It's been nearly a decade since “Sin City” hit theaters, but fans will soon be able to return to the seedy, crime-ridden cesspool known as Basin City in the upcoming “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.”
Dimension held a press conference earlier today with stars Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Eva Green and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and co-directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, where they discussed the sequel's original storylines, green screen technique, the possibility of further “Sin City” yarns and Alba's dance moves.
Based on Miller's Dark Horse Comics series, the sequel includes two chapters based on existing storylines — “A Dame to Kill For” and the brief “Just Another Saturday Night” — plus the original stories “The Fat Loss” (originally titled “Nancy's Last Dance”) and “The Long, Bad Night.”
It brings together characters seen in the first film — Alba as Nancy, Bruce Willis as Hartigan, Mickey Rouke as Marv, among others — along with some new faces, most notably Green as femme fatale Ava, Gordon-Levitt as the new character Johnny, and Brolin as Dwight (played by Clive Owen in the first film).
Since the original 2005 film's release, some actors have been replaced (Jamie Chung took over for Devon Aoki, while Dennis Haysbert stepped in for the late, great Michael Clarke Duncan).
While the first film stuck to adapting pre-published tales, “Dame” expands the “Sin” universe with intersecting storylines taking place before and after the first film, allowing dead guys like Rourke's Marv to return.
The new stories ensure that even the comics' biggest fans will be going in somewhat cold. As Rodriguez explained, “people can't just go buy the book and know what happens [in the movie].”
Among the newcomers, Brolin seemed to have fit in just fine, once he was used to shooting in a giant green room in Austin, Texas, although the noir-inflected dialogue initially tripped him up.
“You have to find the cadence,” he admitted,” the cadence doesn't come to you. It's the kind of movie you really have to dive into. You can't manipulate the movie. And you can't manipulate Frank Miller's mind.”
Miller laughed and said, “many have tried.”
“I was a big fan of the first movie, but this one is different,” Brolin claimed. “The opportunity to be able to do it was really unnerving, but when I watched it it was one of the few movies that I've done where I thought, 'Thank God I'm in this movie. I'm really proud to be in this movie.'”
“I would go see a few times if weren't in it, but because I'm in it, it would seem pretentious,” he laughed.
Fellow rookie Gordon-Levitt also felt the excitement on set, saying he grew up loving Rodriguez's earlier films. The “Dark Knight Rises” star suggested that being in a “Sin City” movie was akin to living out childhood fantasies of starring in your own animated show.
LIke the original, the sequel finds Rodriguez and Miller trying to recreate the stark, dark look of the black and white comic, shooting entirely against a greenscreen, with the scenery being added later, and digitally manipulating the lighting and design of the film in post-production.
“You get to become a cartoon in a way,” Gordon-Levitt explained, adding that such escapist fare is a good way for actors — and the audience — to abandon reality. “We're not in the real world,” he added.
Go to page two to read about Eva Green and Jessica Alba's experiences on the film, the sequel's 3D style, and news about a potential third film.
For her part, Green added another deliciously over-the-top villainess to her resume (she recently stole the show as the baddie in “300: Rise of an Empire”). She said that in playing the duplicitous seductress Ava, it was a challenge to “still be believable and lie all the time…she's so bad, so that was very fun. No conscience. No sense of right or wrong. She's pretty evil.”
Rodriguez praised Green's abilities, noting a scene in which she dupes a pair of cops into believing her innocence after attempting to murder someone close to her.
Alba, meanwhile, is reprising her role as the damaged exotic dancer Nancy, who we last saw mourning the self-sacrifice of her much older father figure-turned-lover Hartigan (Willis). The new story, written for specifically “Dame,” reveals Nancy's fate following the events of the first film. In Alba's words, Nancy is “devastated, she's an alcoholic, she's still dancing, and she's not happy about it.”
She worked with a dance instructor to learn the sexy moves, and aided costumer Nina Proctor in finding the right look. “I'm a mom,” Alba added. “I have two kids. I run a company. I'm not this drunk stripper, so I really had to get into that headspace of the character.”
Alba was just 21 when the first film was shot, and she said she was more confident about the dance sequences this time around, and relished playing a character who goes from being a “sweet, innocent, naive victim to this very powerful warrior who takes her life into her own hands and gets revenge.”
Her co-stars and directors sang her praises, with Miller noting that her first dancing scene brought him to tears and, somewhat awkwardly, that “nobody ever looked so good with scars.” When Brolin pointed out that sentiment was “weird,” Miller answered, “OK, so I'm weird!”
“Sin City” — both in print and on the big screen — has drawn criticism for its portrayal of female characters, but Alba believes “it's actually very powerful for women,” noting her character's story arc, and saying that Gail (Rosario Dawson's character) acts as a protective mother figure, albeit one who wears a thong and wields an uzi.
She even went as far to say that “A Dame to Kill For” is “bizarrely, the perfect date movie. It's got badass chicks, rad dudes who are sexy allover the place, and so much cool action.”
Although she's a relatively minor character in the comics, Miller and Rodriguez want to see more Nancy stories. “I've already got her next chapter planned,” Miller enthused, “so please show up to the second movie.”
“Dame” is being presented in 3D, a format which Rodriguez has been toying with since “Spy Kids 3.” He said that the film uses 3D in atypical ways. It works, he explained, because of the series' trademark minimalist, monochromatic style, and its “absence of information” as opposed to the relentless torrent of in-your-face visual elements found in other 3D Hollywood endeavors. The film's abundant use of negative space makes the important objects (like falling snow and flying bullets) “pop” more, “making you really feel like you were in a graphic novel.”
Miller was initially reluctant to go 3D, but pointed to Rodriguez and said “I became convinced — as I always do — by this guy.”
When asked about a potential third film, both Miller and Rodriguez were excited by the possibility, with the latter claiming, “We can go right into a third one” now that actors are more used to the green screen process and digital technology is constantly improving.
Miller quipped, “It'll be out Tuesday.”
Rodriguez laughed and responded, “You have to understand that he said that about 'Sin City 2,'” which took nine years to hit theaters.
“Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” opens August 22.