Director Paul W S Anderson (Shopping, Alien vs Predator, Resident Evil) has put a new spin on Alexandre Dumas’ 19th Century novel, The Three Musketeers. Set in the 1620s, the exploits of Aramis, Athos, Porthos and the novice Musketeer, d’Artagnan have been put on film more than twenty times, but Anderson’s is the first 3D version. With a cast including Christoph Waltz, Milla Jovovich, Matthew Macfadyen, Logan Lerman and Orlando Bloom, this updated 2011 adaptation takes certain liberties with the source material, giving it a distinctly modern flair.
Playing a villainous reinterpretation of the Duke of Buckingham, Orlando Bloom spoke to Beth Wilson last month explaining why he was attracted to Anderson’s adaptation of the classic French novel and the joys of playing a baddie…
I was surprised to see Paul W S Anderson’s name come up as the director of The Three Musketeers, because it seems like such as unlikely combination. What was it about his vision of the story that made you want to be involved?
When I first sat down with Paul he said to me that he was interested in me playing the Duke of Buckingham, which immediately excited me. It was thinking of me outside of the box of the typical heroic thing, because I could have quite easily have played one of the Musketeers. I was excited at the prospect of playing this kind of dastardly, villainous, pompous British character, that was really the draw.
I think this is the first time we have seen you be bad on screen, outside your cameo on Extras. Did you enjoy being a villian?
I had an amazing time with it. The Duke of Buckingham was basically the King of England’s favourite courtier, so because he was the king’s favourite he was very wealthy, and money means power. It certainly did in that day as it probably does today, let’s face it. I always thought of him as that big kid in the playground who could kick sand in all the others’ faces because he’s got the big brother, as in the British Empire, behind him so nobody is really going to mess with him. So when he arrives in France on an airship- it is 100 years too soon for an airship, but you know it’s creative and artistic license and it kind of works- he sort of throws his weight around like a big petulant child. And I loved that, it was a lot of fun.
Because the character is quite different from the book, who did you draw your inspiration from, were you basing the character on anyone in particular?
There wasn’t really a specific character that I was thinking of. Paul [W S Anderson] had referenced rock stars, he wanted all the characters in the movie to feel like rock stars of the time. I suppose I was thinking more along the lines of a David Bowie, cause if you don’t wear those outfits, those outfits are going to wear you, and then you look like a bit of a tool. I have these crazy blue and purple outfits and he [Buckingham] has got a real attitude and swagger and I just wanted that to feel very real.
Buckingham is perhaps the most changed character from the book, are you worried about the reaction from Dumas purists?
I think you can’t please people all the time, and I think if you are a big fan of the book and you are looking to see a retelling then you are going to be either pleasantly surprised or shocked. It is a very irreverent telling of this story, let’s face it. It’s a much more contemporary telling of the story of The Three Musketeers, but I think that is because it speaks to our generation.
It is an action adventure story for our time. This story has been told by pretty much every generation and there is a reason for that, because it is a great story, it ticks all the boxes. But to retell it for an audience of today, I think Paul [W S Anderson] felt it needed a bit of a face lift or a contemporary spin on it, and that is what was in the script, and I thought that worked very well in the script.
I had a lot of fun personally playing the Duke of Buckingham. If people don’t like him, then well I’m not sure I can do anything about it.
Something else that has made it contemporary is the 3D, have you shot a 3D film before?
That was the first time. Paul [W S Anderson] was very confident in terms of 3D, because he shot his last film in 3D [Resident Evil: Afterlife]. The cameras he used were the same cameras James Cameron used for Avatar.
What did you think watching it in 3D?
I think it ticks all the boxes. I think it is entertaining, it is full of action, I think it is going to be a film my son will really appreciate when he is old enough to watch it.
Why do you think directors are drawn to you for fantasy and period films?
I don’t know. I didn’t think that I would find myself doing a slew of those kind of period type movies, but I do always enjoy them. I love making them, I love seeing them, I love watching those kind of movies. I love stepping back in time or going into a futuristic world, or a mythological world, like The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit. But you know, I don’t know, I don’t have an answer to that.
The other thing you are well known for is working on successful franchises, do you think you are going to bring that same success to Musketeers, because it is definitely set up for a sequel?
Well it is lightening in a bowl with movies I think. You just never know, certainly it could go that way, it depends on how the movie is received. You really can’t tell with movies today. But I hope people enjoy it, it has got all the elements.
The Three Musketeers is released in Australian cinemas October 20th