As it might be a bit daunting sorting through all the press surrounding “Sin City,” there is definitely one gem that’s worth listening to. Earlier today on Southern California’s KCRW, film critic Elvis Mitchell hosted a half hour discussion with Frank Miller on “The Treatment.” The duo talk mostly about “Sin City,” but do touch on some of his other comics work as well as process. Some highlights:
When describing the noir hero, Miller said, “The noir hero is a knight in blood caked armor. He’s dirty and he does his best to deny the fact that he’s a hero the whole time.” He went on to talk about how he feels that writers at large don’t quite understand the meaning of hero anymore. “My feeling is that the hero has now been defined by phrases like the odious one that we were all raised with – crimes does not pay. Of course it pays, you schmuck That’s not why we don’t do it. We don’t do it because it is wrong.”
In the interview Mitchell pointed out one of the great things about the film is watching the walks of Bruce Willis and Mickey Rourke, who play Hartigan and Marv respectively. He noted how much both characters move in a way he had imagined those characters to move as he saw them on the printed page.
“There’s an elegance to the way Bruce moves and Mickey’s a tour de force on the screen,” Miller said to Mitchell. “Mickey showed me Marv’s walk, because Marv does a lot of walking and thinking. He said it was a walk he learned in Ireland, presumably from terrorists. It was a threatening walk, being an overdone one with arms swinging wildly, whereas Bruce is controlled. He crawls inside your head and he does it in his own smooth way.”
Miller mentioned how persistent his co-director Robert Rodriguez was in getting the film made. Miller turned down Rodriguez the first time, but when Rodriguez invited Miller down to his Austin, Texas studios to film a test, Miller couldn’t refuse. It was during that process that Miller knew he had found the right guy and how working with the green screen reminded him of working on the stage.
Miller also mentioned that well before Rodriguez had come along he had spoken with director Sam Raimi about bringing “Sin City” to the big screen. He had written a script that only included one of his “Sin City” stories and ultimately felt it was missing something. It wasn’t until Rodriguez came along and suggested Miller wrap three stories in to the film that it started to gel for the writer.
Miller found working with the actors a fascinating experience based on how curious they were about the characters. He mentioned that having conversations with Jessica Alba taught him some things about the character of Nancy that made her a more interesting character for him.
And on being a first time director, Miller admitted he was rather nervous on the set at first. There was one day during filming with Mickey Rourke where Miller thought the actor was getting the body language wrong for a specific scene and went over to Rodriguez and began explaining to him what Rourke should be doing in the role. Rodriguez’ response? “Why are you telling me?” Rodriguez urged Miller to talk to Rourke directly and it was at that point that Miller began to feel like a director on the film.
Of course the above doesn’t fully capture the full half-hour interview, so we encourage you to warm up that Real Audio player of yours and listen at KCRW’s Web site. For more on the film, don’t miss our review of “Sin City” or our chat with the stars of the film.