Ron Howard doesn't do sequels. The director has been hard at work in the film industry for decades, and he has been cranking out original works year after year, from Splash and Ransom to A Beautiful Mind and In The Heart of the Sea. But every couple of years, Howard gets Tom Hanks back on set for an adaptation of a thrilling Dan Brown novel, and they are back at it again with Inferno, due in theaters in October.
This is Ron Howard's third adaptation of a Dan Brown best-seller, following The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. So when I got him on the phone ahead of the release of the latest Inferno trailer, I asked him what will set this chapter apart from the previous two installments, and what he learned on them that helped this one come together. Ron Howard told me:
I would say that Inferno is closer to the pace of Dan Brown's writing, than frankly the previous two movies were. ... A lot of the pacing issues are dependent upon the information flow and what audiences have to really understand, and there's an interesting difference between the central crisis in Inferno and the previous two Dan Brown / Robert Langdon mysteries. The population, overpopulation issue is something that is easily understood and digested and we all relate to it. It's a very modern idea. It requires very, very little explanation.
That, in and of itself, gives this movie a sort of different kind of tempo, pace, and energy. Also, the fact that in this instance, Robert Langdon is actually part of the mystery. His role in all of this is in question: for us, the audience; for him, as a central character, and you know, part of the clue path is him actually understanding where he stands in the midst of all this danger. That's new psychological territory. It's very revealing about the Langdon character in ways that the other movies haven't really had the opportunity to be, and it also gives it a real kind of breathless quality.
Not that the other two movies weren't breathless. But if you ever tried to digest a Dan Brown novel, you know that you physically can not stop reading once you reach the end of a chapter. You have to keep moving, and Ron Howard has been chasing that momentum over the course of two movies. Howard went on to explain that making Langdon part of the central mystery in Inferno was "incredible attractive" to both he and Tom Hanks, and is a big part of the reason why they returned for another movie in the first place. Howard said:
Here you have Hanks, you know, one of the great screen actors of you know, ever, and in this one, he has lots and lots of interesting twists and turns and moments to play, from the novel. He knew he was going to have that kind of opportunity and that it's a meatier role for him, and again, I think that the agenda that have both kind of hidden and revealed within the characters are all more contemporary and more immediately relatable, and for those reasons, I think scarier for audiences.
The newest Inferno trailer just landed.