Millennium and X-Files vets Glen Morgan and James Wong dropped
by the San Diego Comic Con to talk about their upcoming Jet Li sci-action flick,
Glen Morgan: Hey, Jim, tell us what the movie is about.
James Wong: [Laughs] Thank you, Glen. It's sort of a sci-fi action movie
starring Jet Li, who is the fastest human I've ever seen. And it's sort of set
in several different universes. One place we spend the most time in is modern-day
L.A., and the story relates to the idea that if there are parallel universes
that you can travel to them, and that, if you existed in lots of universes
All the yous in those universes are all linked together, sort of, by an energy
that if one of you dies, the energy that dissipates gets redistributed
amongst the survivors.
So, at the beginning of our movie, we find that this guy who's discovered this
little quirk has started to kill everyone of himself in these universes. And
we're getting down to the final two, and so he's basically traveling though
all these universes, killing himself, and the person here on earth, Gabriel,
doesn't quite understand what's happening to him, and finds himself facing this
psychotic killer who's more powerful than anything he's seen.
GM: It also stars Delroy Lindo and Jason Statham, who's also in Ghosts
of Mars, and they're two multiverse agents that are tracking
We call him "Bad Jet". There's "Bad Jet" and "Good
Jet". And Carla Gugino, who was in Spy Kids, she plays Good Jet's
wife. James Morrison from Space: Above and Beyond is in it, and Tucker
Smallwood, and Steve Rankin, who played Ray Butts in that one episode of Space:
Above and Beyond, and just a lot of people we've worked with before.
JW: When we started, the part was actually written for The Rock.
GM: The origin of this is that we have the same agency that Dwayne The Rock
has, and our agent kept saying "Write a movie for this guy", and we'd
go, "No". And, my brother and I started checking it out, and Jim and
said, "Yeah, The Rock's pretty good." So we wrote this thing. And
Jim said the best thing in a movie for the Rock to do is to see him fight himself.
You can't see that on TV.
So we wrote this story and we pitched to the head of Revolution Studios. And
you know, you pitch the story to The Rock and Vince McMahon. You know, Jim and
I worked on a TV show called The Others, and we had to pitch our stories
to Steven Spielberg, and when you're pitching stories to Steven Spielberg, in
the back of you're head you're going "Wow, this guy made Close Encounters"
And you get nervous. And when you're pitching to Vince McMahon, in the back
of my head I go, "I've seen this guy hit with a trash can."
And so we turned the script in on a Friday, Revolution gave us the go-ahead
on Tuesday, and, oddly enough, Vince McMahon wanted The Rock to do a different
movie, which wasn't The Scorpion King, but ultimately he wanted to do
The Scorpion King. And Revolution said, "We're going to Paris. We're
going to get you Jet Li."
Li is perfect, because we wanted to see Jet fight himself.
JW: I always looked at what makes a hero strong is as much the villain as anybody
else, and Jet being his own foil is probably the best foil.
GM: It oddly didn't change that much. The plot was the same.
JW: There's a lot of Eastern philosophy that Jet embodies that we incorporated
into the movie.
On the movie Final Destination:
GM: New Line came to us with their existing treatment. Final Destination,
the original story had, you know, like, Death, with a hood and sickle kind of
thing coming after you. And I said, "What if we just do it without anybody?
Without ever seeing the bad guy." So they went with that.
You know, I think if you look at everybody's fear of flying, it's not actually
being in the air. It's getting on the plane, and all the weird kind of set-ups.
JW: We did that movie in Vancouver. So I had to fly back and forth a lot. I
wasn't really afraid of anything until the very last flight. At the beginning
of the movie, in the title sequence, there's a little skeleton that's hanging
in the window. Well, my wife actually gave that to me for good luck at the beginning
of the movie.
GM: So she says
JW: So she says. So, at the end of the movie, they gave it back to me to bring
home, and I thought, "This is it. The curse of Flight 180 is going to hit
me now." Fortunately, nothing happened.
GM: I think I was on Millennium, and we were writing Final
Destination, and I was in the airport at Vancouver, and over the intercom
they start playing John Denver. So I go, "If the next song is Buddy Holly,
I'm not getting on this plane."
On the origin of the dynamic duo of Glen Morgan and James Wong:
JW: We met, actually, in high school. And, so, we actually went to the same
college, in L.A., at Loyola Marymount University, and we sort of came out of
studying film at the same time, and we started working right after that together.
GM: We did 21 Jump Street. We did The Commish.
So, we were supposed to do a show called Moon Over Miami.
[Loud cheer from one audience member]
GM: Get out of here. Sorry, if you worked on it. We were supposed to
go on that, and our agent said, "You've got to watch this pilot"-
the X-Files pilot. So we went to this room, and we had already sort of
committed to Moon Over Miami, and we sat there and watched the X-Files
pilot, and we thought, "Wow, this is pretty good. But I'm sure Moon
Over Miami will be great too." So we wrote for Moon Over Miami,
and we had this idea for a stretchy serial killer. But, actually what happened
is, we really liked the X-Files pilot, and we thought, "That would
be a show that we could really do well." Because we sort of think in that
Where do you get your ideas?
