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About The Production
Red, the graphic novel written by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Cully Hamner and published by DC Comics Wildstorm imprint, was originally written as a complete work but was released as three chapters over three months. Later, it was released in its entirety in book form. Although the graphic novel is just 66 pages long, Gregory Noveck, Senior Vice President of Creative Affairs at DC Comics, knew immediately after reading it that it was a perfect vehicle for a film adaptation. "I loved the book instantly,” says Noveck. "Warren and Cully are two of the brightest lights in the comic book universe and together they created a very slick, very cool action thriller with an awesome central character and an intriguing central theme. We had a mandate at DC Comics not to just adapt our superhero characters but to take advantage of the other amazing titles in our library. ‘Red' was one of those titles that I had targeted very early on after joining the company.

"Obviously Warren's story had to be expanded in order to make a two-hour movie,” Noveck says. "But all along the way we aimed to retain the best element of the book – a complex, conflicted hero – and to stay true to Warren's central theme…the idea of how our society readily discards people, in this case old guard CIA operatives and Cold War spies, once they've reached a certain age and replaces them with a new wave of younger, more tech-savvy agents.”

Noveck then acted on that DC mandate, brought on Jon and Erich Hoeber, and took the adaptation idea to di Bonaventura Pictures' executive Mark Vahradian, who in turn, showed it to producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura.

"Lorenzo and I were immediately impressed with the edgy quality, the attitude and the stylization of the graphic novel,” says Vahradian. "We loved the espionage context and both of us were fascinated with the idea of what happens to these old spies when new administrations come in and clean house. We had also been looking for projects that could attract some of the great, older actors that might never be given the opportunity to work on a ‘comic book movie' so it seemed like a very natural fit for the company.”

di Bonaventura concurs: "Warren and Cully created a very provocative piece of work that stands alone in its genre as a graphic novel but we saw the potential in their work for a movie that could combine action, espionage, romance and comedy and could deliver a subtle message about ageism to the audience no matter what the age of the demographic. And it was of paramount importance to us that we stay true to the essence of what they created – especially with the character of Frank Moses – so that both of them could feel vested in our endeavor. And I think we've done that quite well.”

"It was my first time working with the Hoebers,” di Bonaventura says. "It was amazing to watch these two brothers work together because they both bring slightly different sensibilities to their work. Each of them has certain things that they care about more than the other and, in this case, the sibling dichotomy worked out very well. And they were the only two writers on the film from start to finish.”

After just one meeting with Summit Entertainment executives Erik Feig and Geoff Shaevitz and just one draft of the screenplay later, Summit greenlit the project. "The Hoeber's first draft was remarkable,” says producer di Bonaventura. "We all read it and all had the same first reaction…now THIS is a movie. We asked Summit what they thought and they agreed so we all started to try to put it together. I think we all knew we were in for a great ride.”

"When it came to writing a script, it was all about elaborating on what was in the graphic novel,” says producer Vahradian. "Jon and Erich took the ball and ran with it…they broadened the scope and the tone of the graphic novel by creating new characters and cross-country locales but remained faithful to the Moses character and the thematic elements of the original story. Jon and Erich gave us everything we asked for and we've ended up with a great example of a crossgenre film with mass appeal potential.”

"Because the graphic novel is so short, we knew we were going to have to use it just as a jumping off point for a longer-format story,” says Jon Hoeber. "That jumping off point began with the Moses character. He's one of the most dangerous men in the world and has killed many people over the years but he also has this incredible innocence about him. Here is a guy who has spent his whole life undercover avoiding personal connections with other people. So when we meet him, newly retired, he's discovering for the first time what it might be like to live a normal life. We see him trying to find simple pleasure in everyday activities like ‘decorating' his house at Christmastime. When he telephones Sarah, he doesn't even know what to say at first…he's terrified of exposing himself. He's a trained assassin and suddenly he's acting like a pimply-faced high school boy trying to find the guts to call a girl for a first date. You can't help but fall in love with him a little.”

"We then came up with the idea that if Frank Moses is an older agent who is now retired and then targeted,” says Erich Hoeber, "then there must be other retired agents out there. That notion led us to create the other characters in the film and gave us the freedom to elaborate on all those other lives besides Frank's.”

"And even though the stakes in the film are very real,” adds Jon, "we deliberately made the characters a little larger than life. We wanted to capture a little bit of that old-school ‘Butch and Sundance' feel…whether it's the pairing up of Frank and Marvin, Frank and Joe, Frank and Victoria and even Frank and his civilian sidekick Sarah…there's always the feeling that from those pairings comes a great deal of conflict and comedy. But it is all-organic because it starts with the character of Frank and the situation in which he now finds himself…retired yet still extremely dangerous.”

"Lorenzo, Mark, Gregory and David [Ready, the film's co-producer] were all deeply involved in the development of the screenplay,” says Erich. "They were true creative partners. They understood that the story we were writing relied a lot more on great character dynamics rather than just a high concept.”

"And Warren and Cully were extremely generous in letting us expand their original story,” adds Jon. "Fortunately, they ended up really liking the script and have publicly been very supportive of us and the film.”

"I think Jon and Erich, Robert [Schwentke] and the producers all did an amazing job collaborating and adapting ‘Red' for the big screen,” says illustrator/artist Cully Hamner, who visited the New Orleans set for a few days shortly before the film wrapped in mid-April, 2010. "The movie is a lot funnier and a little less bloody but it is not without the same artistic aspirations which Warren and I had when creating the original.”

"I knew going in as they bought the option and the book went into development as a film that it would be massively expanded,” says Ellis, who also dropped by the set for a few days in Toronto, "so there was no sense on my side of having to be precious about it. I never had worries of faceless, marauding Hollywood monsters killing off my darlings. In fact, any shock I may have felt actually turned into surprise, as Jon and Erich's script was so truly dedicated to the central themes of the book. Everything that mattered to me about the book is there in the script and in the film. So, it's a gre


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