IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Director Craig Brewer Talks 'Tarzan'

Tuesday, 04 October 2011 15:46 Written by  Jami Philbrick
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IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Director Craig Brewer Talks 'Tarzan'

Get ready Tarzan fans because Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic jungle character could be swinging back on to the big screen very soon. The character first appeared in a series of novels beginning in 1912 before eventually branching off into other mediums like comic books, radio, television, and films.

Over eighty movies have been produced about “The King of the Jungle” starting with ‘1918s Tarzan of the Apes, which starred Elmo Lincoln in the title role. However, former Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller is probably most famous for portraying the character in twelve films between 1932 and 1948 including Tarzan the Ape Man, not to be confused with ‘1981s Tarzan, the Ape Man, which starred a mostly naked Bo Derek and was universally panned by critics. But most people are familiar with the character from the 1984 film Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, which starred Christopher Lambert (Highlander) in the lead role, as well as the 1999 Disney animated film simply entitled Tarzan.

Hustle & Flow director Craig Brewer is about to prove that he understands a thing or two about adapting classic material for a modern audience with his latest outing Footloose, a remake of the beloved 1984 Kevin Bacon film. I have seen the movie and can promise you that Brewer does a commendable job of updating the fan-favorite film for today’s audience while capturing everything that made the original so special. If everything goes as planned, Brewer will do the same for the Tarzan franchise next, as he has just finished penning a new screenplay about the character that he hopes to direct for Warner Brothers.

Over the weekend, I had an opportunity to sit down with director Craig Brewer to discuss Footloose, which opens in theaters on October 14th. While we won’t post my interview with Brewer about Footloose until next week, I wanted to let you know now what the director told me about his proposed Tarzan film. Here is what Craig brewer had to say about the project, turning in the script to Warner Brothers, directing the film, his take on the new story, and what he learned from Footloose about adapting beloved material.

Hey Craig, what can you tell me about the current status of your proposed Tarzan script?

Craig Brewer: I’ll tell you what … I am so excited about it because I just turned my script into the studio last Friday. I’m waiting to see what they think. My producing team loves it, and some other people at the studio have read it so I’m waiting to see. I can tell you it’s the best thing that I’ve ever written. I hope they’re going to let me do it because I really think we are going to make an incredible Tarzan. So I’m hoping to do it.

Is this something that you are planning to direct yourself?

Brewer: Oh yeah, oh yeah, definitely!

Without giving too much away, what exactly is your take on the character and the story in the new script?

Brewer: I don’t want to get too in to it but it definitely doesn’t take place in a modern context. I was a big fan of the Edgar Rice Burroughs’ books and it takes place in the African Congo around the turn of the century so it’s the classic legend.

What’s been your favorite Tarzan film so far?

Brewer: I grew up in the ‘80s so Greystoke was a big movie for me. I watched all the Weissmuller movies on TV when I was a kid on this channel in northern California caller TV44. I watched Tarzan’s Three Challenges, which was one of the color versions. This one image always stuck with me where Tarzan’s battling this other guy on these nets. They are all fighting on this net that is over this boiling cauldron of silver or something like that. Even as a kid I thought that was the most incredibly savage thing I’d ever seen. What away to die, you fall through a net and you get boiled to death. When I saw Greystoke it was the first time I saw any sort of origin tale told, so that was a very important movie to me

Finally, what have you learned from adapting Footloose that helped you in writing the script for Tarzan?

Brewer: One thing that Footloose taught me was balancing the people that want to see something new vs. the people who loved the original. With Tarzan that is even harder because you got the kids who were raised on the Disney movie, then you got the people that were raised on Weissmuller’s black and white movies, then you got the people who love the books and the comics, so I have a lot of people that I have to make happy. But I have to say that if Warner wants to do this script that I just gave them, I think it will be a pretty incredible movie. 

Footloose dances into theaters on October 14th. 

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