Notorious and always controversial film-maker Uwe Boll talks about his Wall Street bailout revenge movie ASSAULT ON WALL STREET (2013) which stars Dominic Purcell (Fox's Prison Break).
TV STORE ONLINE: I've read in previous interviews that you've agreed to do in reference to ASSAULT ON WALL STREET (2013) that, for you, it was important that the film's audience be scared when Dominic Purcell goes into the buildings in New York City and begins to open fire on various Wall Street types...
TV STORE ONLINE: And yet, audiences, who have seen the film seem to have the opposite response to it. They don't fear this guy going into a building and opening fire on human beings, but, in fact, are rooting for him as an anti-hero...What does that say about American culture and our propensity to glorify violence?
BOLL: I mean...I think those are two different things. I think, in the film, that we wish Dominic's character the best. We want him to survive and we want him to find happiness, and in the end, what he did--it wasn't possible. He had lost too many things in his life, and there was no way that he could make his way back. So, we're happy that he, at least, gets his revenge. That's the emotion arc, at least from the audience point-of-view. I want the audience to understand that injustices exist. And if no one cares about these injustices, then how do they become resolved? People, take them into their own hands...
TV STORE ONLINE: In hindsight, could there have been any way that Dominic's character could've gained redemption without resorting to violent means?
BOLL: Only if his attorney had truly helped him. If his attorney would have helped him then he would have justice, and in turn, he might have began to think about the possibilities of justice in the American legal system, resulting in believing that justice actually exists. But, this wasn't what I wanted in the film. Life isn't always good to people. Sometimes society makes them fail. So I thought that it was important to make the film a revenge-fantasy. I wanted him to punish the people who ruined his life, and in effect, ruin society.
TV STORE ONLINE: Why are vigilante or revenge films so popular with film audiences?
BOLL: I think because it's associated with something that you can't do in reality. You have two-options. 1.) You swallow a"bitter-pill" and move on. 2.) You let go of whatever is bothering you. People kill people today, it seems to me, over nothing. I mean, if you watch television today and watch a show like NBC's Dateline--people murder others for the pettiest of reasons. There is something in our culture today that promotes violence as a reaction. I mean, I've had those same feelings. My first court case in Los Angeles, some years back; I was in Los Angeles suing a producer who was trying to claim the rights to one of my films. When I walked into the courtroom and saw him sitting, all I could think about for the first few minutes I was there was how I had wanted to go over to him and punch him in the face. Now I know that if I were to do that, I would be arrested and likely go to jail. So, I think that for some people in society, there is no understanding of that. I think people in society have a difficult time restraining their emotions for some unknown reason.
TV STORE ONLINE: How long did it take you to script ASSAULT ON WALL STREET?
BOLL: It was the most problematic script for me to write. I first start writing the film back in 2009. It was just a basic revenge story. At a point I stopped writing and went off to do a bunch of research about the Wall Street bailout and the financial crisis. I met with a professor who had written an 800-page book about the mathematical errors in Wall Street bailout. Once I was done writing, I sent him the script. He said, "It's basically true, but you've simplified it though." I said, "I can't have 10-12 minute scenes in the movie with just two people talking to each other about the math behind the bailout." So I had to simplify it, and I think that I was right in my approach, as we haven't had one person come back at us claiming that we've misrepresented or skewed any of the math aspects of the financial crisis or the Wall Street bailout.
TV STORE ONLINE: I recall reading someplace in relationship to the film that Dominic Purcell wasn't your first choice for the lead role for ASSAULT ON WALL STREET?
BOLL: Originally, Jesse Metcalfe [ABC's Desperate Housewives] was attached to play the part. We were about 10-days out from starting the shooting of the film in New York City, and all-of-sudden I got a call from Jessie's agent saying that he didn't want to do the film because of how many people his character kills in the script. He wanted me to change the script for him, and in the end I just wasn't willing to do that. So he walked away from the film. I also had sent out the script to Richard Gere and Viggo Mortensen. I actually heard back from Richard Gere's agent on it. Basically, I was told: "Richard loves the script, but he's just finished shooting ARBITRAGE (2013) and he can't be in two movies that have similar messages this close together." They are totally different movies when it comes down to it, but he was concerned about the subject matter.
TV STORE ONLINE: You wanted Richard Gere for the role of the Wall Street Broker that John Hurd plays in the film?
BOLL: No, I wanted him for play lead role. The part that Dominic Purcell plays in the film.
TV STORE ONLINE: Really? Wow....
BOLL: He would've been wrong for the lead, but I thought about him because I knew I could get him for a million dollars for the role. And I think he's a great actor too. I also tried to get Gerard Butler, but he declined. Actually, he tried to get me cast a friend of his in the Dominic Purcell part. He told me that if I gave the lead role to his buddy, then he would play the John Hurd role for free for me. I mean, Gerard Butler is a great actor, but he can't be the CEO of a bank....(laughing) There are no young CEOs in the bank system.
TV STORE ONLINE: One of the best parts of your script for ASSAULT ON WALL STREET is the ironic notion that Dominic Purcell's character is a Wall Street security guard.
BOLL: I know. (laughing) I thought that he needed to have a kind of military / security background in order for it to believable. I don't think an intellectual could have concocted the plan that Dominic's character develops to take his revenge.
TV STORE ONLINE: Were films like DEATH WISH (1974) or TAXI DRIVER (1976) an influence on you while you were writing the script for ASSAULT ON WALL STREET?
Boll: Completely. And I remember when DEATH WISH first came out and how much was made of how unsafe the streets or subways were in New York City in the mid/late '70s and '80s in the media. Plus, I think that Dominic's character was a guy who would be a fan of both of those movies in his own life.