Chappie has now been released in theaters and as promised, we’re bringing you a more in-depth look at the film from the NY press junket. But first, if you haven’t read our spoiler free interview here, go check it out! As for this article, there will be some minor spoilers below, but none of the major elements of the film will be revealed. What type of robot would Sigourney Weaver want in her house? Who would win in a fight between Chappie and TARS the robot from Interstellar? Read on to find out:
Writer/director Neill Blomkamp on how close the finished film is to what he’d envisioned:
“This film is probably the closest to the original idea all the way through the execution of it. Basically, I designed this kind of robot that Chappie was loosely based on in 2003. When we started working on this in 2013 or 2014, we modified that robot, so I had a pretty good idea of what he was going to look like.
So in terms of photography and design and the look of the movie in general, it was closer to what was in my head than the other two films [District 9, Elysium] and it was also, in terms of the computer graphics, I think worked out better than I expected. There’s always shots that you feel like are computer graphics and they’re never fully there. But the ratio of shots that appear to have been photographed, I feel is very high in this film. The visual effects just really worked out. The circumstances were correct.”
Hugh Jackman: “I had so much fun playing this. It was Neill’s idea actually, originally when we first talked about him. It’s sort of embarrassing to say, you think those sayings should be off the top of my head, but I kind of looked up – I Googled Australian slang and a lot of the ones that are in there came from Neill. Neill Googled it as well, I think, like the “frog in a sock,”
Neill Blomkamp: “Frog in a sock is an 11 out of 10.”
Hugh Jackman: “We just laughed so much because I’d never heard that saying before at all in my life.”
Neill Blomkamp: “Smart as a dunny rat.”
Hugh Jackman: “But we just had so much fun with the character. It was so much fun creating the character, obviously playing the villain in the piece, but it was just great, great fun. I haven’t worn those khaki shorts since high school, so that was kind of throw back. I wasn’t going to mention the mullet, but I’m very proud of the mullet. Watch out Halloween this year: The mullet’s back!”
Neill Blomkamp: “It’s also little things he does, like when goes into the bathroom and he starts looking at himself in the mirror. I don’t know if you saw, but over to his right side he’s basically just taken over the bathroom so it just says “Vincent’s stuff” and it’s got all of what he wants in the bathroom. Multiple pressed shirts and deodorants and stuff. Just his.”
The group on what kind of robot they would like in real life and what they would make it do:
Sharlto Copley: “I’d just like mine not to kill me. If it realized it was a superior being, I would be a little nervous. I don’t think it’s a case where you could like tell it to do the dishes. It’s a different kind of robot.”
Sigourney Weaver: “I’m sure you could program a robot to do all kinds of useful things. I think they’re trying to create a butler robot for people. Which would be useful. A cheerful robot for company. I actually think that [actor Dev Patel’s] robots, his little friends when he gets home [in the film], are so lovely. “Would you like a cup of tea? Oh, mess! Mess!” That’s the kind of robot that I would want. That’s my level: not very destructive and maybe not that capable.”
Hugh Jackman: “I have a nickname at home of “El Vague.” I’m very vague, I forget a lot of stuff. I would love a non-judgemental reminder all the time. No sense of: [sighs] ‘Are you kidding me? It’s in the…'”
Neil Blomkamp: “It doesn’t even need to be a robot then. It could just be a little personal device.”
Hugh Jackman: “Exactly. Remember you came back upstairs to get that phone. Why are you walking down without it?”
Writer/director Neill Blomkamp on whether Die Antwoord were playing themselves in the film:
“That is how it was conceived, [as if] it was a few years after their music career had died off. That’s why there’s always little things like Ninja is always wearing his own face on his t-shirt, because that was merch that they didn’t sell. So they have all of this unsold merchandise in the lair that they live in. So yeah, it was very particularly that their music career failed, they were out of cash, there was loan sharks after them and they just started getting into criminal behavior. It was that clear.
The thing that happened because of that choice is that it made me want to blur the lines between reality and fiction as much as I could, because I love the idea of people being themselves in films. That’s probably where the Australian thing with Hugh came from as well. Just let him use his real accent and his choice of clothing and hair.
But pushing that even further and tying that in with autonomous weapons concept was that there’s a company in South Africa called Denel, which is a state arms company – it’s like a mixture of Lockheed and Boeing and everything else. We tried for six months with L.A. and South African lawyers trying to figure out if we could actually have Denel in the movie as Denel, not Tetravaal.
That blurring of reality was actually very appealing to me, but there were almost moral issues that came up, like I had artists that refused to work on Chappie if it said Denel on the side of the thing. But anyway, it’s a blurring of fiction and reality that was appealing. I certainly did not want [Die Antwoord] in the movie and not be themselves.”
