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David Goyer II: (Just David Goyer II)
© Jason Myers

Stop right there. Before you go any further, read Jason's summer 2000 interview with David Goyer. Then come back for the sequel.

David Goyer is the screenwriter of Dark City, Blade, and now Blade II. Goyer also writes for comic books, and, after a short hiatus, has recently returned to his JSA writing duties.

Jason Myers: Blade II at one time was called Blade II: Bloodlust. Was it changed because of conflict with the Vampire Hunter D sequel?

David Goyer: No, they didn't care about the conflict. It was just a stupid title to throw onto it as a place-holder. To be honest, no one ever wanted to have the title be some kind of Blade+colon+combo.…

JM: When you talked to me before, you said that in Blade II, Blade gets laid. What happened?

DG: Blade got laid in the script—I still wish he would've gotten laid.

JM: With the character of Nyssa, we get a very brief brush with the idea that "vampires are people too." Nyssa seems to feel that suckheads have a place in the universe, but by the end, Blade is conveniently spared the ethical quandary of having to reassess his life's mission. To make a choice. That last scene with Nyssa was beautiful, but doesn't it also take the easy way out?

: Of course it takes the easy way out—but the truth is, had Nyssa survived, he would have spared her. She fought with honor, and ultimately, Blade would have respected that.

JM: Even though he knows that by sparing her he's guaranteeing that dozens or hundreds or thousands of people are going to end up dead?

: It's a judgment call. But Blade has been forced to "humanize" them. I think his own sense of honor would determine this.

JM: You told me that a Blade TV series was in the works, to debut after the second film. Anything come of that?

DG: New Line is still interested and we will be discussing it, I'm sure, pending the performance of the film over the next few weeks.

JM: Anything we should be watching for when we watch Blade II? Inside jokes, clues for the next movie, stuff the average person wouldn't notice unless they're looking for it?

DG: Many of the names of the Bloodpack are in-jokes between myself and Guillermo. Verlaine is one of my writer's guild pseudonyms (a nod to the poet, and the band). Chupa is based, of course, on the lollipops. Reinhardt's "Can you blush?" line is a big in-joke but too sensitive to go into!

JM: Why name a character after Chupa-Chups? Because you've had a lifelong affinity with those strangely monikered candies? Or just, hell, because you can?

DG: Just thought it was humorous—Guillermo and I got a kick out of it.

JM: Can you explain to me the physics of those photonic grenades?

DG: There are no physics—obviously those things wouldn't work in "our universe".

JM: Well, yes. But how does it work in 'Blade's universe'? If you don't want to get drawn into a hypothetical science discussion, I can respect that. But I'm interested in questions like 'When vampires turn to dust, why do their clothes go along with them?' (A question by the way, which the Blade universe answers—it's the intense heat—while I have to make up my own theories for Buffy the Vampire Slayer.) Anyway, at one point, Nyssa evades the blast of one 'light grenade' by ducking around a corner, which makes sense, because you can evade sunlight by standing in the shadows. But when Blade sets off a whole mass of light grenades, the blast comes barreling down the curvature of a tunnel (which light doesn't tend to do) and then gets stopped by a shallow pool of water (which light also doesn't tend to do). As a filmmaker, you have your own rationalizations about why things work the way they do, even if you don't directly spell it out to the audience.

: In the original script, Nyssa was spared because Asad threw his body over hers while they were both underwater. He still burned, even though he was beneath water. And she was burned as well, just not fatally—singed, more like it. As for the "light" rounding the curvature of the tunnels—you're right. It would never work. It was just one of those movie buys.

JM: Another nitpick question. You've said that you plan on setting Blade III in the future. Blade is half-vampire, you said, and therefore he ages slowly. But didn't he age at a normal rate from the time he was born until the first movie?

DG: I know. I f[relled] myself on that one—but it's easy to get around. Whistler can simply have been wrong. Blade is aging slower.

JM: What's your writing process? Do you have a routine or ritual?

DG: I tend to write from 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM every weekday. I work in my office, not at home. I like keeping these things separate—treating writing as if it were a "real" job.

JM: When you're writing a comic book adaptation, do you drown yourself in the source material, or do you just familiarize yourself with the basic story and use it as jumping-off point?

DG: I drown myself in the material—I read every comic that Blade had appeared in when writing the first film - just as research. For the second film, I felt that I had, by then, appropriated Blade enough that I could write him without other reference.

JM: What are the differences in the way you approach writing for comics as opposed to screenwriting?

DG: Comics have panel descriptions—which are basically the equivalent of calling shots in a film script—something a screenwriter generally doesn't do. Also, comics scripts can have more asides to the artist/editor - essentially, footnotes.

JM: If you could do a movie based on any comic, what would it be?

DG: I'd love to do Fantastic Four at some point. Keep hoping that will stay mired in development until I can take a crack at it.

JM: Time for some updates: Evermere.

DG: Development hell—might see some life in the wake of LOTR and Harry Potter.

JM: Curse of the Demon.

DG: Development hell.

JM: Phoenix Without Ashes.

DG: Meeting with directors.

JM: Previously, you said, about Phoenix Without Ashes that "it's so damn expensive that I can't imagine it ever being made."What's changed?

DG: Advances in CG have made it more possible.

JM: Ghost Rider.

DG: They want to make a PG movie out of it.

JM: I'm guessing you're not too thrilled about that. You wanted to make something that was gritty and dark. How does that change the way you approach the project? Or have you decided that you can't tell the story you wanted to tell within that framework?

