In case you somehow haven't heard, Snyder's Sucker Punch is a period piece set in the 1950's and centers around a young girl whose evil stepfather puts her in a mental institution to lobotomize her, so she retreats to a world in her own head in order to plan her escape. The film is coming out on March 25th, 2011.
I'm a relatively fast typer, so I was able to capture a large amount of the questions and answers and get them up for you guys so you can almost feel as if you were there with us. Geoff Boucher from the LA Times Hero Complex moderated the panel, and then opened the floor for Q&A's from the audience, so those are the sources of the questions.
Many of the female cast members joined Snyder on stage, including Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens, Jena Malone, Carla Gugino, and Jamie Chung.
Zack, each of your other movies was an adaptation – this is your own script. Snyder - “I've been working on this for...Steve and I have been working on this thing for quite a while, 8 years, maybe longer. I'm a huge fan of fantasy and movies, and every time you work on a project you're like there's a cool story that I'd love to tell and that's what Sucker Punch has become...it's fun in this current climate of making movies to be able to make something that's completely original and not based on a breakfast cereal or super glue.”
[They show the trailer for the first time, and it's the first time the actresses on stage have ever seen any of the footage as well.]
Tell us your character and talk about the footage. Emily - “My reaction to the footage is I'm shaking like crazy. I play Baby Doll, her mother dies and she's left with her abusive stepfather and he puts her in an insane asylum and she has to escape and she meets her friends across the way.” Vanessa – “I play Blondie...she fits into the world with these amazing girls and actually gets to shoot some of the biggest guns, which was one of my favorite parts.” Jena - “I play Rocket and it's so amazing to see it. I wish we could be out there. She plays Sweet Pea's younger sister, Baby Doll comes into this world and I have to introduce her and end up really liking her...I help rally the troops.” Jamie - “I play Amber and she's kinda the first one to jump onto Baby Doll's plan...she's extremely loyal. I think that reflects in the fantasy scenes.” Carla - “I play a Polish psychiatrist in the asylum...it was an extraordinary experience in only a way that Zack can do.”
Where did the story come from? Zack - “It originated for me in this transition, I've been making commercials for 15 years before I started making movies...playing with time, and kicking ideas around with time...really in a stressful moment, being able to pack this insane experience in a single moment, and it grew. I was fascinated by trying to create an ending, because the movie does have a twist or a reveal and I wanted to have a satisfying ending...I wanted something where after I saw the first cut, I thought 'I could take all of the action out and this would still be awesome' because all the girls did such a good job.”
Each girl dances differently – Zack - “There's a sequence that depicts a day in the life of the reality that has been created, and in that reality there's a dancing singing aspect to it. The girls had to do a montage of what they would have been doing.” Emily - “I didn't get to do a dance...every time my character dances is when we get transported into the other world. We would group together and watch the other girls when they had their solo dances.” Jena - “What's cool is that Carla's character is a therapist in the reality of the world and uses sound therapy and that's used in the interpretation of the other world with sound therapy...the cool part about the movie is visualizing our internal selves...I think it'll be exciting for you guys to see the dances.” Carla - “We did them in this massive hall that was built, like an old homage to Moulin Rouge...this huge space with other people in it...it gave it this spectacular energy.”
How much better is it to work with an all-female cast? Zack - “It was awesome. I could say something about male and female sexuality and sexual preferences and a lot of stuff, but maybe what I'll just say is that these actors were amazing and never flinched and never blinked when I asked them to do crazy shit....and that is all I can ask.”
Jamie, how did you prepare? Jamie – “I had a crash course in how to fly a plane and a chopper, so that was pretty cool. The girls worked out so hard, we trained together for three months. It required a lot of physical commitment and it naturally came together that we all loved spending time together.”
What's it like to have a place among the sexy ass-kicking women of cinema? Jena - “It's totally awesome.” Emily - “This movie is so different in terms of a female action movie...a lot of times it can be a parody, like 'oh, these girls have guns, so it's funny.' But it's great.” Jena - “I think an absolute credit to Zack is that working in this genre a lot of times people tend to build one dimensional characters...not only do we get to wield amazing weapons, but we're also intricate human beings on screen as well.”
Zack - “We've done stuff in this movie we've never done before.”
Do you find yourself leaning one way or another between simple stories or more complex ones? Zack - “It's more exhausting [for the complex ones]...each thing is its own thing and the reality is that they're all complicated in their own way...when you're telling a simple straightforward story you've got to keep it compelling and interesting.”
Zack - “I don't want to ruin the movie, but I spent a lot of time working on this movie trying to figure out the rules and reality of the world once you're in the alternate reality...as long as those things all coalesce in the end, that's the real trick – getting them all to match up in the end.”
Zack - “I think the movie has a chance to be PG-13...there's a lot of fantasy creatures being mowed down. If you've heard of a little movie called Lord of the Rings, they killed orcs and stuff and got a PG-13.”
How was it making and writing such strong female characters? Carla - “It's what's so exciting and unique about this movie is that you do have incredibly empowered women in this movie...women are always looking for multiple layers because we're very complex creatures...you don't have to be just one thing...a lot of male action heroes it's cool to just be what you are, but with women, it's like 'they're dressed sexy, so maybe they're being objectified'...for everyone you'll see a real strength and triumph in themselves.”Vanessa, what was it like? - “I do this because I do projects that I'm passionate about and I heard about this one and read it and said it sounds like the coolest movie ever but there's no way in hell Zack will give me the part. But I auditioned several times and luckily enough he did give me the part...everybody on the film is so amazing and I feel like I grew so much from this.”
Zack - “I do love adapting comic books. People always say 'maybe you're too faithful to the graphic novel', but they wouldn't say that for people who adapted a regular novel...I will say that when we started working on this and written the screenplay, it became like adapting the script. I treated it with as much respect as Watchmen, 300, or Dawn of the Dead for that matter.”