Jimmy Hayward Talks Jonah Hex
Bill Desowitz: How much of a departure is Jonah Hex?
Jimmy Hayward: It's a departure only because I've been doing big four-quadrant family movies for so long. I enjoyed making Horton because it was material that I really liked. But this material is really dear to me that I've been into since I was a kid. So in that respect, it wasn't a departure. In fact, when I went into my first meeting with Warner Bros., I had a weird Western tale digest with me that I've had since I was eight or 10-years-old.
BD: What was your take on this?
JH: My take was that Westerns today are made in the somewhat traditional sense. Obviously, movies like 3:10 to Yuma I love. So why not take Jonah Hex -- who is an action figure -- and make an action film. We'll blow up trains, but in terms of the way we shoot it and cut it, the music we put to it, we'll bring it into a new age. And I think my choice to use Mastodon, the progressive heavy metal band, and to push it into new territory with the timing of the action and with the DNA of the movie. We take it for granted the way the spaghetti Westerns used music, with Morricone and the twangy guitar, but the way they shot and cut them with the music was an alien thing back then. And I think it was trying to push [the Western] into a new direction like that and get operatic by the end of this movie where we're in this revenge fantasy in his mind.
BD: What about the videogame influence?
JH: I think it's impossible not to be influenced by videogames given that I'm such a gamer and I'm in the generation of videogames that grew up all around us. I don't know how it comes out in the movie. Maybe you can tell me.
JH: Well, one of the things that we found out when we were cutting the movie was that once you found out that Quentin Turnbull [John Malkovich] was alive, it was a non-stop, Terminator-style 'til he gets him kind of thing. And we found if we took side journeys that it took away from that. And the length of the movie has to do with that because we cut it down shorter.
BD: Eighty minutes is pretty short these days.
JH: A graphic novel is more like what it is. The essential idea was to get him where he needs to go.
BD: How was your animation background helpful to you?
JH: I think anything that has to do with illustration and visual storytelling. Except for the scenes when he stops and has moments with Jeffrey Dean Morgan [who plays the buddy he killed] or Tom Wopat [as Col. Slocum], he doesn't say a lot. So there's a lot of visual storytelling. When you look at the train sequence or when he rides into town at the beginning of the movie, it's all composing the frame and shot flow. When you project it, it all winds up flat -- whether it's animation or live action. Preparing the movie and making the movie, it's a major difference.