SXSW: Danny McBride's Your Highness Was Shot Without A Script And Basically, It's Krull

By Josh Tyler 2010-03-13 16:36:01discussion comments
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Director David Gordon Green didnít show up at SXSW today specifically to talk about his upcoming medieval film with Danny McBride, but heís so excited about the project he spent a lot of time talking about Your Highness anyway. And hereís the thing: Whatever you think it is, youíre probably wrong.

According to Greene, itís not the parody-like comedy weíve all sort of assumed it was. Even some of his British actors had the movie all wrong. He says, ďI think they thought they were doing like the Holy Grail, they thought it was a spoof. We didnít make a spoof. We made an adventure, a medieval, early 80s adventure, sword and sorcery film. So it was not Lord of the Rings. When you reference Krull to an actor, they donít reallyÖ Beastmaster theyíre not reallyÖ you know.Ē

Thatís right, Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman, and Zooey Deschanel are about to star in a movie thatís basically KrullÖ with puppets. Green explains: ďItís got so many different elements working, from puppets to guys in suits that canít breathe.Ē

I thought Krull was a punchline, not a cultural touchstone? But Green has other ideas. Ideas which do not include a script. In fact he wants nothing to do with scripts and Your Highness was shot without one. Green explains, ďI just donít really, I never bring scripts to set and I donít really care about them. If they get my movie financed and if AD thinks itís an agreeable schedule, well then I donít need them. I know what the scene kind of needs to do and if I have the actors that embrace that, then we just improv. I do that if Iím making a $40,000 movie or a $50 million movie.Ē

Green has fallen in with the Judd Apatow crowd so you might expect that his comedies would contain a lot of improv. But the way he describes it, they donít just contain a lot, theyíre all improv. Even Apatow usually does at least one take from the script. Green doesnít even have the script. Whatís more, he does this on every movie. Not just his comedies. He says, ďIíve done all my dramas the same way. Typically thereís enough of an understanding or thereís a memory of what the script is that a lot of it is there, but you could hold any script Iíve done up to the light based on the final product of the movie and thereís 15% of whatís there in terms of words or dialogue. I donít need things to sound writerly. Thatís not something Iím drawn to as an audience in a movie. I watch certain actors and be like, yeah you won an Oscar but you look like you rehearsed it for two days in a mirror and thatís boring. I need the imperfections of speech. The people that donít know what weíre gonna say next. The good thing about having a bigger budget and more film stock to burn is Iíve been doing a lot more kind of cross camera scene so you can genuinely improv and not have somebody taking notes and then recreate an improvÖ. Iíd rather have them not know what theyíre gonna say so you have to really listen.Ē

It sounds like heís taking Juddís methods to an entirely new unheard of level. In fact, he took it so far that some of those aforementioned British actors just couldnít stomach it. Green explains, ďWe had all these fantastic British thespians that were from the stage in London and thought we were fuckin retarded. They were scratching their heads every day being like, why did I agree to do this. ď That was fine by him. He says, ďThem actually being frustrated by the things Danny was saying is perfect, because they donít know how to respond.Ē Some simply werenít able to handle it though. In particular, venerable Brit actor Charles Nance. Says Green, ďHe would just be like, Ďcut, Iím not going where youíre going.í "

The question is, are audiences willing to go where heís going? His extreme improv technique earned box office success for Pineapple Express, but will he be able to pull it off while also attempting to revitalize the infinitely cheesy,80s sword and sorcery genre? I donít know, but at least heís not making Black Knight. Succeed or fail, Your Highness sounds like something we havenít seen anywhere before.
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