Even unapologetic fans of Arnold Schwarzenegger's over-the-top "Conan" films will probably admit that by the time Hall of Fame center Wilt Chamberlain popped up in the 1984's "Conan the Destroyer," the franchise had veered from campily charming to just plain silly. But the upcoming adaption of "Conan," starring Jason Momoa and Stephen Lang, is set to return the title character to his roots as the roguish warrior of Robert E. Howard's original stories.
"I think we're right in the spirit of Howard," Lang recently told MTV News during a phone call from Sofia, Bulgaria, where he's been staying during the shoot. "It's got the same kind of lurid quality. The purple prose of Robert E. Howard is really being translated to the screen."
"One of the things about his prose that's so distinct is that it takes itself very seriously," he explained. "There's nothing tongue-in-cheek about it at all. And there's nothing send-up about the world we're creating, though hopefully the movie is made with a lot of wit."
That's exactly the way Lang wants it. He says that their "Conan," in which Momoa takes over Schwarzenegger's role, will have less in common with the Governator's movies than with swashbuckling classics from the '50s and '60s. "I've never been a huge fan of the 'Conan' films," he explained. "To me, in spirit, the movie we're making is lot more like 'Jason and the Argonauts' or 'The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.' It's this huge adventure, these otherworldly things, these rip-snortners."
The "Conan" shoot is expected to run though May, and by the end Lang might well have some serious bruises to show for his work as Khalar Singh, a villain whom the actor calls simply "a motherf---er."
In fact, Lang says that the role is far more physically demanding than his turn as nefarious Colonel Quaritch in "Avatar."
"It's all sword-fighting and horse work and wire work," he said, adding that facing off against Momoa is no easy task. "He's a big dude. It's hard for me to out-muscle him. He's 28 years younger than me and 30 pounds heavier than me. I have to do it with my wolf-like brain. I have to use all my old man strength. I've encountered him twice. I've beaten the s--t out of him a couple of times."
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