Gina Prince-Bythewood (Director - 'The Old Guard')
'Guarding The Truth'
In directing 'The Old Guard,' Gina Prince-Bythewood becomes the first black woman to direct a big budget superhero movie. "I hate the fact that I'm the first — in 2020 that we're still having firsts," she says.
And she vows that she will use this opportunity to help other Black filmmakers succeed in Hollywood. "It's an absolute responsibility for me and the others who have slipped through to keep that door propped open," she adds.
Having previously directed intimate, romantic, independent films like 'Love and Basketball' and 'Beyond the Lights,' she's not necessarily who you'd expect to helm the latest action-packed comic-book come to life.
But the filmmaker says she was committed to making her latest film — Netflix's 'The Old Guard' — feel as grounded as her smaller films.
Charlize Theron plays Andy; her team of mercenaries has lived for centuries and fought in countless battles, but faced with a new mission and a new, reluctant addition named Nile (Kiki Layne), Andy's will to fight has waned.
"The Old Guard are a group of warriors who have been tasked with protecting humanity," Prince-Bythewood explains. "But they are at a point where they don't see their work influencing the world at all and they feel like they've lost their purpose."
On Andy as a conflicted leader and a reluctant hero: "I love Andy because I understand Andy. She is this woman who has been fighting in the good fight without really knowing why.
She's compelled to do good, but she is at a point in her life where she is tired and she does not see this endless amount of killing she has to do to protect humanity, she's not seeing the results."
"She's just seeing the world getting worse and worse and hurting itself on a loop. And she's done. She just wants it over. And I really connected with her being a woman who is searching for a purpose, who has lost her purpose and needs a reason to keep going."
"There was absolutely a time in my life where I was searching for my purpose. Why am I here? Should I even be here? What impact could I possibly have on the world? I was lost. I think every project that I've done is some sort of therapy, whether I've written it or directed it."
"Also, the fact that she is innately a warrior and she always has been — I love that about her. I love the normalcy of that, that she's a woman and she's a warrior. It's a narrative that we don't often get to see, but I certainly see in my life and in the women I grew up with."
On death being treated seriously in the film: "The fact that they're conflicted about killing is an important thing to really move into the genre given the state of the world — given really how we, as Americans, think about death and killing and guns, which is absolutely tied to Hollywood and what we put out."
"I wanted it to feel real and I wanted it to have some consequence."
"Andy kills 17 people in the church. I didn't want there to be some funny quip at the end of that. I'm unapologetic about the violence, but I never wanted it to feel like a celebration of violence."
On being a female director of a big budget action film: "I love the genre. I see all of them. I have two boys who love the genre as well."
"And it's something we do as a family, but the way that Hollywood has worked for so long, I didn't know that I would ever get the opportunity. But in the last couple of years, once [director] Patty Jenkins rocked Wonder Woman, that absolutely cracked the door open and some of us who have been eager to get into this space, you know, saw an opportunity."
"So I started making choices and taking meetings that would lead me to this place."
"Women were not getting these opportunities at all. It wasn't even a question. We weren't on the lists. We were not even getting meetings. It was dire. Absolutely."
"There's just a narrative in Hollywood that women don't like action, that women can't direct action and that we didn't have a desire to do action. And, you know, all of that was false. But it was strong and it was real. And it's kept us locked out for a great many years."
On the romance between two male characters Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli): "It was really very cool to see how passionate they were about their characters, how passionate they were about being able to tell the story."
"What those brilliant actors brought was a realness and a groundedness. I think the stronger way for me to play it was, let's not be flashy with it. Let's just be real with it."
"There's a normalcy to it in the way that Andy and Nile are our warriors and bringing a normalcy to that. It was the same with Joe and Nicky — that they belonged in this world, they're warriors and they're two men who have loved each other for millennia."