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An exclusive with Peter Berg, director of Battleship

CliqueClack sits down with the director and writer of 'Battleship,' Peter Berg, to talk about popcorn movies and his goals for the movie.

I recently had a chance to sit down with the director of the new movie Battleship (read my review Friday), Peter Berg, while he was in DC doing press in a lightning-quick interview. He revealed at first his love and respect for all branches of the armed services, and how that carried over into film.

The movie is based on the classic board game Battleship. Did you want the movie to be a light-hearted homage to the concepts of the game or is it really “Let’s just make a straight action movie” in that vein of the “super-movie” concept?

I wanted it to be a fun, summer popcorn film, you know what I mean? Simple as that sounds, it’s not an easy thing to do. I wanted to make a film that yes, had action, but never took itself that seriously. The next film I do is a very, very brutal war film called Lone Survivor, which is the story of a very violent gunfight that happened in Afghanistan in 2005. Nineteen Special Ops guys were killed and one survived, and that’s a hard R and brutal war movie. Battleship I wanted to try a different tone, I wanted the movie first and foremost to be fun and I wanted to make the kind of movie that a 45-year-old Marine could come back from his second deployment and take his wife and his kids and they could all go to the movie theater and have a great time.

And that was my goal. So the tone of it was meant to be a bit lighter, a bit more kind of rock and roll, have some fun and eat some popcorn.

Considering the historical and geographical context of where the movie takes place (Hawaii)…

Right.

Why did you want Japan as an initial rival and an eventual key ally?

That idea came up … I wanted to have something in there, some component — you know, we opened this film internationally first, and I’ve been around the world twice with it. We did real well internationally, which was good, better than getting your ass kicked. And I didn’t want the film to just be jingoistic towards America; I wasn’t sure how that would be perceived in places like Japan, China, Korea, and Russia, which are huge film markets now. And so I liked the idea of having another ship, and I just thought it would be cool to get a look at another one.

The idea for Japan came when I was getting ready to embark on a destroyer, and I was in Pearl Harbor, I was getting ready to spend a week on a destroyer called [the USS] Chung-Hoon, and I was on the Chung-Hoon, standing on the helipad on the stern of the ship, and there’s a big American flag, just like on the back of every American naval ship. And Pearl Harbor — you ever been there? Well the ships get lined up, there’s destroyer row, and missile cruiser row, so it’s really cool. Just ship after ship after ship. I was standing on the stern and looking back, and right behind the American flag was a giant Japanese flag. The Rising Sun! And it was attached to a ship, and the ship had Japanese writing on it. I’m like, “What is that?” They were like, “That’s a Japanese destroyer.”

“That’s a Japanese destroyer?! In Pearl Harbor?” Does anybody even see that? It was like, no, no, we’re friends. We’re allies now. We work together — we share information with each other, we fight with each other. We’re friends. And that f**ing blew my mind. And I was like, if you could take my grandfather and wake him up from his grave and bring him here right now, and say, “Look, Grandpa! America and Japan are friends and our ships are now peacefully next to each other in Pearl Harbor!” He’d just go right back to the grave. “Kill me again.”

We’re almost out of time, so just a very quick question.

Sure.

Considering the movie is probably going to do pretty well, they’ll likely want to make a follow up or a sequel. Is that something you want to be involved with?

Yes. In a word, yes.

Thank you very much for your time.

Thanks for coming out.

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

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Categories: General, News

One Response to “An exclusive with Peter Berg, director of Battleship”

May 20, 2012 at 7:06 PM

Brief, and breezy, but well-done. Kudos!