If I wanted to, I could have given a misleading title to this article. I could have called it "Jon Favreau Storms Off Iron Man 2 Set". Or maybe even, "Favreau Vs. Lucas, Battle of The Flannel Shirts"... okay, maybe that one is a stretch. The fact of the matter is, this weekend Jon Favreau will be taking a break from filming the highly anticipated sequel to IRON MAN, the aptly titled IRON MAN 2. So why bring a big budget movie to a screeching halt? Jon explains:
"It is hard to drop everything when you're on a film this big," said Favreau. "But the Art Institute asked me to fly to Chicago for George. Nothing short of the death of a close relative would stop me from boarding that plane."
George? Are we just using first names now Jon? Are you gonna go "kick it" with him? Not exactly. This Saturday, Favreau will be interviewing George Lucas at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago. As well as presenting him with the Gene Siskel Film Center Visionary Award for Innovation in Film Making. Or as I like to refer to it as, The G.S.F.C.V.A.I.F.M. Or S.H.I.E.L.D for short.
Though the two have no immediate connection, there is obviously a mutual admiration. Lucas handpicked Favreau to interview him. As to why, Lucas explains:
"Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound have had the good fortune of working with Jon [on the 'Iron Man' films]. I know firsthand that he is the type of filmmaker that crews here love to work with, because he always gives them the opportunity to break new ground."
As for Favreau, he admits that his youth was defined by Lucas. Being now 42, he was the perfect age to catch the "Star Wars" bug. Favreau reminisced about why he loved Lucas' approach to his films,
"What I always loved is he lived through a period when films were nihilistic. The '70s could be subversive, and I love those films, but he brought a sincere storytelling to what may seem like throwaway popcorn movies, and that hit the bull's-eye for me."
Oh, how we all miss the Lucas of that era. I truly wish the same could be said for Lucas today. When Jon was asked if he thinks he has a signature in his own films, he said:
"I'm a tone guy. My films are completely different, but hopefully if you know the same guy was involved, it's that playful tone. I rarely want you to be aware of the camera. The camera is not the character for me that it is for the Coen brothers or a David Fincher. I am not that kind of director. I like flexibility."
Dude, Jon! You're so money and you don't even know it. His films look pretty amazing to me. Whatever he's doing, it works. I feel it's his ability to keep focus on the growth of the character throughout the story, that makes him a great director. That may sound like a given in all story-telling. But a lot of directors easily lose sight of that.
When Favreau says"flexible", that might be an understatement. Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr have both stated, that they were often rewriting the IRON MAN script mid-scene, on the set of the first movie. Favreau goes on to say:
"That comes out of improv too. Flexibility is demanded. There is a certain recklessness you hope for, without losing sight of what you're doing. It's like when you hear a great guitar solo -- there's always a moment when the guitarist doesn't seem to know where he is going. But if you listen for that moment, and if you can capture it, that becomes what's exhilarating about the film.
That's pretty deep. You're blowing my mind man! It's refreshing to hear that in a world of story-boards and pre-vis, even a big action movie can have spontaneous moments.
"See, the kind of films I make can be confining -- explosions happen when they happen, things take years. On 'Iron Man,' the studio expectations revolved around the action, and when it comes to big set pieces, it's definitely film by committee. But stuff in between -- characters, comedy, even casting -- you have tremendous freedom, because the studio is not as interested. And that's where I focus. With the first film, the thought was that the star would be the Iron Man suit anyway -- so it was very fulfilling when you start to realize that this suit is going to be upstaged by Robert Downey. And then that ends up defining the franchise."
So true. It's no wonder Jon fought so hard for Robert Downey to be cast. I can't imagine anyone else as Tony Stark. As cool as the action in Iron Man was, it's what Robert Downey and Favreau brought to that character, that made the film great.
From what I've seen and read, I'm more amped than ever for IRON MAN 2. How do you feel about it?
For the full interview from The Chicago Tribune, click here.