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Spike Lee Talks 'Oldboy' Remake, Changing the Original & Comic Book Movies

20 Years of Oldboy

One thing that was very interesting for me in the film - particularly this version - is Josh's character sitting in this room and watching these key events of American history over twenty years, and I was wondering about the metaphor between what's happening to this character and what's happening in those twenty years and maybe if you could speak a little bit about that?

Spike Lee: We weren't really looking for any metamorphic stuff, all we're trying to do is help the movie-going audience understand that time is passing by, so we have to pick seminal moments where people know exactly what year that was. The Twin Towers?

2001.

Spike Lee: Yeah, Katrina?

2005.

Spike Lee: Clinton's first inauguration?

1992 [Ed: Whoops, that's 1993!]

Spike Lee: Bush's speech mission accomplished?

2003.

Spike Lee: Obama's first election?

2008.

Spike Lee: But anyway, yeah you get the idea. They can just look at the screen and say "I know what year that was," so we really weren't trying to be metaphorical. We have 20 years that have to go by, using this TV, how do we let the audience know that time is passing by? That's all that was.

I think that women are going to like the fact that this movie actually also says that if you disrespect women there are consequences, that's an empowering aspect.

Spike Lee: You're going to write that?

How much of that (female empowerment) did you [intend]? Because that's more in your movie than in the original film. 

Spike Lee: Well what you say is true, but also makes for a better film if the character is as strong as possible and not weak. Plus with the exception of the character played by Pom [Klementieff] [Marie is] basically the lead in the film, so we had to have that, and also it plays to Josh's character to play up against a character that isn't a pushover.

Umbrella Girl in 'Oldboy' (2013)

But it's his disrespect of a woman that begins the movie, that actually sets a tone.

Spike Lee: Yeah, no it's true. You got the tone and when you're in prison for 20 years you have a lot of time on your hands, so [Joe] has a lot of time to think about "What have I done? What choice have I made that I ended up in this spot for 20 years?" and in 20 years of self-analysis he discovered that he was not a nice person. That he was not a nice human being.

You're going to have problems with your wife, but with children you're gonna want to have a great relationship with your children. What's the divorce rate today? 50%? It's even higher than when he got locked up, but his one regret is "I have a daughter and so that's one of his things coming out I have to reconnect."

Is it more about redemption or revenge for [Joe]? 

Spike Lee: Both, the same coin but two sides and he's passionate about both.

 WARNING - SPOILERS about the Ending of Oldboy Follow (The US and Korean Versions)

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Josh Brolin as Joe Doucett in 'Oldboy'

Your ending is different than the original: [Joe] locks himself back up?

Spike Lee: You've seen the original?

Yes.

Spike Lee: So what's the question?

 Why is it different?

Spike Lee: Now this is something you're going to have to ask [screenwriter] Mark [Protosevich] but I agree with the decision; the whole thing with the self hypnosis at the end [shakes his head "no"]. We just chose to go a different route. 

Can you please confirm that Sam [Jackson] chooses his hairstyles?

Spike Lee: I was the one that suggested the [Yellow] Mohawk - because you cast Sam in a film, the first thing he thinks about is how his hair is going to be - so I said, "Sam have you ever, ever, ever had a Mohawk in a film?" He said no so I said we should do it with this one. He said ok. 

Top 10 Samuel L Jackson Hairstyles

Screenwriter Mark Protosevich had mentioned there are films that you shouldn't remake.... I was wondering if you agreed with that sentiment and if there are any films that are sacred to you that you wouldn't remake?

Spike Lee: All I could say is there are a ton of people that felt this film shouldn't have been remade too.

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How about YOU? Do you think Spike Lee should've remade Oldboy? Let us know in the comments.

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Oldboy is now in theaters. Stay tuned for more of our interviews with the cast.

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