SDCC: 'Warcraft' Director On Bringing Orcs, Shifting Allegiances To Life

Standing under a life-sized model of Orgrim, one of the key Orcs in Legendary's upcoming film "Warcraft," director Duncan Jones offered CBR News and other journalists a few thoughts on the project. Orgrim, along with a model of King Llane at the nearby Weta booth, were unveiled at Comic-Con International in San Diego as part of the company's convention kick-off.

Long in development, "Warcraft" takes viewers to Azeroth, the video game's fabled world. Taking its cue from the earliest real-time strategy editions of the game, the film will center on mankind's first encounter with Orcs. "I have been playing the game for twenty years, and 'Lost Vikings' before that," Jones said. "So I'm familiar with the 'Warcraft' universe." Though the massive multiplayer online "World of Warcraft" has expanded the universe "exponentially" from those original games, he pitched an idea that took the story back to that first contact. "It gave us some stipulations as to what the film would be."

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He worked "hand-in-glove" with Blizzard on developing the story from that initial pitch, as members of his own team -- from VFX supervisor Bill Westenhofer to Orgrim actor Robert Kazinsky, a world-ranked WoW player -- were always on hand to remind him of specific details in the world. And as making the film left him with no time to play the game over the last several years, he called on memories of his own experiences to inform the script as it developed.

The film will work as a one-off unit in its own right, according to Jones, though "if we have the opportunity to make three movies, we know where'd we go in two and three."

Asked if the film will retain WoW's shifting point of view, in which the player's chosen faction becomes the hero, Jones said Orcish representation will be there "one hundred percent." He also said preserving that aspect of the game was one of Blizzard's greatest challenges in developing a film version. "It was difficult for them to find a way to make the film in the first place, because the [outside filmmakers] working on it before did not see it that way. As a player, I've always seen it that, whichever side you chose, your character's the hero," he explained. "We have to do a war story where you have the opportunity to empathize with both sides. It tells a story of a conflict in which there is not way of escaping it. We follow heroes on both sides."

Though he would not reveal his true loyalties, he did say, "I'm always in love with the Orcs."

Finding that way into the story was a relief for Blizzard, he said. "It made the process that much smoother." Even though the company sought a workable approach for a long time, Jones gave them the direction they "never knew they always wanted."

From his first film, "Moon," Jones' work has escalated in scope, a choice he said was conscious. "It was a challenge I wanted to take from one actor [in 'Moon'], to a couple of actors [in 'Source Code'], to a big group of actors in this one. You find you have to work in different ways." In "Moon," it was easy to keep the camera on Sam Rockwell, the only person on screen, but in "Warcraft's" ensemble, "you have to give every actor their moment. You want to make them feel loved and important. It's a different dynamic."

"Warcraft" opens June 10, 2016.

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