Sometimes during an interview you throw a question at the interviewee, and they come out with a long, meandering answer that has a couple of worthwhile bits of information buried within it. Sometimes they answer the question directly, sometimes they try to move away from it, and you have to push them back on track – or find that they'll refuse to answer.
Interviewing Jerry Bruckheimer was a somewhat different experience. After nearly 40 years of practice, he's become very good at cutting out the bullshit.
I found our interview a little bit like being plugged into an incredibly articulate soundbite machine, one that was always completely in control of the interview. It didn't really matter what I asked him, he always answered the question he wanted to answer, and I didn't notice until days later when I came to transcribe it.
Recently Bruckheimer was in London to promote The Lone Ranger and that's where I caught up with him. Already on the back foot from the movie's soft opening stateside, I had expected him to be difficult. Surprisingly, he really wasn't. But he was in control.
Here are the highlights of what he told me.
ON THIS FILM'S DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
The guys [screenwriters Ted Elliot and Terry Rossia] will work on their own, come back to us, pitch us ideas, then they'll write sequences. Usually they do an outline first, we'll make comments on the outline, then they'll go off and write the story. We had Justin Haythe, who came in also and did quite a bit of work.
ON THE MOST ENJOYABLE PART OF FILMMAKING
I think the filming's a lot of fun, I think the development of the story's a lot of fun.
But I hate going on recces, location scouts. That, to me, is just riding around in a bus for hours and hours, getting out for an hour and standing outside. It's just not for me, so now I let other people to do it and I look at pictures. But beyond that I love the process. The editing process is a lot of fun, the sound process as well.
ON HIS LEVEL OF INVOLVEMENT
I'm there, I'm certainly very involved in every aspect of the finished product, but you'll never see me on the recce.
ON THE RISING COST OF TENTPOLE MOVIES
You have a car, right? Years ago that car cost a lot less than it cost today. Everything keeps going up, movies, cars, everything. There's inflation everywhere, so unfortunately it hits movies too.
You start with a writer and a director, one or two people, and you keep adding people on and it keeps multiplying. It's no different from going to the grocery store and picking up some eggs, you want some milk, and at the end you get a bill. We have to estimate what that bill is before we go out and spend it.
ARE R-RATED BLOCKBUSTERS EFFECTIVELY NO MORE?
I don't think so. I don't know what Django [Unchained] was, it might have been R-rated, but I could be wrong, it could have been PG-13; but there have been some pretty big R-rated movies. We made one years ago called Beverly Hills Cop that at one time was the highest-grossing R-rated movie ever, but I think was usurped by something else, but you still can do it, and do it successfully.
FUTURE INVOLVEMENT WITH DISNEY
Fortunately if Disney doesn't want to make something we get to take it outside. We're doing a project now with Sony and Screen Gems, called Beware the Night with Eric Bana and Edgar Ramirez that's filming in New York as we speak, so we do get the opportunity to make pictures elsewhere.
Thanks again to Bruckheimer for taking the time to talk with me. The Lone Ranger is in UK cinemas as of tomorrow, Friday August 9th.