Prince of Persia: Interview with Director Mike Newell

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Mike Newell is the director of "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time," starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Arterton. The film, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, is being released by Disney on May 28.

Newell says of the story, “I love the idea of it being a living myth that you are watching. This is a story that’s absolutely real and extraordinary—a non-rational, non-physical universe as we now understand it. These things happen in this film.”

 

“The more exquisite, the more dark, the more agonized, the more true to our fallible human natures a film can be—that’s a good Brit picture,” says Newell. “But lately, I’ve been really interested in great, big entertainment—‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time’ is exactly that—great, big entertainment—and I’m very pleased to have it.”

 

On Jake Gyllenhaal as an Action Hero

 

Newell says, “Jake has a man-of-the-people quality. He’s curious, open, gentle, very tough, and has great comic abilities, and in ‘Prince of Persia,’ he uses all of that. I saw pretty much everything he had made and thought him a marvelous actor, with terrific charisma. But what I didn’t know about Jake was that he would be an absolutely God-given action hero. He can fight, hold a sword, run, clamber, jump and ride a horse as if he were glued to the back of it. And that I didn’t expect. It’s no small thing.”

 

On his female lead Gemma Arterton

 

“What I loved about her is that—and long may she retain the quality—

Gemma has none of those layers of artifice, defense and arrogance that build up in

a young actor who quickly becomes successful,” says the director.

 

Video game vs. Big screen

 

In the video game, the prince can run up walls and has other skills which are based on parkour,” explains director Mike Newell. “Parkour started in the suburbs of Paris,

where the kids were so bored that they started to use what was available to them as some kind of test. I watched documentaries about them and saw that they really do walk up walls and leap from rooftop to rooftop. They are extraordinary athletes. So we brought some of the great world experts of parkour to teach us what to do and how to make it look good.”

 

The Always Important Production Design

 

Newell says of production designer Wolf Kroeger,  “Wolf has a wonderful ability to tune himself. He’s fantastic with two things: one is the big overall concept, and the other is expressing the concept through minute detail. He has a painterly eye, and, like myself, he was inspired by Orientalist art. But Wolf also did an enormous amount of research into ancient Persian and Near Eastern architecture. We spent days and days looking at pictures of Iran.”