Exclusive interview with the director of Conan – Marcus Nispel

Some weeks ago we started a blunt project and collected questions from the community on this blog and in the official Conan forums for an interview with Marcus Nispel, the director of the upcoming Conan movie. Even though the success of the project was not sure at start, we send it off into the aether in hope to get an answer back, from the powers that be and by Crom we got an answer!

Here is the exclusive interview with Marcus Nispel, the director of the Conan movie.

Interview with Marcus Nispel

How important is it to you to stick to the Conan character of the original REH stories?

The character of Conan is what most attracted me to this project. He is the last of the reality-based superheroes and the most unapologetic one at that. I find that refreshing in these politically correct times.

Did you read the REH Conan stories, and if so, which one is your favorite story and why?

I have no favorite story – the character is what intrigues me, following him through life.

What do you think are the predominant qualities of the Conan character?

Well, it’s all spelled out on the opening page. Conan is “a man of great mirth and great melancholy”. Though, I had to look up what “mirth” meant, I certainly dig the melancholy aspect. To me, that really sets Conan apart from other heroes.

What are your thoughts on the previous Conan films? What did you like or dislike?

The original “Conan” movie was written by two master storytellers, Oliver Stone and John Milius, giving us a tough act to follow! Their movie also features the best beheading ever in a major motion picture. Besides, perhaps “Let the Right One In”, which is another perfect example of creativity over special effects.

Like all movies they have to be understood in the context of the time they were produced. Our collective consciousness changes every generation, though and we can’t step into the same river twice. “Conan the Barbarian” was initially released in the disco era, on the heels of “Star Wars” and “The Empire Strikes Back”. The original film must have hit people like a freight train upon its release. Today is a different time entirely. As a society, we are more cynical in times of depression. We have been overfed with high gloss and contrived CG imagery and seek something we can grasp. As our consciousness has shifted, so will the image of Conan.

What guidelines for the actor who portrays Conan would you give to your casting director?

We’re not interested in doing an Arnold look-alike contest!

What are your thoughts on the REH themes (“barbarism vs civilization” and “existentialism”)

As I already said, we are all getting a little fed up with our own civilization. I’m guilty of several remakes, but am fully aware that a remake of great material does not automatically equal success. A movie like this needs to hit the zeitgeist.

In all of my movies, I am drawn to tribal behavior since I grow easily bored with the antiseptic world in which we live. I like to give people a second hand idea of what its like to have dirt under your fingernails. Most of all, I like getting dirt under my nails making it! I want to create a cathartic experience!

Are you aiming for an ‘R’ rating with this movie?

I’d love to do the x-rated version!

What do you have in mind for sword fights? More asian swirling swords, or more realistic fighting?

Conan is no Errol Flynn and there will be no “frozen moments”, but he will spar with a host of characters that fight in their unique own ways. We all know that Hyboria is an ethnically diverse world. Conan will have to adapt his style slightly to conquer them.

Will you aim to make a movie with varied pacing and different emotional moods, or a high-paced action epic?

I will include different emotional moods in a high-paced action epic. One approach need not exclude the other.

This entry was posted on Thursday, July 30th, 2009 at 11:13 pm and is filed under Official Conan Movie News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  • TacoSHell

    this is “saying a lot without saying anything” at its best.

  • http://poderfriki.com Kike

    Awesome project and awesome answers… well done!!

    I will put the interview in my own blog (with a link, of course).

  • Markus

    get the impression he even does not know the stories of REH.

  • http://poderfriki.com Kike

    Yes. This is bad.

  • Crombus

    Well Done CTMB! Nispel did answer the questions the way a politician would. He didn’t reveal very much and I did not sense a strong passion for Conan. He seemed more interested in the idea of Conan. Who knows…

  • troniX

    What’s the difference of an X-rated movie from an R Rated Movie?

  • http://www.thecimmerian.com NightSpire

    …..coming from a hardcore Howard base (and shieldwall if you will), those answers are terrible at best and this smells of another half cocked money grab from hollywood. dismiss my input etc but the director needs to READ Howard…Id suggest The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian from Del Rey to start. its clear the director has no clue who Conan is, what drives him and his motivations.

  • James McKenzie

    Good work Waldgeist! Hard to comment on Nispels answers. They seem as mentioned vague but at least he answered them and they may get less vague in the future. Alas unlike Conan I am a patient man. I had to be I’ve been pining for this movie since they destroyed the franchise with “Destroyer”. Not to mention discovering REH’s work after seeing Conan at a young age, and dreaming that a movie would be more like the source.

