happy tv series

Did you learn anything from your experience trying to adapt Jonah Hex that helped you adapt Happy!?

Not really. The Jonah Hex experience is like a novel in itself. A lot went into that. I know a lot of people don’t really realize this, but the final version of that movie has very little to do with anything that me and Mark did. Although we’re credited as the screenwriters, our original draft that got that project greenlit was massively rewritten, to the point where it’s almost unrecognizable. I have a lot of fans who’ve actually been very supportive and said, “Man, I know the movie didn’t work but I can tell from the script what you were trying to do.” That almost hurts more because I just want to tell them, “No, you can’t tell from the script what we were trying to do. That script was terrible but our script was really, really cool.” That falls in the category of things no one will ever see, on the ash heap of cinematic history. I wouldn’t say that I learned anything from that that we could take into this. Mostly in this it was the experience of being able to work with Grant Morrison from the get go. You actually have the genesis of the IP. You’ve got the genius behind the original idea and you’re able to really just get into his head. When you can sit around and actually jam around on ideas with a guy like Grant Morrison, that’s a totally different experience. We just had a lot of fun because what I found out really quickly is Grant and I are in many ways the same kind of crazy. It was just a really fun environment to be able to sit with him and spitball ideas. What if we did this? What if we did this? What if we did this? He’d come up with something I responded to and I’d come up with something he responded to. You could just tell right away this thing was going to be bananas.

What were some of Grant’s ideas for expanding the comic?

You’ll see as the season goes on, there’s a lot of stuff. It’s baroque, man. It’s broke and baroque. It’s complex. We needed to add more villains. We needed to add more layers. We’re also thinking ahead to future seasons. If people love the show and we’re so lucky as to keep going, we’ve got a greater, deeper mythology of the bad guys and the good guys in this show waiting in the wings that we’re only teasing little bits of right now. The little intimate world of Happy and Nick Sax established in the comic book, at the end of the day could end up being pretty vast and open up a lot of opportunities for satire and also just cool story.

Satire primarily of the grizzled detective genre or other targets too?

Not even so much the grizzled detective genre. Just when you look at it at its core, it’s two characters that are completely at odds in the way they look at the world. That’s inherent to the source material too I think. One of the main ideas is yeah, the world is just sh**, it’s garbage, it’s falling apart all around us. People are horrible and the evidence of that hits us in the face every day. You can just go on your computer and go, “Wow, I didn’t think things could get worse but it seems to be happening.” At the same time, there are amazing things in the world. If you look at it through a different lens, you see love and creativity and heroism, just all sorts of amazing things. It’s fun to have two characters, one that’s a complete nihilist and one that’s a complete dreamer and have them battle each other for who will infect the other one with their worldview. Will Nick end up turning Happy into a cynic or will Happy actually show Nick a way that he can be happy.

Can you preview any of the crazy baroque stuff that’s coming up on Happy!?

I kind of don’t want to spoil some of it. The bad guys are coming from places you’d never expect. Episode 7 is going to blow people’s mind. We packed a lot into every episode. The amount of story that we have, we could’ve easily built 13 episodes but rather than scale it down for 7 episodes, we just try to jam it all in. We figure more is more.

Is the shot of the camera attached to Meloni while he’s running a Crank shot?

That’s a bodycam thing. I don’t want to call it a Crank shot. It’s definitely something we would have done on those movies but the first time I saw that was on Mean Streets. Guys have been doing that gag for a long time. I will say that this particular rig was pretty lightweight. The camera was lightweight but the rig itself was a little cumbersome and awkward. Meloni is such a giant beast of a man, we put this thing on him and when he started running with it, the idea of those things is they’re very rigid so the subject is stationary with the world moving behind them. The way he was running with this thing, the whole rig just started to bounce up and down. It almost looked like it was going to fall apart and it just looked amazing on camera, I think. It’s the most violent version of a bodycam I’ve ever seen.

Could you reunite with Neveldine for Crank 3?

You never know. We talk all the time and we’re always teasing around ideas for stuff like that. You never know. There could be news soon but I have nothing to say on the subject right now. I just talked to Mark last night.

Is Mom and Dad still coming out in January?

Yeah, EOne is doing some kind of release in January. We’re hoping to have a theatrical release in Europe and Latin America. Here they’re doing a streaming release. As far as I know, the latest that I’ve heard, that release is on target for January.

Was that a concept where you explained it to Nicolas Cage and he got it immediately and ran with it?

Not really. I just sent Nic the script. He loved it but really the surface concept, the comedy/horror concept, the engine of that movie is obviously kind of insane. But the human story of that movie is something he really responded to. It’s a movie about the frustration of seeing all of your dreams and all of your sense of self evaporate once you become a parent. He could relate to that as I think a lot of parents can relate to that. It’s a little bit like midlife crisis turned into a horror movie. He responded to that aspect of it with a lot of passion and brought a lot of his own baggage into the movie to great effect. I think it’s one of his best performances.

Does it allow one of his outrageous performances we all love?

Of course. That’s the thing. It’s a werewolf movie in a way so he gets to play both sides. He starts out very mild mannered and then by the time it’s done, he’s off on planet Cage. Selma Blair is brilliant in the movie as well. I don’t think we’ve seen Selma this good in a long time. I really think people are going to be blown away by what she does.

Are you still attached to a Twisted Metal movie?

I wrote a Twisted Metal script that’s fantastic. I was talking about this a few months ago, revisiting this idea of Twisted Metal. The main thing with Twisted Metal is the game as a franchise just sort of stalled out. There was really nothing to draft off of. You want there to be a big release of a video game and then you could graft the movie off of it. At the end of the day, Twisted Metal always had sort of a cult following. It was never that massive, like Assassin’s Creed type of hit. It was that other game. The problem with that project at Sony, it became a little bit of a tweener. It felt like a movie that needed 50 or 60 million dollars to make and it didn’t really seem to have the fanbase to justify that. But the script itself was awesome. A lot of the set pieces in that movie were like beat for beat Mad Max: Fury Road set pieces. Maybe they wouldn’t have come out as good as Mad Max. I’m not saying that, but conceptually and visually, I remember seeing Fury Road and going, “Yup, that’s it. That’s exactly what we were trying to do with it.” Who knows? I love the script. If the climate changes or the tide changes over there and they want to make that movie, I would be so excited to do it. Twisted Metal was a script from six or seven years ago.

What are you doing next?

We’re going to see what happens with the show. The initial reaction to the show has been great so what I’m doing next could be season two of Happy!

So in success, that would go as quickly as you have to get started right now.

We would have to start right now. This is one thing that I’ve learned because this is my first foray into television. The schedule that comes at you in television, there’s no feature film that comes close. What we do on this show is the equivalent of making an indie action movie with an animated character every 15 days, and then just doing it one after another after another after another. It’s crazy. The way that these things come at you like trains is like nothing I’ve ever experienced in film. If there’s another season of this show coming up, let’s start now. Especially because this show is ambitious. This is not just people in a room talking. Every episode is filled with so much. The animation alone is so complex and takes so long. So a lot goes into these episodes and it’s pretty all consuming. I ended up directing five out of the seven [after the pilot]. I’m basically, along with Patrick Mcmanus, show running it. I’m rewriting every episode. The amount that comes at you, it’s all consuming and there’s just not really room for anything else in your life when you’re working on one of these shows.

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