‘Pacific Rim’ writer Travis Beacham: Hollywood needs original stories

July 11, 2013 | 10:27 p.m.
pacific rim 3 Pacific Rim writer Travis Beacham: Hollywood needs original stories

Charlie Hunnam, left, as Raleigh Becket and Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori in "Pacific Rim." (Warner Bros.)

pacific rim 5 Pacific Rim writer Travis Beacham: Hollywood needs original stories

The United States' Gipsy Danger in a scene from "Pacific Rim." Gipsy Danger is a Jaeger, one of the fighting robots invented by humans to defeat an alien kaiju onslaught. (Warner Bros.)

pacific rim 4 Pacific Rim writer Travis Beacham: Hollywood needs original stories

Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost, left, and Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh Becket in "Pacific Rim." (Warner Bros.)

pacific rim 10 Pacific Rim writer Travis Beacham: Hollywood needs original stories

Rob Kazinsky as Chuck Hansen, left, and Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost in "Pacific Rim." (Warner Bros.)

pacific rim 13 Pacific Rim writer Travis Beacham: Hollywood needs original stories

Max Martini as Herc Hansen, left, Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost, and Clifton Collins as Ops Tendo Choi in "Pacific Rim." (Warner Bros.)

pacific rim 16 Pacific Rim writer Travis Beacham: Hollywood needs original stories

Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori, left, Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost, and Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh Becket in "Pacific Rim." (Warner Bros.)

pacific rim 17 Pacific Rim writer Travis Beacham: Hollywood needs original stories

Robert Maillet as Lt. S. Kaidanovsky and Heather Doerksen as Lt. A. Kaidanovsky in "Pacific Rim." (Warner Bros.)

pacific rim 18 Pacific Rim writer Travis Beacham: Hollywood needs original stories

China's Jaeger Crimson Typhoon, left, and Russia's Jaeger Cherno Alpha in a scene from "Pacific Rim." (Warner Bros.)

pacific rim 25 Pacific Rim writer Travis Beacham: Hollywood needs original stories

Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh Becket, left, and Mana Ashida as young Mako in "Pacific Rim." (Warner Bros.)

pacific rim 31 Pacific Rim writer Travis Beacham: Hollywood needs original stories

The United States' Jaeger Gipsy Danger, left, and Australia's Jaeger Striker Eureka in a scene from "Pacific Rim." (Warner Bros.)

pacific rim 35 Pacific Rim writer Travis Beacham: Hollywood needs original stories

Rob Kazinsky as Chuck Hansen, left, and Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh Becket in "Pacific Rim." (Kerry Hayes / Warner Bros.)

pacific rim 37 Pacific Rim writer Travis Beacham: Hollywood needs original stories

Charlie Hunnam, left, as Raleigh Becket and Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori in "Pacific Rim." (Kerry Hayes / Warner Bros.)

pacific rim 40 Pacific Rim writer Travis Beacham: Hollywood needs original stories

Max Martini as Herc Hansen, left, and Rob Kazinsky as Chuck Hansen in "Pacific Rim." (Kerry Hayes / Warner Bros.)

pacific rim 41 Pacific Rim writer Travis Beacham: Hollywood needs original stories

Max Martini as Herc Hansen, left, and Rob Kazinsky as Chuck Hansen in "Pacific Rim." (Kerry Hayes / Warner Bros.)

pacific rim 47 Pacific Rim writer Travis Beacham: Hollywood needs original stories

Charlie Hunnam, left, as Raleigh Becket and Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori in "Pacific Rim." (Kerry Hayes / Warner Bros.)

pacific rim 48 Pacific Rim writer Travis Beacham: Hollywood needs original stories

Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori, left, and Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost in "Pacific Rim." (Kerry Hayes / Warner Bros.)

pacific rim 49 Pacific Rim writer Travis Beacham: Hollywood needs original stories

Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost, left, Max Martini as Herc Hansen, Clifton Collins Jr. as Ops Tendo Choi and Rob Kazinsky as Chuck Hansen in "Pacific Rim." (Kerry Hayes / Warner Bros.)

pacific rim 50 Pacific Rim writer Travis Beacham: Hollywood needs original stories

Charles Luu, Lance Luu and Mark Luu play the Wei Tang triplets in "Pacific Rim." (Kerry Hayes / Warner Bros.)

pacific rim 54 Pacific Rim writer Travis Beacham: Hollywood needs original stories

Ron Perlman as Hannibal Chau, left, and Charlie Day as Dr. Newton Geiszler in "Pacific Rim." (Kerry Hayes / Warner Bros.)

“Pacific Rim” didn’t even exist as a full screenplay when Guillermo del Toro signed on to produce the Jaegers-versus-kaiju epic from that opens in theaters Friday. But Travis Beacham’s outline for the story of a future world that is forever changed after massive monsters attack, forcing humanity to build equally hulking robots to fight back, struck the filmmaker as something he wanted to be a part of.

After his deal to direct his long-planned H.P. Lovecraft adaptation, “At the Mountains of Madness,” fell apart, Del Toro agreed not only to produce and co-write “Pacific Rim” with Beacham but also to direct the movie. In a recent interview with Hero Complex, Beacham described the Oscar-nominated writer-director as a “generous” creative partner — in addition to the film, their collaboration yielded a prequel graphic novel released this year — and went on to discuss the evolution of “Pacific Rim” and the need in Hollywood for more original stories in the genre.

HC: What was your initial inspiration for this world and this story?

TB: I think I’ve always really liked giant-monster movies and giant-robot movies. One of the earliest memories I have is seeing a “Godzilla” movie, and I know also that Ray Harryhausen was the first real filmmaker that I knew by name. If it involved giants on any level, as a kid I was really wrapped up in that.