  • Wulfnor

    Nispel’s “Pathfinder” had some great cineamatography and overall visual concepts. But the storyline wasn’t very fluid an had to many holes in it. It will be interesting to see what he does with “Conan”. Come to think of it, in a Hyborian light, “Pathfinder” Could of been about a shipwrecked Vanir boy adopted by a somewhat friendly northern Pict tribe and what happened after that.

  • http://poderfriki.com Kike

    I think is very cool taht he responds. Nispel demonstrated that he have some respect to the fanbase. I like that.

  • Lyndle

    Actor to star as the new Conan ? I think WWE wrestler John Cena appears convincing enough. Would that he were a little taller for the character though.

  • derFeef

    It somehow feels like he is avoiding the questions about the lore a bit. But its a good move from him that he answered the questions.

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  • bindruner

    Overall I’m optimistic about this project. Forget Cena–Triple H is far more Conan-esque for my money. There’s much more to Conan than just big biceps. He uses his wits and is incredibly skilled in a variety of things that he learns along his travels. Very adaptable. Very clever. Definitely Triple h would portray that really well. Of course, that’s just my opinion.

  • James McKenzie

    Where’s Amsterdamaged when you need him?


  • James McKenzie

    Has anybody heard that the movie’s release date is now 2011 rather then 2010?

  • http://www.ageofconan.com Waldgeist

    @James that’s only on IMDB and the dates and facts on IMDB are largely based on user input. If stuff like that changes it’s not really a given fact that this will be the case, but let’s be realistic for a second: No actor cast (whoever they cast will have to be trained at least for some weeks), no casting director even was the last info, no nothing. Shooting will at least take 2-3 months these days and the cutting etc.. before the movie can be pushed on to special effects where they often do spend nearly a year to finish it. It’s not that unrealistic to believe it will not be out before 2011.

  • http://s165.photobucket.com/albums/u53/rojo_web/? Rojo

    “I have no favorite story” Sure, I think he has not read anything from Howard. Crom , I’ve never pray you before but don’t let this movie go to bullshit.

  • http://www.swordsfromspain.com Sean

    My sources (sword peeps) have said 2010 will be when it is released, even though IMDB says otherwise. Either way there are some fantastic swords already at Marto Swords From Spain!

  • http://poderfriki.com Kike

    Swords from TOLEDO! “Da best”!

  • Claudio Pimenta

    Acredito que nenhum diretor conseguirá traduzir em filme o conteúdo das revistas do Conan por dois motivos: eles não tem a paixão dos leitores e certamente não compreendem Conan como nós, que nos orgulhamos de saber seus amores, as cidades, os inimigos e as bebedeiras que vimos Conan participar.

  • Tommy

    I’m new to reading the REH Conan stories. I’m addicted to it. After learning more and more about Conan’s character, I realized how easy it would/will be to fuck this up on the big screen. This could go in so many horrible directions, but so many great ones too. If they get the character right, it could be great. BTW, Pathfinder sucked, but was visually amazing.

  • Stuart Colley_uba fan

    The questions will of course be leading us to want more, to guess and debate on ‘What is best in life” for the Conan film. Like all of us who have read and re-read the REH stories and those who followed the map he left behind through other gifted writers, we have a real passion for Conan.

    If there was some message I could pass on to the producer(s), director and stars of the new Conan film, it would be this: Conan is special, fans have been reading Conan to an age, since we were boys and now have become men, we are not doing to easily appeased if you get it wrong!

    Because, once you don that broadsword, with it’s shagreen scabbard, the full weight of Conan will fall on all our shoulders! CROM

  • Thomas

    Nispel’s seeming lack of knowledge about the source material, and his interest in the melencholy aspect of the character, are worrying. Though I am thrilled to hear it may be X or R rated. Im also heartend by the comment on limiting cg, thats great im tierd of seeing movies where characters do insanly improbable things thanks to computers. Conan especially is a character grounded in a grim, gritty world. Id love to see the character rip up a rival from groin to sternum and spill his steaming guts all over a dusty desert floor.Not cg though! Real special effects like in old zombie flicks; day of the dead comes to mind they should look into hiring someone like Tom Savini.

  • Adtje

    Thoug i’m a very big fan of Conan..
    I thinkt this movie will suck big time…!

  • Karl Leo Herzog

    Who or what is a Conan?

  • Tom

    I hope he can get the dark feel of the original Howard, without making it campy.

  • Christina

    I heard that an actor named Andrew McLaren is going to play Conan. Does anyone know if there is any validity in that. Looking at his IMDB pictures I think he would be perfect for the role.

  • Kelly

    The buzz is that McLaren was cast but we are still waiting to here an official press release.

  • Templar 6

    I can’t wait to see the movie already, I hope it is indeed Andrew McLaren who gets the part!

