at the xXx press day to talk about why he wanted to make the movie and how difficult shooting the movie’s big action set-pieces was.
Caruso also talks about his desire to make a G.I. Joe/Transformers crossover movie, and comments on his former—and potential future—involvement in the TV adaptation of Y: The Last Man.
What attracted you to xXx?
D.J. Caruso: What attracted me was, I remember seeing Xander Cage fifteen years ago, and seeing that jacket, and seeing the swag, and remembering that rebel who kind of became a patriot, which was sort of—at the time, the Bond franchise was struggling a little bit, and it kind of reminded me of like, “wouldn’t it be cool to introduce this again?” Because—outside of Deadpool—I hadn’t had that much fun in an action movie, where you just have fun.
That’s interesting that you mention that, because I was thinking the same thing, like—now that you’ve hit it right on the head—it’s that Deadpool, fun action vibe. I loved it.
D.J. Caruso: Yeah, and so I think that audiences are looking for that, cause sometimes it is just the Sullivan’s Travels of just escaping and enjoying it, and having a good time.
Well it’s a nice change, because I’ve been watching a lot of Oscar movies recently, so it’s a nice change. Which part of this film was the hardest to shoot? Because there’s tons of action in this movie.
D.J. Caruso: I would say, by far—well I shouldn’t say by far—but I would say that the zero-g fight in the C-17 was very difficult because of the coordination. But the most difficult would be the motorcycles on the water, in the ocean. Because [stunt cyclist] Robbie Maddison had come up with this great rig, and this great design, that got us pretty good in flat water. And when we got out towards the waves [laughs] there’s about five or six bikes on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean somewhere, just because it was so hard to get in that wave. We got in it once, and you can see part of it in the movie, but that was the most difficult because you envision it in your head, you work with the stunt people, and then just the weather conditions and all those different elements—that was the one that I lost the most sleep over.
You had a huge international cast. What did you learn from any of them? Because they come from tone of different backgrounds.
D.J. Caruso: Any time as a director, whether you’re working with a big cast where—even if they’re all from the same country—there’s always an adjustment you have to make to direct each person. But I would say the education for me here really came from working with Tony Jaa, and working with Donnie Yen, who are two masters. And working with camera, and collaborating them with the choreography on the weekends, was some of the highlights for me as a filmmaker, because it was kind of like a pinch me moment. And at the same time they’re both so schooled in what works and where you should make a cut, and the stuntmen that you choose to fight against them are vital in selling what’s exactly happening. So that was my biggest education, was working with Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa.
I can only imagine. It has been rumored that you’ve been attached—or wanting to do—G.I. Joe 3. You want to incorporate the Transformers. Is that gonna happen?
D.J. Caruso: I would like for it to happen. Paramount and I—right before I started this—were kind of working on that, and met with Dwayne [“The Rock” Johnson], and were discussing it. And that was where I would like to see—if I was gonna be involved in G.I. Joe—that franchise go. And I think there might be a chance, so we’ll see what happens.
So that’s like a subtle yes.
D.J. Caruso: [laughs] A subtle yes.
You’re also attached to one of my favorite comic series of all time, Y: The Last Man. What’s the status of that?
D.J. Caruso: I’m no longer attached, but it’s so funny that you say that. It was one of those times—it was at the time where I saw that series as a trilogy. I thought if you’re gonna make that movie, it’s a trilogy, and I think at the time New Line and Warner Brothers wanted one standalone movie. And so it’s kind of been in development slog over the course of the years, but we’re talking about that. We had a talk about that two weeks ago, about kind of revisiting, and seeing if a great television platform might be the best way to take that series over five years.