GM: A lot of times it depends on the situation. Like, on The One, they say,
"Make a movie with The Rock." So, you kind of work backwards. You
say, "Okay, I've got to get The Rock to fight himself in the last 20 minutes.
So, you've gotta work backwards. I think Jim came up with the parallel universe
I think on X-Files, our first show, we were supposed to write a monster
show, and we're sitting around going "what are we going to do?", and
we had this weird office that had this big air conditioning setup from like
1930, and we were there late at night, and we said, "Hey, what if a guy
tried to come in here and eat our liver?" The liver wasn't the first part
we thought of, but, you know
JW: I don't remember that.
GM: So, you know, it's just what the show needs. "Beyond the Sea"
was: Gillian [Anderson] was kind of getting short shrift, so we kind of wrote
that for her.
JW: That was the beginning, at least that I knew, of Internet chat things about
shows. After every Friday night when a show came on, we'd go to Internet chat
sites and read about what people thought.
We had planned to make Gillian believe
. Change their roles toward the
end of the season. I think by show seven, people were saying, "What a bitch.
How come she doesn't understand anything?" So we realized that and wanted
to do something earlier. That's why we wrote "Beyond the Sea", where
Mulder became the disbeliever and Gillian became the believer in that sense.
So, circumstances sort of force your hand sometimes.
Will you write any more X-Files episodes?
JW: No. We actually haven't written an episode since year four. We sort
of separated from the Chris Carter company.
GM: They won't let us, 'cause I want to kill off the Lone Gunmen.
You guys wrote the second season of Millennium. Why didn't you do
the third season of Millennium?
JW: Cause they kicked us off.
GM: Oh, you know why? Because we did a pilot at Fox that didn't get picked
up. And we just thought it was time to move along.
You know, you read stuff, and people either really liked that second season,
or they kinda rag on it. And we're really proud of that stuff.
Back to The One:
JW: Once Jet came on, all the action changed. Because his specialties and his
skills are martial arts. When we first had The Rock in mind, none of the action
was going to be martial arts. Once Jet came on, that changed, because that's
his forte. And so, all the action was reconfigured.
I was helped a lot by Corey Yuen, who is a wonderful director. We sort of sat
down, and started thinking about each of the action scenes. We talked about
how the arc of the action scenes should go
. What kind of complications
there should be, and then he would come up with the choreography, and show me,
and show Jet, and we'd work it out from there.
GM: There's a fight in a factory, where Jet fights himself. Five/six weeks,
for about ten minutes of film, and I think it came out pretty cool.
JW: There's two doubles that Jet works with. So, Jet and his team have
worked together for a long long time. And so, Jet actually came into the movie
with people who had already been trained in that way. Even so, when you watch
or, hopefully, when you watch the movie, you won't notice this.
But when we were making the movie
. Jet's double is a wonderful martial
artist. Incredible. I think he doubled for Chow Yun-Fat on Crouching Tiger.
But, when you see Jet do it, it's almost 30 to 40 percent faster than any of
the stunt guys can do it.
GM: We had to go work on the script with Jet. He was doing Kiss of
the Dragon in this hotel in Brooklyn. I'm a Hong Kong action fan, and you
see it in a movie, and there's editing and all that stuff. He was in the hotel
room, and he was trying to demonstrate
In the movie, the bad guy was uses a technique which is just a straight line.
It's all power. And the good guy uses [a technique], which is never a closed
fist, and it's fighting in a circle. And he got up, in his hotel suite, which
was big, but its not that big. Jet's under six feet. He's not a big guy. When
my eyes thought, "This is an optical illusion." When
his feet hit the ground, the room shook. It's really pretty amazing, his physical
capabilities and speed. And he's been doing it since he was a kid. You know,
he performed on the White House lawn for Nixon.
How much of the fighting in The One is digitally enhanced?
JW: Well, since Jet has to fight himself, already the majority of the
last sequence is digitally enhanced, because he's fighting a partner that doesn't
actually exist. Unlike Kiss of the Dragon, which is a very hard martial
arts movie, this is more fantastical.
GM: Jet really cares about his fans a lot. Kiss of the Dragon,
the action was devised because of what people had written to him, saying, "I
don't want to see wirework. I don't want to see your feet leave the ground."
And so Kiss of the Dragon is pretty graphic, pretty violent. It's just
Jet. Just Jet and his skills.
So Jet and his team, when they came aboard here, part of the attraction was
to go bigger
. Now, we made choices. When you're filming ideas, you have
to say "Don't Matrix it to death. Some of that camera stuff. We
had speed ramps, but you avoid some of that stuff because it's somebody else's
tool. But, you know, there is some wirework. I mean, this is a science fiction
piece. It's a heightened reality in which there is an infinite number of universes
and people can get stronger, and so there is that. But it's not just that. When
he fights himself, he can fly 30 feet off of a catwalk onto the floor, and then,
for the next two minutes, it's, you know, kind of beautiful, where he can move
and fight himself. So, this movie has everything.
The One premieres nationwide November 2, 2001.