There are just a little over three weeks left until Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium transports theatergoers to the luxurious pie-shaped space station in the sky. But don’t take that to mean Blomkamp has just been sitting back in anticipation, fielding questions from journalists; he’s hard at work on his next few projects. And how do I know that? Well, from a journalist. Wired’s Mark Yarm recently wrote a profile on the South African director, which also gave us the image seen above, not all that different from the other promo stills we’ve seen of Matt Damon holding a gun. Far more interesting was the article, which covered his political message (or lack thereof) with Elysium, a District 10 update, and his original casting choice for Damon’s Max De Costa character: 8 Mile actor and rap superstar Eminem.
Initially intending the $100 million action flick to be similar to his surprise 2009 Best Picture nominee District 9 as far as a mid-to-low budget and little star presence, Blomkamp asked Em if he would be interested in the part. Oddly enough, it could have happened if Blomkamp had been willing to set the film’s production in Detroit, Eminem's hometown. But that didn't happen, and one snap back to reality later, Blomkamp realized he might need a bigger name, and Damon stepped up to the exoskeleton plate. Before Eminem, the director also tried to get fellow South African native Ninja of the duo Die Antwoord to play the lead, but Ninja opted out due to the high-profile nature of the film and the risks attached. However, both members of Die Antwoord will be staring in Blomkamp’s next project, the sci-fi comedy Chappie.
We’ll get to Chappie soon, but Blomkamp’s District 10 tidbit is more important. He and co-writer Terri Tatchell have written an 18-page treatment for it, which he says is “really fucking cool,” though he shared no details, only mentioning that he isn’t yet committed to the project. As long as they don’t let anyone else do it in the meantime, I’m all right with that.
Before any of that though, he’s definitely going back to the low-budget side of things with Chappie, which will star Blomkamp’s go-to star Sharlto Copley as a sentient droid. It was described by the director as “fairly touching…But you know, fraught with gunfire.” He says the smaller scale is “project-specific, not part of an overall strategy.”
Yet Blomkamp mentions another cheaper project he’s developing called Mild Oats, which he says is “somewhere between John Waters and Jackass.” In fact, he showed off a prop to Yarm, who described it as “a 3-foot-tall, photo-realistic silicone puppet rocking a mullet and jailhouse tattoos. The deranged redneck stands completely naked, revealing six nipples and a prodigious, uncircumcised penis. The character’s name, Marvin, is inked on said organ in gothic lettering.” I already cannot wait to see this movie. Don’t look for any hidden meaning there.
But what about the meaning behind his upcoming movie? “Elysium doesn’t have a message either,” he says, in response to Yarm’s opinion that Michael Bay films are without messages. Regardless of what he's putting in front of audiences, he doesn’t want to be “the political filmmaker.” I’m pretty sure Marvin would knock that stereotype right out.
Elysium hits theaters and IMAX theaters on August 9. Check out the trailer below, only picture Eminem this time.