  • http://x-entertainment.com/halloween Jasons bloodline

    they auditioned, that’s all.
    it’s still being decided.
    it may go to this actor, wicked and built:


    conan was my favorite since i was the age of ten.Just the last few years conan is coming back.MCfarlen toys and the new conan game for all consoles.Arnold is who we know as conan the barbarian and destroyer.PLEASE dont find some prettyboy faget with bleached white teeth modern clear english and with shaved chest. If you do this conan will be destroyed.Keep the story of chrom and fix it add to it do something different.Make conan king . show him fight beasts from hell or old norse creatures.Use medievil type war battle music that nobodys heard of get peoples hearts pounding in there seats.Conan i belive has alot of potential. KEEP IT RIGHT AND CONAN WILL CONTINUE TO FIGHT!! TO THE BEST GOOD LUCK!!

  • lols

    this will be a pile of fucking shit!

  • oh yeah?

    The actor(I use that term very loosely)they chose for this sucks for Conan(or anything for that matter).The diretor Lionsgate chose(Marcus Nispel),also sucks.I saw Pathfinder.It was a piece of shit.Friday the 13th remake was a total piece of shit(i still want my money and hour and half back on that one).I see a pattern.Hey Marcus,HOW ABOUT READING A FUCKING CONAN BOOK before you going throwing your shit spin on something loved by millions???

  • Josh

    I think Marcus is great at remaking movies. My only worry is the kid they are talking about using. I know he said it’s not going to be an Arnold look alike contest. But, at the same time, if Marcus’ biggest interest was the character himself, he should know the appearance is a big part of it. That being said, Arnold looked like THE CHARACTER, therfore, so should the new person being cast. Large, VERY muscular, dark haired and European. Period. Please Marcus, me and many others beg you to get someone with a HUGE Arnold like body. Otherwise I will spend the entire movie feeling as of I am watching an imposter.

  • Andre

    This movie is going to fail terribly. I have no faith in the casting or the director. What a shame. We are living in an era where ideas are second hand and nothing new or fresh emerges. The feel of the first picture was perfect. The last thing fans want is a cheesy hollywood production with a skinny surfer looking guy that looks like one of Conan’s victims instead of Amra himself. It was never the violence, or magic or the creatures…it was the dark character and the grim world he explored alone. His morals were loose so his decisions were never predictable, thats what makes him interesting, this is going to be predictable and weak…like all the recent cheesy remakes…leave the classics alone…

  • Crom

    Scrap this movie and do:

    The Hour of the Dragon, also known as Conan the Conqueror
    with Leonard Nimoy as Xaltotun

  • karla

    Pathfinder was a joke of a movie; Complete shit. Fuck him for even thinking of taking on CONAN. GOD hollywood is clueless.

  • http://www.my-chess-set.com/product/st1bg.htm chess set

    I’m interested to see what Nispel will bring to the table. But he is correct in saying that John Milius is a tough act to follow, virtually impossible if you ask me. And the movie is also missing Basil Poledurous. I’m hoping that I don’t hear an electric guitar at any point in the new movie.

  • Tristan

    I truly hope that the writer(s)/director actually read the Conan material. The TV series was an abomination. The tag line was “Conan:Destined to free the oppressed”. Think about how far one has to drift to get to that from “Destined to be King by his own hand”. I am a total left winger but I love Conan because he epitomizes the mythic ideal of the far right. A man who takes on the world with only his strength of self (note that Conan’s “will” is made note of as often as his physical strength). A man who raises himself up despite being a foreigner, a barbarian, considered uncouth and uneducated. And yet because of his will, his moral courage and his code of honor he becomes King of the greatest nation of mythic Hyperborea.

    Conan adventures because he is consumed with wanderlust and curiosity (and yes in the stories his very intelligent and often underestimated because his manner is mistaken for stupidity). It give me pause that they are regurgitating the “Conan as child slave” revenge formula. If they do it I hope that they show that the effect of that is to create an indomitable desire for freedom. The Conan from the books would have died trying to escape captivity rather then tolerate it. But by the same token he would have seen other slaves as “weak” (and probably therefore “deserving” of their position) for tolerating their slavery.

    Well, they did a good job when they relaunched Batman with Christian Bale. Let’s hope that Hollywood has learned something.


  • thelot

    They should have done the only complete REH Conan novel, Hour of the Dragon, also known as Conan the Conqueror. Lenore Nimoy as Xaltuton http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xaltotun. Pthfinder was a shitty movie and this director most likely didn’t grow up reading REH so the movie will most likely suck also. I do think the actor could pull it off but he would have to be made to look the old book covers style with a Scared face’ straight black hair but this director will make him a pretty barbarian. Hopefully i’m wrong but I doubt it.

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