Gemini Man, the latest action film to incorporate the ethical question of human cloning, arrives in theaters on October 11th. Aside from featuring two complex performances from Will Smith, the movie boasts Ang Lee’s directorial vision. His past work in CG-heavy features makes him the perfect candidate for a story that relies on a digital star, and he spoke with Screen Rant about the filmmaking process.
Ang, the script for Gemini Man has been around for something like 22 years in Hollywood. With your experience with The Hulk and Life of Pi, why was now the right time for Gemini Man?
Ang Lee: Hulk was the first time I tried a full CG human figure. I learned a lot. Not only is it visual effects; it’s visual art. It was my first taste of not only human figures, but that whole way of moviemaking. It's the same thing that I did quite well with the tiger.
I thought, “[Let’s study] human faces. Let's see what happens.” I didn't know; I was just thinking in my head that that should be the next step.
You said that you had Will sit down and watch some of his older performances, like Independence Day and Fresh Prince. Why was that done with Will? Was it more to inform what you didn't want him to do, or what you did want him to do?
Ang Lee: Both, of course, obviously.
He's a good enough actor for me to shoot straight with him. There's certain things – it’s not that they’re good; that make him Will Smith, so successful, and that we love about him. But how do you [stay] aware of that and not [do them] here, or use us a different way? Because I'm a different filmmaker than before.
Also, we use different media, so it has different requirements. This part might not be interesting or particularly successful, but it has something that can be useful. And then, literally, because it's a visualization of his past – that's how we remember him in the film and the media. Now we're doing something else.
The background of his genuine life when he was younger… That we cannot see. I’ve never seen that. So, it’s hard to have communication in a lot of ways.
One of the most visually stunning scenes I've seen in this movie was that chase scene. Can you talk to me about the complexity of filming that?
Ang Lee: It's just the medium we’re shooting, and the place we're shooting, is difficult. It's not a movie town; we brought everything there. And it’s a historical site; I have to be very careful of the auto restriction. It’s a tourist town, so it’s physically very difficult.
And then another thing is, especially the motorcycle, we have a lot of clumsy new equipment that’s not accommodating to action. Even in the studio it’s pretty hard. You take that, whip it around, be mobile? That's very challenging. So, you shoot very, very slowly.
And another thing is I want to shoot everything. I have a team just to do coverage, so every shot is a big effort.
There's a definite debate in this film with nature versus nurture with both of the characters. Where do you fall into the moral conundrum of cloning?
Ang Lee: I think, in some ways, we're doing that always to improve our lives. And passing along your knowledge and reforming children, how it educates the whole society, is kind of a cloning environment anyway. But this is an extreme example.
I’m ambivalent. The person who's dying, we kill him at the end, so I sort of have an attitude towards it.
[It’s] not only “Respect nature,” but “fear nature.” What would nature do [to] us? I think that fear is part of respect and something we want to be aware of.
Congratulations on the film; it's stunning. Thank you so much.