A handful of movie sites (not Screen Rant) were invited to the set of Underworld: Awakening earlier this year, in order to see what the latest installment of the supernatural action/horror franchise would have to offer.
Among the many goodies that came out of the visit were updates on how this new chapter will tie to previous installments of the Underworld franchise, what new characters and twists are in store for fans, and what the possibilities for Underworld 5 will be after the credits roll on chapter 4. Of course, there are also the matters of the cast, crew and the cutting-edge 3D format to address as well - including word from franchise star Kate Beckinsale on why this sequel was actually worth returning for.
First up, producer Richard Wright - who has produced every chapter of the Underworld franchise thus far - talked about where this fourth film will pick up, and how the story came about:
Wright: Well, [Underworld creator Len Wiseman and star Kate Beckinsale] are married, as I’m sure you know, so we’re not always privy to what goes on in the Wiseman/Beckinsale household, but Len basically came up with the general idea, and we got the original script for the final idea last December of 2009. And while the basic story was good...the Kate Beckinsale character has been in cryogenic suspension for fifteen years, and that she wakes up in a future world where the existence of vampires and werewolves has been made known to the humans, there’s been a counterattack, there’s been a genocide, and a purge to try to remove all the vampires and the werewolves from the face of the Earth.
And there has been a company that has taken the forefront of testing people – because both vampires and werewolves can appear in almost human form – a company has evolved, or come to power, so to speak, because of their role in being able to test whether people are vampires or werewolves. That company has become pretty much all powerful: a biotech company that has amassed enormous political power, and they are the company that has been holding her for nearly fifteen years. There’s a prologue that explains all of what we’ve just gone through, for the first ten minutes of the movie, then there’s a cut to black, and now we’re fifteen years later. And for us in the movie, and for the character Selene, there’s been no missing time at all. She realizes…as she breaks out of the confinement that she’s been in, she gets back out into the world and as she goes through the world, and starts picking up clues, “Wait a minute, this is not the time that I thought it was, it’s fifteen years in the future," and this one location…the last thing that she remembers is at this one location, she goes back to that location and it’s completely different now. Then she starts to put together…that somehow she’s been confined, and for a reason, she’s not sure why. So a lot of the film is actually structured as a mystery. She’s trying to piece together what happened, who did this to her, and why.
For a quick tease about Selene's new time-displaced predicament, check out the Underworld: Awakening teaser trailer:
Addressing the question of how many new characters vs. returning characters would be featured in Awakening, Wright dropped some MILD SPOILERS:
[MILD SPOILER ALERT]
Wright: There are almost no old characters at all. I mean, there’s Kate and then there’s Michael...you know, the Scott Speedman character...his character plays a role in the film [though Wright added he's not actually "back" in this film], and then the idea is that he would come back in the fifth one....As a franchise evolves there are inevitably going to be new characters who come in, also we keep killing off our characters, so it’s hard to have them come back, although we have figured out how to do that on more than one occasion (laughter). But Michael Ealy, I would hope that we would see his character in subsequent films. There are other characters that you will recognize that you will see in this film that we would hope would carry forward.
Continuing along the some line of thinking, check out what Wright had to say about future installments of the franchise, starting with Underworld 5:
Wright: Once you’re doing #4, you can’t stop yourself from thinking there will be a #5. As of now #5 has not been greenlit, there’s no script, there’s no approved story. I think if we were to do it, we’d have a pretty good idea of who the characters will be, and what the basic timeline would be. I think it would take place after #4, but there would have to be a lot of different variables that would have to be worked out. Kate would have to agree to come back. She didn’t want to do the third one, so the fourth one was a return for her. I shouldn’t say she didn’t want to do the third one: she didn’t do the third one. So she would have to agree to do a fifth one. As with any actor, doing to the same role over and over again is not always the most attractive thing. Kate will have to sit with you…you’ll have to talk to her and get her own reaction about that. But it’s not the most immediate and attractive thing for an actor to play the same role multiple times. But this is still an iconic role, and I think that she inhabits the movie, and it’s impossible to imagine what this series of films would have been like without her.
But as Kate Beckinsale tells it, the impossible (as referred to by Wright) almost indeed occurred:
Beckinsale: I really wasn’t intending to do another one. I kind of always heard that it was a trilogy and that was that. I didn’t like the idea of rehashing the same whole thing too much. I think also have played the part twice. I’ve never played the same part even twice before. So I thought that doing it for the third time was like, “Where would you take it where it is worth doing?” Len [Wiseman] is a really great husband and has learned to just ignore his wife going, “No.” and just quietly write a script for a couple of years and then say, “Actually, I have had this pretty good idea.” The fact that it opened up the world a lot and had it come into the real world. The whole presence with a daughter was such a different take that I was sort of going, “Okay. That is interesting.” It is nice. It’s like our family business. How many actors get to have that? It’s like everybody is wearing rubber.
Regarding that "interesting" take on a new story which lured Beckinsale back to the role:
[MILD SPOILER ALERT]
Beckinsale: What is interesting during the movie is that the circumstances in which Selene has a child are such that she isn’t aware that she has been changed by it all for quite a long time. She isn’t even aware that it has happened. We go on that journey with her where someone who isn’t necessarily your most maternal type finding that she not only has a child, but it is a relatively quite a big child...I think different things are happening to her and she has learned to become very cold. I don’t think she is somebody that things don’t affect. Even in the first movie she is the one that is sort of getting obsessed about things. It may appear that way a bit, but she is quite the badass in this movie too.
For more on the story, 3D effects and dual-directing team helming the film, head over to any one of the sources listed below.
Underworld: Awakening will be in theaters on January 20, 2012.