Hugh Jackman on whether Wolverine will join the Marvel Cinematic Universe now that Spider-man has joined:
“There’s so many forces at play there, man, beyond what anyone would want. The thing that I’ve always loved about comic book worlds, the fun thing was how a writer of a comic book could just pull all of these characters together and what became a Friday night discussion of ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be cool to see Batman fight Wolverine.’ Bang! Monday morning they’re working on it. But that’s an idealized world.”
Writer/director Neill Blomkamp on casting Dev Patel in the film:
“In terms of Dev, he’s one of those people who, when his name came up for that role, it was like a case where it couldn’t be anyone else. It’s kind of cool when that happens. It’s happened with these two as well [points to Hugh and Sigourney], but I haven’t really had that on a movie before, where you hear a name or see a name and it just sticks. Like it can’t not be that person. So with Dev, I didn’t write that with him in mind, but it’s like the second you hear it, it has to be him. I’m sure there’s some kind subconscious computation that just makes that work in my head.”
Hugh Jackman on artificial intelligence and its place in society:
“I’ve thought about it a little bit until this movie, where I thought about it a lot. One of the great things about working with Neill, one of the great many things, is that he’s thought so deeply about the philosophical part of this movie. Not only about robots becoming sentient or feeling or thinking – that’s sort of evolution – but also about the very nature of consciousness. What is it? Can we somehow capture it, bottle it? Can we use it? Honestly at a level that I am way behind, so during the filming I thought about it a lot.
Generally, I’m an optimist. I know at every major turning point in history – the creation of the train, for example – there were many, many people who thought this was the end of civilization, that this would be the road to doom for mankind.
I’m sure when the television came out, similar things. The internet. I’m a firm believer that the pull for human beings is towards the good generally out-weighing the bad. I don’t know why or why that is, it’s just maybe my naive optimistic view that whatever knowledge we gain, if it comes to pass that we can somehow understand what consciousness is – if we can somehow create that – that it will ultimately be used for good.
I’m sure along the way there’ll be bad and it will be exploited. But that’s my genuine view. Unlike my character, I like to think optimistically about these discoveries and advancements.”
Writer/director Neill Blomkamp on hip-hop’s influence on the film and returning to South Africa:
Neill Blomkamp: “I guess there’s two reasons for that. By far the primary reason is the band, Die Antwoord – I don’t know if band is the right word and I don’t know if rap group is the right word – but “them,” they were extremely important to me to be in the film. Pretty much from the time I came up it.
So as soon as you put them in the film you’re automatically including a whole… they themselves are naturally a mixture of several different forms of hip-hop and South African rap culture – influenced by US rap culture – so just putting them in is about 75% to 80% of what the audience will perceive as [hip-hop influence].
In a smaller amount, I didn’t actually want to shoot the movie in South Africa again, because of District 9. I wanted to put it in North America. We actually did a draft of the script that was in North America, just to test it. Die Antwoord was so essential to the film that putting them in North America, it felt like a fish out of water. It felt like the wrong move to do. So keeping it in South Africa, it allowed them to sort of be in their native environment. It felt legit. But I still wanted to Americanize the film as much as I could on purpose.
I wanted to go away from District 9 and just not delve into the very South African themes that you can get into easily in South Africa because it’s very rife with them. That was choices like putting [actor Jose Pablo Cantillo] in their gang, who was an American and not South African. With all choices like that, they just add up.
There are hundreds of times in the movie where normally we’d do ADR for random soldiers or random helicopter pilots, I actively made them be American voices and I knew that Americans wouldn’t notice and the entire South African audience would notice. I also knew that the entire South African audience [size-wise] noticing is like Philadelphia on Thursday night, so it doesn’t matter. So yeah, there are little hints of Americanism.”
Writer/director Neill Blomkamp on who would win in a fight between Chappie and TARS the robot from Interstellar:
Neill Blomkamp: “That’s a very interesting question. He uses this super unique morphology as well, I don’t know man, that TARS thing is up to no good I think.”
On who would win in a fight between Christian Bale’s Batman and Wolverine:
Hugh Jackman: “If it was a battle, we could try to stretch the movie out beyond a short. But I’m guessing it would be a short. [laughs]”
Sharlto Copley: “What if Chappie just comes in and kicks everybody’s ass? That robot from Interstellar, Wolverine, Batman, Superman – gives you a ride…”
Hugh Jackman: “Let’s not forget we have the ultimate ass-kicker here to my right.” [points to Sigourney]
Chappie is currently playing in theaters nationwide.