Joel Silver recently spoke with “The Temple News” about his upcoming role as producer for “The Reaping,” starring Hilary Swank and Idris Elba. With 72 movies under his belt and another 10 to be released over the next three years, Silver has been busy reinventing ways to bring action and thriller films to the big screen.
Originally from New Jersey, Silver attended Lafayette College and New York University Film School. In 1990 he was honored as Producer of the Year at the Showest Convention, and in 1995 won the Life Career Award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. His best known works include “Lethal Weapon,” “Die Hard,” “Conspiracy Theory,” “The Matrix” and “V for Vendetta.”
The Temple News: You have an impressive and groundbreaking track record. What is the secret to your success?
JS: I’m just a lucky guy. That’s it, really. Look, I love movies, I love action pictures, but I’ve had movies that haven’t worked so well, either. I love what I do, I care about the audience. I remember when I was a kid what I liked, and I hope to make movies that kids now like. I’m trying to work hard and do a good job.
TTN: This decade has been the richest for the horror genre- why do you think people are latching onto it?
JS: Great horror flicks of the 1950s, I loved those movies. I saw two of them in the theatre. I thought it’d be fun to make these movies again, and now, every weekend there’s a new one. Comedy can make you laugh, some movies can make you sad, but a good horror film can raise your heart rate, change your breathing pattern and really affect your physical state- that’s what we try, to affect, and if we do our jobs then people will feel that way.
TTN: You’re currently working on “Speed Racer.” What about it attracted your eye and the eyes of the Wachowski Brothers?
JS: I’ve never done many films for a general audience— mostly ours are R-rated, and I’ve never made a film that can humor everyone. They [the Wachowski Brothers] wanted to do that and it was a combination of a passion for anime, making a movie for a wider audience, and technology nobody had seen before in the way they make this. It’s a different looking film than we’ve ever seen before. This is going to blow people away- we approached it with the story first, it’s a great story with great characters, and it’s a wild ride.
TTN: What element do you think could make or break an action film?
JS: People need to be excited and have a good time at the theater. I’m always trying to find something different. That’s my suggestion— you just have to make it different.
TTN: I heard you created the sport of ultimate Frisbee? Tell me a little about that?
JS: I didn’t create it, but I was there when it evolved, and I gave it the name. I went to Mt. Hermon, which is a prep school in Massachusetts, and I went there for a summer and brought the game back in 1968 to my high school in Maplewood, NJ. And we crafted it and put rules to it. One day I was sitting, playing in a parking lot, and my friend said ‘What do you think about this, this game is going to be played all over the world!’ I was like yeah, right.
TTN: I heard that you collect houses made by Franklin Lloyd Wright?
JS: You know, I’ve always had an interest in architecture and I always said when I was young that if I ever had a job that made a lot of money I’d get one of his houses. So I did a movie called “48 Hours” that did pretty well, and I renovated a house in Los Angeles. Then in 1986 I acquired a house in South Carolina. But it’s an expensive hobby. So see my movie so I can continue my passion for architecture!
TTN: How do you choose which new actors to work with?
JS: You know, I meet people all the time. I just met this 20-year-old kid who’s doing “Speed Racer.” There are a lot of people I want to work with. I’m good friends with Tom Hanks, I’d like to work with him. There are also people worked with in the past who I’d like to work with again. So, you know, I’ll keep making movies for as long as people go to see them.
Jess Cohen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.