‘Real Steel’ director looks at film’s ‘Twilight Zone’ origins

Oct. 09, 2011 | 5:34 a.m.
realsteelboxing Real Steel director looks at films Twilight Zone origins

Two boxing 'bots in a scene from "Real Steel." (DreamWorks)

“Real Steel,” the Hugh Jackman-starring robot-boxing movie out in theaters this weekend, owes a lot to its first incarnation — as a sci-fi short story by Richard Matheson that the author helped adapt into a  1963 “Twilight Zone” episode, the film’s director said.

Shawn Levy and Evangeline Lilly talked about the origins of the film during Monday’s early IMAX screening, hosted by Hero Complex’s Geoff Boucher.

“It’s been in development for eight, nine years, and frankly, in that period, ‘Transformers’ got made, so that made a certain tonality kind of off limits because it had been done,” Levy said.

Hear more about “Real Steel’s” back story in the video above, and be sure to check out the previous installments of the interview talking about Jackman’s generosity as an actor, the decision to film with actual remote-controlled robots, the casting of young Dakota Goyo and Lilly’s take on the heart of the story.

— Noelene Clark


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4 Responses to ‘Real Steel’ director looks at film’s ‘Twilight Zone’ origins

  1. Alan Dean Foster says:

    Nice to see Richard's work at least acknowledged. So did he get any credit or (gasp!) money?

  2. Nancy says:

    Richard Matheson was mentioned in the credits of the movie.

  3. arlen schumer says:

    Re: the new "Real Steel" and its Twilight Zone origins (from my "Five Themes of the Twilight Zone" essay at http://www.arlenschumer.com/twilight-zone/the-fiv

    Happy endings were not usually Twilight Zone’ s forte, especially in the works of Serling’s other writers. Like Richard Matheson’s “Steel, ” in which newly-minted movie star Lee Marvin (‘62’s The Man Who Shot Liber ty Va lance ) is the titular manager of a robotic prizefighter (the year is 1974; boxing by humans had been abolished in ’68) who must pose as one because of technical difficulties with his mechanical charge. Steel, a former prizefighter, fights against both his robot’s obsolescence and his own, thinking he still has the right stuff to beat “The Maynard Flash,” his android opponent—man versus machine in Matheson’s métier. Against the vehement advice of his partner trainer, Steel steps into the ring, ghastly and garish in makeup meant to make Marvin’s already grim visage even more mechanical looking—but to no avail, as he is promptly beaten bloody in a bout staged wonderfully well, particularly the almost-humanlike movements of the robot, terrifying in its relentless, Terminator-like onslaught. If there were ever to be prizefighting robots who resembled humans, they'd definitely look much like the way longtime Twilight Zone makeup man William Tuttle conceived them, poker faces of synthetic flesh with eyes as dead and black as a shark’s, riding that perfect line between fantasy and reality that The Twilight Zone, of course, traveled best.

    • Fitzgerald Fortune says:

      Did you have to mention The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance? You must think people are too stupid to know who Lee Marvin is.

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