Warren Ellis Talks To Me About Red, Con And Marvel Anime

The hugely successful action comedy Red was, as well we know, derived from a comic book by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner. In order to promote the film’s release on DVD and Blu-ray, Warren Ellis was engaged to speak to the press. Rather oddly (I say this as Ellis is actually a column writer for the site) this press included Bleeding Cool.

I’m not complaining. No, I was very grateful to get to speak to him. He was certainly very interesting.

So, here are Five Things that Mr. Ellis told me during our conversation.

1. What’s so appealing about old people being violent?

Old people being violent is interesting because they’ve been doing it a long time and are therefore very good at it. Age, cynicism and sneakiness will always triumph over youth, optimism and beauty.

2. The adaptation from short comic to longer film

The book is 66 pages long. If you film the book, it’d take about half hour of film – that’s if you threw in a musical number. They had to make a lot of changes in order to just expand the thing up in order to make it into a film. You know, they buy the rights to adapt it and make what they think the best possible film based upon the material will be. So they changed the tone. I don’t have an opinion beyond “They bought the right to do that. If I didn’t want them to do that, I shouldn’t have sold them the option, should I?”

I’ve got to be honest, but [my opinion on the differences] boils down to “Couldn’t give a shit.” I mean, it was a short book that I wrote fucking years ago and I’m not especially precious about it. They did change the tone, and I think a darker tone might have been more interesting in places but that’s just my opinion and it’s worth no more than the next man’s opinion.

It’s based on my book, they we’re all very kind, it’s a fun film – which to me was the most important thing. Not that it be absolutely sticking like glue to every element of the book, the most important thing to me was that they made an entertaining film out of it. I was on the set, I was kept in the loop, I got to go to the premiere.

It’s not like I’ve had to do a lot of promotion, and it’s not like anything is stopping me from lying to people. These are all entirely First World problems.

3. The previously announced Red sequel

Summit are a cautious company, and this being Hollywood, there are a number of hurdles to clear before we get anywhere near shooting a film. I think I’m set to have a conversation with Jon and Erich at some point, but at this point, they’ll just be going off on their own. I would certainly encourage them to.

4. Warren’s experiences at Con

I did the PR thing [for Red] in San Diego. That was interesting, to say the least. I got to see the other side of the San Diego convention, the VIP side. I didn’t actually set foot on the convention floor at all. I don’t think I set foot on pavement much. Turns out there’s just this constant stream of limos orbiting the convention centre and hotels.

I think we spent most of our time in a secure suite in one of the hotels, with a massively extended balcony patio overlooking San Diego from about thirteen floors up. Comics creators don’t usually get the limo, armed guard, secret entrance, secure elevator treatment.

I can’t take to the floor at conventions. I didn’t go to any for years and then I went to Heroes Con in the states, and what happened there is what has happened to me since – I’ll stop to talk to someone, see a friend at a booth, and people will sort of accrete around me until the front of the booth is blocked off and my friend can’t actually do any business. So I can’t actually go on convention floors any more.

It was a year or two ago I was at San Diego. Sony had flown me over for the Marvel Anime thing. We had to walk across the road to the convention. The PR guy stuck a pair of shades on saying “Don’t worry, with these on, nobody is going to try and make eye contact with you, no one is going to try and talk to you.” These shades had been on my face for 15 seconds when somebody walked up and said “Hello Warren.”

5. Marvel Anime

I’ve got no idea what Marvel Anime has even been announced. I finished a very long time ago and haven’t been in contact with the production since.

The anime stuff wasn’t even writing for the screen. I was just writing rough outlines which would then be completely rewritten by a Japanese scripter. I doubt anything I wrote would make it into the finished product in any case. I watched… no, I haven’t seen any of them. I haven’t been sent any DVDs.

Red is available now on UK DVD and Blu-ray. I agree with Warren’s comment that this is a fun movie. I’ve now seen it three times, and actually enjoyed it more on each go round.

The US DVD, movie-only Blu-ray and Special Edition Blu-ray have already been released.

Warren Ellis writes the Do Anything column for Bleeding Cool. This is his year.