Actor Karl Urban says that filmmaker Alex Garland "actually directed" his cult comic book movie Dredd, in addition to serving as the adaptation's screenwriter. Urban, who also boasts roles in the Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, and Thor movie franchises to his name, revealed this information while making the press rounds promoting his crime/thriller Bent (which opens in theaters on Friday).
Dredd is the second big screen take on the Judge Dredd comics after the Sylvester Stallone-headlined Judge Dredd (which was released in 1995). Whereas Stallone's Judge Dredd was a critical and commercial disappointment, Dredd won the favor of critics when it opened in theaters in 2012. Unfortunately, that didn't do much to help the film break out at the box office, resulting in a $41 million worldwide take against a budget in the range of $30-50 million. The film has nevertheless developed a devoted cult following since then and is partly responsible for the upcoming live-action TV series, Judge Dredd: Mega-City One, securing a green light.
Garland's star has similarly been on the rise since he wrote Dredd. He has since written and directed the Oscar-winning sci-fi drama/thriller Ex Machina, as well as last month's critically acclaimed sci-fi horror/thriller novel adaptation Annihilation. Urban had nothing but praise for Garland while speaking to JoBlo about Bent and his upcoming projects - which is where he credited Garland for being Dredd's real director:
A huge part of the success of DREDD is in fact due to Alex Garland and what a lot of people don’t realize is that Alex Garland actually directed that movie.
Although Pete Travis is credited as sole director on Dredd, he was reported as having stepped away from the project after production was done back in 2011, leaving it to Garland to oversee post-production on his own. Garland and Travis later released a joint statement, assuring that the film was still "a collaboration between a number of dedicated creative parties" and that Garland wasn't seeking a co-directing credit. Based on Urban's comments, Garland was ultimately as essential to the movie's development (if not more so) than Travis - which is why Urban still dreams of Garland directing Dredd 2 on his own one day:
Right? That would rock my world. I just hope when people think of Alex Garland’s filmography that DREDD is the first film that he made before Ex Machina. You think about it in those terms; it goes DREDD, EX MACHINA, ANNIHILATION.
Dredd certainly bears a striking resemblance to Ex Machina and Annihilation, especially during the sequences where characters get high on the futuristic, reality-altering drug known as SLO-MO (which does pretty much exactly what its name implies). That further suggests that Urban has a valid point about Dredd being Garland's true directorial debut, in combination with the rumors that he oversaw the movie's editing on his own. Dredd 2 seems pretty unlikely to happen at this stage, but crazier things have happened - and if the sequel ever does land a green light, then Garland should absolutely be brought back as its (official) director.
We will keep you posted on all Dredd-related news as it comes our way.