I think as I got older and started thinking about movies and that sort of thing, I always vaguely wanted to see a modern American summer blockbuster with ILM-style effects explore that sort of subgenre. That in and of itself isn’t an idea — that’s just like, I want to see a space movie or a zombie movie or whatever. I think I didn’t really know that I had a movie at all until I realized that it took two pilots to drive the Jaeger. That was a conceit that let the story be about people in addition to these things. Suddenly, the relationships between the character were quite literally at the center of the battles and affected how the battles played out. If you didn’t get along with your co-pilot or you had whatever baggage between the two of you, that was going to play out in the battle. That was really appealing because it let the story be fundamentally about characters and these battles between these robots and monsters were just how those characters’ stories played out.

MORE: ‘Pacific Rim’ graphic novel: Travis Beacham on ‘formidable’ Del Toro

HC: Was there a script for the film when Guillermo originally came on to produce?

TB: There was, I think, an 18-page treatment. There was no script. The script was started under his sort of producorial supervision, but I think before “Mountains” had fallen by the wayside and before he decided that this was going to be something that he directed was when the script got started. Then by the time I finished it, “Mountains” had kind of fallen apart and he had really fallen in love with “Pacific Rim,” and so then he took a crack at it. There was some back and forth. It was a growing collaboration as he fell more and more in love with it, as his time opened up. It was more an evolution of involvement and an evolution of investment.

HC: How would you characterize Guillermo as a creative partner?

TB: Creatively, he’s a very generous person, and I think he comes by this enthusiasm so earnestly it’s hard not to identify with him on that level. I think a lot of directors, when they tackle this sort of thing, you get the sense that they put some effort into speaking the language. For Guillermo it comes so naturally. The references he makes, the conversations that you have about it creatively, it just flows so well and flows so seamlessly. It’s a lot of fun working with him. It’s hard to believe it’s something you’re getting paid for. You sort of feel like two kids playing with toys in a sandbox.

Guillermo del Toro works with actor Charlie Hunnam on the set of "Pacific Rim," a $180-million original science-fiction action adventure. (Kerry Hayes / Warner Bros.)

Guillermo del Toro works with actor Charlie Hunnam on the set of “Pacific Rim,” a $180-million original science-fiction action adventure. (Kerry Hayes / Warner Bros.)

HC: Did it surprise you that Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. gave you and Guillermo such creative latitude on a project that might be considered risky by some Hollywood standards?

TB: In retrospect, it really surprises me. When you’re in the moment and creating it, your belief in it is so pure and inherent, you can’t conceive of anyone not liking it. It’s basically like your kid; it’s the best thing in the world. But definitely in retrospect, seeing it come together and seeing the trailers and the movie and the how great it looks and the excitement swirling around it, it’s really surprising that [Legendary] took this step. I don’t think it’s something that happens very often.

I grew up in the ’80s and you had these original, big-budget sci-fi adventure things all the time, not based on any source material — you’d have “Gremlins,” “Back to the Future,” “E.T.” “Ghostbusters,” the list goes on and on. I would love it so much if “Pacific Rim” was but the first in a new wave of that sort of thing. I feel like as an industry, we’ve gotten too dependent on source material originated in other mediums. I’m as big of a fan of it as anyone else is. I’ll be there on the first day for the next “Star Wars.” But in addition to that sort of thing, it would be great if we had more content that was originated in the film industry itself.

The cover for "Pacific Rim: Tales from year Zero," created by Alex Ross, was revealed at WonderCon. The book serves a sa prequel to Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim." (Legendary)

The cover of “Pacific Rim: Tales From Year Zero” was created by Alex Ross. The book serves as a prequel to Guillermo del Toro’s movie “Pacific Rim.” (Legendary)

HC: The “Pacific Rim” prequel graphic novel has already been launched, but what’s next for you cinematically?

TB: We’re definitely talking and thinking about “Pacific Rim 2,” but I think that’s something that we’ve been talking and thinking about on some level since it first started. When you’re building a world before you’re necessarily building the movie and you’re finding the story that takes place in that world, you stumble across all kinds of other stories that also take place in that world. There’s a lot of possibility in the “Pacific Rim” universe for additional stories to be told, whether that’s additional graphic novels or animated series or video games or movie sequels. I would love to revisit the universe in some respect down the line.

HC: Has it been communicated to you what the movie might need to do at the box office for some of those ancillary ventures to take root?

TB: It hasn’t. But I think it’s sort of the thing that I guess that nobody really wants to bring up to the writer. [laughs] Knock on wood, I’m really confident in it. I think the people will see it will like it very much and hopefully talk about it very much. I couldn’t possibly love it more.

– Gina McIntyre | @LATherocomplex

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Comments


6 Responses to ‘Pacific Rim’ writer Travis Beacham: Hollywood needs original stories

  1. Foundstar says:

    Please….Iron Man meets Godzilla…next…

  2. lamama says:

    So the dude wants new & original movie ideas… yet he wants a Pacific Rim 2?

  3. Michael says:

    Really? So Beacham writes the script for a movie that looks like a plagarism of Neon Genesis Evangelion, one of the best-selling and most impactful animes of all time, and he still doesn't admit it at all?

    • Alex says:

      It's clear you didn't watch Evangelion. EVAs aren't robots, Kaiju are only concerned with wiping humanity off the face of the Earth, not reach an objective. Kaiju also don't share an relation with humanity like Angels do.

      Do your research first before you post inane comments, please

  4. Streakysky says:

    Oh please. Hollywood writers have plenty of original stories. The cowardly Studios just won't make them.

  5. ludoms says:

    I think Travis Beacham and Del Toro made a great job in this movie!

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