If you're concerned that Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is going to be yet another weak game-to-movie crossover, don't be. I had a chance to speak with director Mike Newell, as well as franchise creator Jordan Mechner, and star Jake Gyllenhaal over the weekend at this year's WonderCon, and there was one overarching concern for them all — story.
Although Jake is new to the action-adventure genre (this being first run in a film based on a video game), he and the Prince of Persia team wanted to make sure they heeded the lessons learned by previous game-movie crossovers by making their film believable, yet totally entertaining at the same time. Anyone remember Super Mario Bros.? Iconic as it may have been (it brought the über popular plumbing brothers to the big screen), no one can say that flick was based in reality whatsoever. However, Jake did compare Mario's mustache to the one he sported in Brokeback Mountain, so maybe there are some hidden similarities between them after all!
I sat down with Jake on Saturday to talk about his gaming habits, his thoughts on the 3D craze taking over the film industry today, and his transformation into a hunky action-adventure star. Find out what he had to say about this, as well as what made him want to dive into the world of Persia after the break.
On what drew him to Prince of Persia:
There are a lot of things. One was the character, 'cause for me, whenever I choose a movie it's the character. I thought — at least as it was written — [Prince Dasdan] was wry and funny and had a good time, but at the same time kicked some ass. But then I also like the idea that it was based on a video game. I like to do things that people have tried their hand at and haven't succeeded. Maybe it's a riskier thing to do, but I like that. And I knew that there would be a huge audience of people that I would be trying to appease and that kinda turned me on too. And we're bringing it to younger kids, kids who have never played the video game before and never experienced it.
On whether he's played the original Prince of Persia, and if he's a gamer: I have played it, but I'm not a gamer in general. I definitely have had my fun on the Wii. Being an actor you have a lot of time on your hands in between set-ups and things so there's always the opportunity on set. A portable gaming device is always fun. I played a lot of video games when I was a kid. I really loved Metroid when I was a kid. I played that game all the time. Zelda was super dope and it may have been one of my favorites only because the casing was gold. I'm not really sure actually if it was the journey of it or that the casing was gold but I loved that game, and traditional things like the classic Super Mario Bros. and Mike Tyson's Punchout.
How he feels about 3D in the film industry: Well, I think it's all about intention. Like Jim Cameron made Avatar, and his intention was to use 3D. Subsequently I think people have tried to join the bandwagon without understanding the creative side of what 3D is. Whenever you have a tool, I think someone should become proficient in that tool. I don't think you just add it to your arsenal and be like "I know how to do this." Regardless, Avatar wouldn't be as amazing as Avatar is — although it's extraordinary on a visual level — without a great story. And I think storytelling has lasted thousands of years as a result of the fact that twists, and turns, and unexpected things happen in stories that blow people's minds, and that's what lasts. We want to tell a great story — 2D, 3D, a great story is a great story.
On if he's caught the action genre bug, and if he liked doing his own stunts: I kinda am, yeah. I kinda am. I was [excited to do my own stunts], I mean that's the reason to do it. You're making a movie based on a video game, It's gonna be physical, and if you don't do it, how lame is that? I really had to ask myself, "Are you ready for this? Would you learn how to do Parkour, would you learn how to sword fight for real?" And I tried to be game for everything. I really tried to be. And I was. I did it even though sometimes I didn't succeed at it all the time, I tried each one of the things.
Check back tomorrow for my interviews with Prince of Persia director Mike Newell and creator Jordan Mechner, and see what they have to say about the future of the Prince of Persia franchise — including games and movies!