About The Production
The genesis for Underworld began
during a conversation about werewolf movies between director Len Wiseman and his
friend Kevin Grevioux, who is a co-writer and plays the role of Raze in the
film. "If it's the new werewolf film of the millennium, I want to see
something different," says Wiseman.
Grevioux suggested creating a type of
Romeo/Juliet story and instead of Montagues and Capulets, it would be werewolves
and vampires. Further, his background in genetic engineering proved vital to the
filmmakers' new take on these age-old legends. "We wanted to use science
as a base rather than mysticism, so I created a virus which was the reason that
vampires and werewolves became what they had finally become."
Wiseman adds that they eschewed the
classic mystical associations of vampires with garlic and crosses. "I think
if you take it down to a genetic state then you can really explain things,"
he says. "If it's about a genetic anomaly that creates these species or
you're just dealing with a blood type that through the years has somehow been
able to develop these species, then you can find ways to kill it. You can
explore why silver affects this type of blood. Our vampires and werewolves are a
little more grounded."
The filmmakers next enlisted
screenwriter Danny McBride, who shares their love for the genre, to flesh out
their ideas. "Danny really facilitated the process and got our ideas
straight," says Grevioux.
From the outset, they were determined
to have a gritty female central character whose arc would involve internal
conflict. "To Danny and I it was refreshing to see a female in this role
rather than a male," says Wiseman.
The project came to Lakeshore and was
put together very quickly. As producer Gary Lucchesi points out, "Most of
the time it takes two to three years to put a movie together, and this movie we
put together in two to three months."
Wiseman's ability to articulate
exactly how he wanted to make this film impressed everyone at Lakeshore
Entertainment. As Lucchesi explains, "Len is a very eloquent guy. He comes
from the world of production design, which I found rather interesting. He had
apprenticed with Roland Emmerich and had worked at ILM. He was very committed to
the atmosphere of the movie and felt that in a movie like Underworld, atmosphere
was going to be a top priority in achieving what he wanted on screen. Producer
Richard Wright adds, "Len is a very focused and hardworking guy. He has a
bright new sensibility as a director."
With Lakeshore's history of working
with first time feature directors, the support network was already in place for Underworld.
As producer Tom Rosenberg points out, "One of the things we at Lakeshore
are most proud of is that we've given a number of first time feature directors
a chance. We had a very successful relationship with Mark Pellington (The
Mothman Prophecies) and have gone on to make three films with him; we have
also recently worked with Paul McGuigan on Obsessed, so Len was a perfect
fit." The next step was to find a cast that could give life to the
characters the filmmakers created.
Kate Beckinsale had carved out a name
in theatre and film but had not yet entered the genre. "Before Underworld,
Kate was not somebody that you would expect to see running around toting a gun,
wearing vampire teeth," says producer Wright.
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