If this is even possible, how does the film rank to other films you’ve directed, if you can even compare them?
Well the only comparison I can intelligibly make is that this is the first time I’ve done something like this. And we’re careful, we’re not using the word “remake.” We’re using the word “reinterpretation” because we feel this is something new. And I’m going to give a musical analogy. We’ve all seen and loved, growing up, Julie Andrews singing “My Favorite Things” in The Sound of Music, but the simple melody was John Coltrane expanded. We’ve heard many different versions of “My Funny Valentine” from Miles Davis that became something else. We’ve all heard the “Star-Spangled Banner” sung 50 billion times, but when Marvin Gaye sang it, or Whitney Houston, or even Jimi Hendrix, they made it different. You respect the source, great respect for the source, that’s why you’re doing it. And at the same time you want to respect the source and make it something new. So that’s the spirit that we did it.
That’s a great analogy and definitely captures “reinterpretation” to its fullest. So what song best represents the character Joe (played by Josh Brolin) and the struggle that he went through?
Oh, I got the song… “Hey Joe” by Jimi Hendrix. (laughs) In fact, I used that song already in Crooklyn, so that was another song that we couldn’t afford. I thought of that and I hummed that to Josh while we were shooting. Josh and I had a great time together. After having spoken and having expressed wanting to work with each other for a number of years, we finally got it done.
Any last words before Oldboy hits theaters?
Here’s the thing… I’m not hatin’ on all the detractors because I know how deeply they feel about this movie. So it’s understandable. And it’s very understandable that there’s fears this will be another watered-down, white-washed version of Asian cinema. But if people give it a chance, they will see that it’s not that at all. Not that at all.