Last week, we brought you the news that famed "Willow" and "Frost/Nixon" director Ron Howard had picked up the rights to bring the soon-to-be-published Image Comics series "The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft" to the big screen. As we mentioned in our post about the "Lovecraft" movie news, Howard seemed an odd choice to helm an adaptation of the dark, fictionalized tale of the acclaimed horror novelist -- so we reached out to "Lovecraft" writer/creator Mac Carter (who's also writing the screenplay for the film) and cover artist/producer Adam Byrne to get the scoop on the project.
During the interview, we discuss whether film plans predated the comic book series, the actor who helped shape the look of Lovecraft in the story, and what to expect when a generally family-friendly filmmaker like Howard tackles the indescribable horror of one of the genre's darkest minds. Image Comics has also provided an exclusive 5-page preview of "The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft" for Splash Page readers.
MTV: What's the appeal of the author as a story character? What aspects of H.P. Lovecraft -- the man and his work -- will we see in the series and film?
MC: Well, in my mind, it’s no coincidence that the book landed with Universal. When we set out to create the comic we talked a lot about their classic monsters. We felt there was a model at work in their pantheon that we could follow -- that of the tragic, misunderstood monster: Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, even the Gill Man. Some of the details of Lovecraft’s sad and complex biography started to suggest a similar character. All we needed was the horror. Well, Lovecraft’s writings provide that in spades.
But let me just say, we have one more hope -- that with “The Strange Adventures of HP Lovecraft” we create a curiosity for the man’s idiosyncratic writings, and that a notoriously un-filmable author, not unlike Philip K. Dick with “Blade Runner,” suddenly becomes viable. Because, after all, who doesn’t want to see more of this guy’s mind-blowing stories on the big screen?
AB: Well, the reaction on the internet has been pretty interesting, even though the book hasn't been released yet. The most important thing to keep in mind is, H.P. Lovecraft is very much the awkward, reclusive writer he's commonly portrayed as in his biographies and by no means a Hollywood hunk. This is not a gunslinging book for gunslinging sake. It's the story of a man placed in a very burdensome, nearly tragic set of circumstances who resorts to any means to resolve them.
MTV: Was the comic created with a film in mind?
MC: Yes and no. After graduating from USC’s film school, I began directing commercials at Anonymous Content. Well, very few commercial filmmakers don’t want to also work in features. So with a friend, I had the idea to develop a film property for myself by creating a comic. In addition, Adam and Tony would jump-start their own comic book careers. And if a movie never happened -- and there was no guarantee of that, tackling as notoriously difficult a subject to put on film as Lovecraft -- I would happily go along for the comic book ride. We did a lot of brainstorming, hit on an idea we felt was really compelling, and after several permutations, “The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft” was born.
Click on the image above for an exclusive preview of "The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft."
MTV: Ron Howard isn't typically viewed as a horror director -- why is he right for this project?
MC: Not typically viewed as a horror director, you say? There’s a lot of talkback on blogs about this. Thanks for the opportunity to address it.
Not that the guy needs my endorsement, but perhaps there’s a more generous way of framing Mr. Howard’s talent with respect to horror: to my mind, he is our generation’s Howard Hawks. What about “Rio Bravo” and “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” assured anyone that Hawks would create a classic in “The Thing from Another World?” And yet, there it is -- a horror masterpiece.
Put simply, Ron Howard is a storyteller. He’s versatile, working effortlessly and fluently across genres, from balls-to-the-wall action-thriller to historical sit-down drama, always instilling the work with creativity, passion and humanity. Why would his horror film be any different?
AB: First of all, Ron Howard is a great dramatic director. He cares about making the audience connect with the characters. “Frost/Nixon,” “Cinderella Man,” etc, are great indications that Ron can nail a time and a place and ground you in a character's universe. That's key for introducing Lovecraft's biography. If you don't care about him as a person, you're not likely to care about the horror unfolding around him.
MTV: In an ideal scenario, who's your pick to play H.P. Lovecraft in the film?
AB: In creating the character’s look for the comic, Tony Salmons and I talked a lot about a cross between the photographs that exist of the real man and the actor Adrien Brody. When Mac and I watched his acceptance speech at the Academy Awards, the one where he dips Halle Berry, we looked at each other like, that is our H.P. Lovecraft. Obviously, that's not our call now that it's getting adapted for film, but it was fun to imagine Adrien while we were making the book.
MTV: Mac, what are you doing differently in the film script to translate the comic book story into the new medium?
MC: This is not a strict representation of Lovecraft, but here's one example of how I've tried to do some of that: I've been mining collections of Lovecraft's letters in an effort to bring an authenticity to the dialogue of the character. Lovecraft's horror is inimitable and so is his voice. The cadence, the phrasing, just the raw words alone, all inform our understanding of the guy. It's important to me that "Howard" talks like Howard. For example, in describing himself, we get the witty and self-effacing man, "[My father] left one good-for-nothing descendant to close the family history of these colonies... H.P. Lovecraft of Angell Street Grange and Tenbarnes Manor, author of those numerous works so conspicuously unmention'd in the annals of fame." And, I want to give the eventual actor some of that rich language to work with, because I think it's going to help him put the most engrossing Lovecraft he can up on the screen.
On the other hand, how about the poor actor that's called on to deliver this gem: "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn?"
MTV: How much input will you have on the film?
MC: Imagine and Universal have been keen to involve me and I’m very appreciative of that. They seem genuinely interested in my input given my obvious jones for the material and understanding of the character. I’m currently working on the first draft of the screenplay, and to date the process has been extremely collaborative. I trust it will continue that way through to the end credits rolling down the screen.
Be sure to check out our exclusive preview of "The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft," courtesy of Image Comics. You can find out more about the series at www.lovecraftcomic.com
What do you think of Mac carter and Adam Byrne's plans for the series and the subsequent film? Think Ron Howard can bring the world of H.P. Lovecraft to life on the big screen? Who would YOU choose to play Lovecraft? Sound off in the comment section!