Yvonne Villarreal caught up with Edward James Olmos and wrote up this Hero Complex report on the seemingly snakebitten (or is it bee-stung?) production of “The Green Hornet.“… — G.B.
It’s been easy to get dizzy while watching the shaky flight path of “The Green Hornet” film project.
The movie was planned as a serious mystery-man action film but then became a comedy. Stephen Chow came in as both a co-star and director, but now he is off the project completely. A few weeks ago, word spread that Nicolas Cage was in negotiations to play the movie villain, but he says that in the end, he didn’t find what he wanted in the role.
The movie, with Michel Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind“) in the director’s chair, is now filming in Southern California (and even dropped by the Los Angeles Times offices for a scene the other day). One of the stars, Olmos, said the project is humming along nicely despite all the turbulence and that, personally, it’s a treat to work on a film with big sets and distinctive imagery.
“I’ll put it to you this way — it’s quite a fun journey,” Olmos said. “It’s my first time doing this kind of a movie. ‘Blade Runner’ is the only thing that comes close to this. I’m having a lot of fun. People are really going to like what we’ve done. …”
That key role in 1982’s “Blade Runner” as the engimatic cop Gaff would have been enough to earn Olmos career cred with fanboys, but of course he added his true signature role years later in the reboot of “Battlestar Galactica.” He’s not done with the trials and tribulations of William Adama (more on that below), but at the moment his focus is on Michael Axford, a reporter at the Daily Sentinel, in Columbia Pictures’ revival of “The Green Hornet,” due in theaters in December 2010.
The film stars the now-svelte Seth Rogen as Britt Reid, the playboy newspaper publisher who moonlights as the masked crime fighter. Rogen co-wrote the script with Evan Goldberg (“Superbad“). The action hero comedy is based on the character created by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker for a radio program in the 1930s that went on to spawn movie serials in the early 1940s and a short-lived but memorable 1960s television series that helped introduce Bruce Lee to America.
Olmos’ character works alongside James Reid, publisher of the Sentinel and father of Britt.
“We’re the backbone of the paper,” he said. “Things go awry, and I end up having to try to sustain what’s going on in our lives. And of course the Green Hornet doesn’t make it any easier. I don’t want to give anything away.“
Olmos recalled watching the 1960s live-action show, which featured martial-arts icon Lee as the Hornet’s sidekick Kato.
“It was really kind of campy,” Olmos said. “I liked it. The Green Hornet was a very different kind of a hero — this character who becomes kind of a bad guy in order to get the bad guy. It was fun to watch that dynamic.”
Chow is out as the new Kato, and Taiwanese actor Jay Chou is now in. And “Inglourious Basterds” antagonist Christoph Waltz — not Cage — will portray Chudnofsky, the Green Hornet’s nemesis.
“It took a while, but things are finally coming together,” said Olmos, who revealed he has one major stunt in which he gets zapped. “I think it’s going to be very exciting. People will find that it’s different than what they expect. Seth is doing a wonderful job. There’s a lot of everything. It’s going to be action-filled, and there’s a lot of humor in the situations. It’s really a well-crafted piece of work. Hopefully people will enjoy it and we’ll have a few of these films.”
But how about that other franchise? Olmos has directed and stars in “The Plan,” a spinoff TV movie of the sci-fi phenomenon “Battlestar Galactica.” The plot focuses on the Cylon machinations that led to doomsday for the human colonies. It will air this fall.
“It will make the fans want to see the entire series all over again.” Olmos said. “The movie is such a complement to everything they understood. It answers a lot of their questions … and poses more questions.”
And he wouldn’t be opposed to continuing the story beyond that.
“If there’s a huge response, I think more movies will definitely result. The fans aren’t done with the story. As long as they want more, we have to find a way to give it to them.”
And what about that proposed feature film that would be more beholden to the 1970s “Battlestar”? Bryan Singer is signed to direct and produce, and original show creator Glen A. Larson is on board as producer, and Olmos has nothing but words of polite support.
“I just hope they have a wonderful time and they make a great movie,” he said. “It’s a great franchise, and Larson has the right to do anything he wants with it. I’m very, very curious to see how it will turn out.”
So say we all. …
— Yvonne Villarreal
Photo (top): Edward James Olmos. Credit: Gus Ruelas / Associated Press
Photo (bottom): “The Green Hornet” / Los Angeles Times archive
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