DG: [Director Stephen] Norrington and myself can't tell the specific story we were interested in telling within that framework—you're absolutely right. In this case, it would make more sense for the new studio to start from scratch than to try and shoehorn our script into a PG movie.

JM: Tell us about Murder Mysteries.

DG: I adapted the Neil Gaiman short story. It's the best thing I've ever written and I hope to be filming it next year or so.

JM: Any chance you'll team up with Gaiman to do a Sandman adaptation?

DG: I doubt it. This is a harder sell for me, in terms of a movie. Not that I don't absolutely love Neil's book. I just think it's a hard adaptation.

JM: Yeah. It's a movie adaptation I've been hoping desperately for, and yet fearing at the same time. It just seems such a likely candidate to get FUBARed. Do you think that it's a project that just should not be attempted?

DG: Personally, I just can't see a Sandman film being good. Too many ways to screw it up. Sandman is not a simple idea in terms of porting it over into a film —not like Batman, Superman, or even Blade. It's very literary. Not that I don't love Sandman—it's just a particular bogey that I would shy away from with regards to adapting it.

JM: Now's your chance to convince us sci-fi geeks to make a point of seeing your directorial debut, ZigZag, a movie with "no genre trappings, action or otherwise, whatsoever."

DG: Read the review of it on the Ain't It Cool site. It's the real deal.

JM: "Harry Knowles liked it. You will too"? Come on, you've got to do better than that. Have you read his masturbatory (in more ways than one) review of Blade II?

"I believe Guillermo Del Toro eats [naughty word deleted] better than any man alive. Watch his 'HOUSE OF PAIN' sequence in Blade 2. Blade 2 is the tongue, mouth, fingers and lips of a lover. The Audience is the [naughty word deleted]. Watch your audience. This is where Guillermo Del Toro [naughty verb deleted] on the audience. It starts with long licks with a nose bump on the joy button slowly."

Just a small sample of his um… wit and wisdom. Ick. Pass the industrial-use lava soap, please.

DG: Yes, I've read Harry's Blade II review. His review of ZigZag is entirely different and perfectly sums up my own feelings for the film. He "got" it in the same way that Ebert did with Dark City when he did his commentary. Ultimately the film is about growing up—the uncertainties of childhood, but also, those little moments of transcendence and innocence. As I've said before, it's an entirely different beast from Blade or Dark City.

JM: You're now transitioning from directing your own screenplay (ZigZag) to directing someone else's material (The Ted Tally screenplay of Joe R. Lansdale novel Mucho Mojo). How does that change the way you approach filmmaking?

DG: It doesn't fundamentally change my approach. Each movie has its own rules—you always have to be true to the characters. Some are more realistic, some aren't, but they always possess a certain truth in terms of correct action and responses.

JM: Any other projects we haven't covered yet?

DG: Umm... a new one, which will be announced via New Line in the coming weeks, that I will be re-writing for myself to direct.

JM: Pick a dreamteam of filmmakers (writers, directors, actors, cinematographers, whatever) that you'd kill to get a chance to work with.

DG: I loved Soderbergh. I'd love to work with Gene Hackman, George Clooney... I don't know.

JM: You're getting to the point in your career (and have been getting there for the last few years) where, instead of just thinking, for example, "Man, Terry Gilliam sure is cool," you can think in terms of "How can I weasel my way into working with the guy?" Just a decade ago, you really couldn't have thought in those terms. Doesn't the possibility of working with your heroes and idols excite you?

DG: Yes, it excites me to a certain extent. But I've also met with, and in some cases, worked with enough of my so-called heroes that I've learned it can be a tricky business. Just because you worshipped them when you were a kid doesn't necessarily mean you will be able to work with them in any kind of fulfilling way now. I've had the experience on more than one occasion of being disappointed by my heroes.

JM: I saw an awful lot of James Cameron's Aliens and Romero's Dead movies in Blade II.

a) "They were conscious influences",
b) "They were subconscious influences",
c) "I didn't take inspiration from Aliens, but from the movies that influenced Aliens",
d) "Look, even Shakespeare didn't write in a creative vacuum", or
e) "Screw that, Blade II is 100% original"?

DG: Aliens was a conscious influence, as was T2 to a certain extent. These were both very successful sequels, in my opinion. And I definitely looked at them in terms of what made them successful. I hadn't really thought about Romero's Dead movies... that may have been unconscious. Guillermo and myself were certainly familiar with his work.

JM: You've said that you've always envisioned the Blade story as a trilogy. Your influence is definitely in Blade II, with great continuity of character and attitude, but aside from a few throwaway references to the first movie, Blade II feels more like the next adventure in a series than the second part of an overarching storyline. I don't see this trilogy heading toward an epic conclusion that ties everything together. Right now, it's shaping up to be a trilogy more in the Indiana Jones sense than the Star Wars or Lord of the Rings sense. Are you going to make me eat my words in Blade III? Or am I expecting something that you're not particularly looking to deliver?

DG: New Line would rather the Blade films feel like episodes—in that regard, they will play better as individual films. I think that Blade II was a progression in regards to Blade's character—how he viewed himself and his enemies. Assuming Blade III happens as planned, I do think we have to significantly move things forward. You can't have the vampires threatening to take over the world in both films and then do the same thing in the third film. We have to do something genuinely different—moreso because it is the third permutation. So yes, hopefully you will be eating your words.

—Film/DVD editor Jason Myers prefers to eat his words with a light drizzling of powdered sugar. Or sometimes with peanut butter. Mmmmm…tasty!

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