Exclusive: James O’Barr Talks THE CROW And Gives An Update On The New Movie
This past weekend stars from the worlds of TV, movies, and comics descended on Knoxville, Tennessee for this year’s Fanboy Expo. The three day convention had a fantastic turnout and gave fans an opportunity to meet with their favorite creators. Monday I brought you an interview with John Wesley Shipp about The Flash and his thoughts on the new series with Grant Gustin, but we’re ending the week with a chat I had with The Crow creator, writer, and artist James O’Barr. O’Barr‘s classic series became something of a cultural touchstone for a lot of teenagers and seems to discover a new audience every few years. It went on to become a very successful movie starring Brandon Lee, who tragically lost his life during production. The series has found a new home at IDW recently where O’Barr oversees the writers and artists of the various Crow miniseries. I talked with the writer about those series, his return to the world of The Crow next year, and even managed to get an update about the new movie (which O’Barr serves on as a creative consultant) starring Luke Evans from director Francisco Javier Gutierrez Diaz.
First off, how has your weekend been at Fanboy Expo?
Yeah, it’s been really good. Especially today.
How does it feel for you, as the creator of The Crow, to have it still resonate the way that it does all of these years later? It seems like there’s a certain point in a young person’s life where you get your copy of The Crow and it really hits you. A rite of passage kind of.
I’m still surprised it’s still in print 25 years later. I thought, since it’s about a really specific point in time, I was skeptical that it would age well. I guess the themes are pretty universal. Like you said, it gets rediscovered by a new generation of kids every 10 years or so.
Recently you’ve been working with IDW doing new Crow miniseries. You’ve done some and new writers and artists have come in and played in that world. How do you feel about what has been released so far, the response, and the quality of the work?
Well, I’ve been directly involved with all of them except for the very first one. It didn’t do very well, so they asked me to come on board and oversee the projects. I’ve been picking the writers and artist that I want to work with or I think are appropriate. Ever since the first one, I’ve been pretty happy with it.
Do you like seeing The Crow rejuvenated in a way by exploring different genres, characters, and settings? Do you find that exciting?
You know, it’s love, loss, and retribution. They’re kind of universal themes. So they can be set anytime and anywhere. I have no…I don’t want to keep repeating myself. I mean everything I do is still going to have that same flavor because that’s just me, you know? 35 years in Detroit so everything’s going to be dark, violent, and romantic just because that’s my personality traits. That’s the kind of people I’ve been picking to work with these series as well. Kind of like the overall editor on that.
Right now we have Pestilence which is getting ready to wrap up, but are there any others in the pipeline you can talk about right now?
Well I’m doing one by myself. One with a woman this time. That won’t be out until next year. I’m doing it all by myself and it’s maybe 260 pages long. It’s taking me a while. And I want to have it done before they solicit for it, because just like everyone else I hate when I have to wait six months for the last issue to come out. I want to make sure it’s done.
Is there anything you can say about the story for that one? Anything you can tease us with?
It’s actually a treatment I wrote for a Crow sequel that they declined. It’s about a woman that gets killed at her wedding. Miramax bought it even though they had no intention of making it. I thought I’d just resurrect that since I put so much work into it already.
Is there any update on the movie? We were hearing a lot about it last year and how Luke Evans is attached. Is there anything you can say?
The last I heard, a couple of weeks ago, they’re supposed to start filming at the end of next month [June].
What are you excited to see?
I’m working directly with the director in pretty much all aspects. It’s going to be a straight adaptation of the book. It’s not going to be a remake of the Brandon Lee film. I think that’s the most important thing people need to know. We’re not remaking the Brandon Lee film, we’re going right back to the source material. It’s the difference between the Bela Lugosi Dracula and the Francis Ford Coppola Dracula. Two completely different films even though they’re both based on the same source material.
Since you’re the creative consultant, you’ve seen things like Luke Evans’ make-up test and the like. What do you think he brings to the role now that it’s more of a direct adaptation?
He’s a really fine actor. Even without the make-up he’s got a sense of tragedy about him. In the make-up he looks phenomenal. I saw make-up tests with dozens of other actors and none of them looked like right for the part. In fact, I picked him and I didn’t even know who it was. I was just looking through the photographs. When they told me who it was, I thought “Yeah, I’ve seen him in other films.” Then he came over from England to talk to me because he wanted my blessing before he would accept the part. He just felt right for it. He’s been working for six months, growing his hair out. (At this point a very loud announcement was made and two sentences are drowned out) He’s doing whatever the role needs. If he needs to lose 40 pounds, if he needs to gain weight, that’s what he’ll do. Whatever he needs to do. He was telling me all of these films he was in, and I’m like “I saw that. I didn’t see you in that!” He’s just one of those actors. He’s like Tom Hardy where he just becomes the part and you don’t even realize it’s the same actor if you’re not overly familiar with his voice.
So you’re pretty happy with the way things are shaping up right now?
Yeah, yeah. The studio is giving them enough money to do it right. So far it hasn’t been a real struggle with them like it normally is. I think they kind of realize this is their last chance to get it right and maybe save the franchise as it were.
It’s nice to hear that the movie is moving along rather nicely right now. There was a time last year where we heard something new almost every day, but things have been quiet the last several months. With Luke Evans finally landing the role, after several other actors were rumored for the role or actually attached at one time, it sounds like O’Barr is really happy with that choice, the current script and director. The IDW Crow miniseries are well worth checking out if you’re not doing that already. The aforementioned Pestilence wraps up next week with O’Barr‘s movie treatment getting turned into a comic book sometime next year. We’ll be sure to bring you the latest on that and all The Crow news here on CBT. What do you think about O’Barr‘s comments?
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