Director Johnny Martin spoke with Horrornews.net for an exclusive about his new film “Hangman” starring Al Pacino, Karl Urban, Brittany Snow, Joe Anderson and Sarah Shahi.
Johnny- Hi, where are you calling from?
Johnny- Is it getting cold there?
It is! It is freezing! I am a summer person. I like the heat!
Johnny- Well girl you’ve got to come to LA! It is warm.
I should be in LA!
Okay, So Johnny, Okay. I watched “Hangman” and Johnny I cannot even tell you how good this movie is. There are no words. And the ENDING! Oh My GOD, Johnny I almost fell off my sofa!
Johnny- (Laughter) I love you! Thank you so much!
I felt so bad for Ruiney and I was thinking and in denial of course that oh maybe the kid is going to give him a hug or something and NO he doesn’t and that happened and I was just freaking out!
Johnny- Oh, I love this call so much right now! Thank you so much.
And Al Pacino is just! He is amazing! We actually met Al Pacino leaving a restaurant in New York and me and my mom met him and this SUV pulls around the corner in New York and we are crossing the street and he stops and gets out with a security guy and he starts walking and he walks right towards my mom like he knew her and said hi and gave her a hug and a kiss. I was standing there in shock like “The Godfather” is hugging my mom!
I am rambling! The dynamics though between Al Pacino and Karl Urban are so good because it is almost like they are feeding off of each other. The emotions are beautiful.
Johnny- Oh you nailed it. You really just nailed it. This is what I want to try and get people to understand. I was so afraid because when I was pitched this movie they told me they had a script for me like “Seven” and when I read it I couldn’t see it and I didn’t know if I wanted to do it because I couldn’t see “Seven” and finally when I read deeper in to the script this movie is about more characters struggling with their own things in life and they got to come together to help each other move on from their pain. That is the kind of story I wanted to make it about a serial killer so much and the Hangman game because really there is not enough there.
I agree and it is more about the characters and even Brittany Snow. I felt so bad for Brittany, she has been traumatized in a few films and you really feel the fear and the nerves. Even with Karl Urban when he is walking through some of the scenes. You are on the edge of your seat.
Johnny- Oh my god, you so got this. I am hoping that that I can shock them into realizing this is a true movie. It is not about you just go in there watching people get slashed, killed and hung. It is more about who these characters are and the actors that we love come together and that’s what we did in the sit down and we all came up with our own story of who we each were and even me as a director and we worked off of that and every day we would just collaborate and improvise and go through lines and try to build the characters and even the smaller roles we wanted to build up stronger.
Because there are only seven roles in this whole movie really. Especially Brittany because she only took photos and really wasn’t a character at all. Brittany and I really came up with this character together and I think it is really strong.
Now what was it like directing everyone and when you got involved with this film what did you think?
Johnny- Well like I said I was nervous about it because it wasn’t the movie that everyone was pitching me but then when I met with Al I said you know what I’ve got to go for it and tell them how I truly feel and I know that he’s probably expecting me to want to say that this is just like “Seven” but when I finally told him what I see the movie as we just started going crazy with each other and going to other areas and the script was really re-written for over a month to get these characters ready and when I talked to Karl he said Johnny I read this movie differently and I didn’t even explain it to him yet but he got exactly what I wanted. And Brittany was like I just don’t want to be this girl that sits around! I just can’t do that. Boom! All four of us sat down and get together and we threw the script down and we talked to each other for about six hours of what this movie truly was and who these characters were and pain that they were fighting.
How do you think that the dynamic went so well between Al Pacino and Karl Urban? They were truly almost feeding off of one another.
Johnny- God I love that you said that. Yeah, you know what it was important because like on my last movie I pretty much threw away the script and I said guys know what we have to say in every scene pretty much. I said now let’s do it our way the way that you personally feel it and that is what we did on this movie. You know Karl… We would look at the lines and Karl would come out with what Ruiney felt like he would truly say and what Archer (Al Pacino) and we would takes sometimes that would be ten minutes of just continuing the story that we were trying to tell and a lot of these scenes that were in this movie are just scenes that were never in the script that we kind of just bounced off and we tried to create and the last scene at the mausoleum we did a twenty-two minute take and everyone was getting mad at me.
I said guys these moments are going to start coming out because the emotions are coming out and that’s what really happen. Al found this way. That whole scene was written just through improv almost.
The one thing about this film is has a real feeling to it and a gritty feeling. It felt different than “Seven” and the story is so good. I feel like Ruiney deals with a lot in the film. The scene with Ruiney and Archer was so emotional.
Johnny- Yeah you know what’s great. I love that you say that because the idea was to let’s show the audience who you truly are. You are this guy who holds in all his pain and takes it all in himself and doesn’t share it with anyone and he’s killing himself by doing that and that’s what he reverted back to in that scene.
I am so happy that you went into directing because I know you have done acting, producing and stunt work. Was it a big step for you to go into directing?
Johnny- It was always my main goal. I never wanted to be a stunt man. I did it for a reason. When I was seven years old I met a guy at a car wash named H.B. Halicki, he was the writer, director, stuntman in the movie “Gone in 60 Seconds”, the original movie. When I met him at seven years old because I used to hang out at car washes he told me all about his life and about how he was an actor, director, stuntman and producer. He sold movies, he did it all. I said well one day I want to be like you and he goes well you’ve got to learn everyone’s position and when I got into stunt work I found that was my best role to get into.
To sit behind famous directors like Tony Scott and be able to ride it out and follow a lead and learn as much as I could from them. That’s why I stayed so long in stunts because my whole goal always to become a filmmaker. It wasn’t to become a director or a producer.
I mean I produced over twenty movies but it was just so I could become good at all my jobs and know that when someone told me they couldn’t do anything I wouldn’t have to hear the word no because I would know their job as well as they did and I could say no we can do it this way. I could always get the film I wanted to make. Coming from the stunt world people don’t think that you’re a filmmaker and there’s a bunch of us coming out now that show that we are the ones involved in all the action. Hopefully that comes off on-screen now. All my hard training and Tony Scott took me under his wing and really taught me a lot before he died so I’m really a lucky man.
Tony Scott was so talented.
Johnny- That is why my colors in my films all have that similarity to what Tony used to do with his movies and colors in films. Hopefully someday I will have the budget where I can go crazy with my look and style.