His movie debuts on Netflix and not on the big screen in a theater, but Portland writer Greg Rucka couldn't be more thrilled.
"My understanding is there's a potential for theatrical release," said Rucka, referring to "The Old Guard," a story of immortal soldiers that joins the Netflix family of movies on Friday, July 10. It's based on Rucka's graphic novels by Portland's Image Comics.
"I love that it's on Netflix," he said.
Rucka remembers getting a call from Don Granger, feature film president with production company Skydance Media. "He said, 'Hey, Netflix wants 'The Old Guard,' and I said, 'Oh, that's cool,'" Rucka said.
"There was a pause and he said, 'You're all right with that?' And, I said, 'Why wouldn't I be?' Some people say it's a streaming service and not the same (as theatrical release). But, you're talking about a service that reaches 180 million people. It's going to be shown around the world, it's financed and on Netflix and, 'In what world would I say that's a problem, Don?' Charlize doesn't enter picture unless Netflix comes aboard."
That would be Charlize Theron, the star of the movie.
"From the moment I read Rucka's graphic novel, I felt like there was great potential to make this thing feel really relevant and have it ask some real questions about humanity," Theron told Vanity Fair magazine. "Is what we're doing enough? Is what we're doing actually changing anything? Are we making (things) better, or are we making the world worse?"
Theron stars as the main character, Andromache of Schythia, aka "Andy," who leads a band of warriors who navigate being trapped in immortality and plying their trade for those who can find and afford their services. "But, in the 21st century," as promotions state, "immortality is a hard secret to keep, and when you live long enough, you learn that there are many fates worse than death."
Theron's Andy is a present-day warrior, having been born thousands of years ago and having died many times. She fights human traffickers, terrorists and other bad people. But it's wearing on her.
It also stars KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Harry Melling.
The characters don't know how they have acquired supernatural abilities. Schoenaerts was a French soldier who fought alongside Napoleon. Former enemies, Marinelli was part of Italian Christian invaders and Kenzari was from Muslim forces during the Crusade. And a new immortal enters the picture (Layne), a U.S. Marine, and she discovers her own powers after being killed in the Middle East; she becomes like a sort of younger sister to Andy.
They are targeted by CIA operative/historian Ejiofor and pharma executive Melling.
"This is an elite, small army of people with a great set of abilities," Theron told Vanity Fair. "They don't die easily."
Rucka, who has lived in Portland with his wife and fellow writer Jennifer Van Meter since 1998, has worked on "Superman," "Batman" and "Wonder Woman" for DC Comics, and also penned stuff for Marvel ("Wolverine," "Elektra," "Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra"). He's worked on "Lazarus" and "Black Magick," published by Image Comics, and been published through Portland's Oni Press.
Rucka has written hundreds of comics and more than 20 novels (including the "Atticus Kodiak" series), as well as for video games. He's currently developing "Lazarus," co-created with Michael Lark, with Legendary Pictures and Matt Tolmach Productions.
Published by Image Comics, Rucka wrote the creator-owned "Stumptown," which became a big success later when ABC made it a detective drama starring Cobi Smulders; Rucka serves as creative consultant.
After producing two series of "The Old Guard" (soon to be three), he and artist Leandro Fernandez have struck the big-time: Rucka wrote the screenplay for "The Old Guard," and spent weeks on set in England alongside director Gina Prince-Bythewood.
"She would call and text with questions at all hours," Rucka said. "There are so many stories about writers being fired once the director comes on board. But, Netflix, Skydance and Gina wanted me there, and that's beyond gratifying. They were under no obligation."
He was particularly impressed with Theron.
"I spent five weeks on the set watching everybody work and watching her work, and she's the consummate dedicated professional," Rucka said.
For more on Rucka and "The Old Guard," read our past story at https://pamplinmedia.com/pt/11-features/469024-379326-rucka-joins-forces-with-netflix-on-old-guard.
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