June 2003
The Hulk : An Interview with Director Ang Lee

Interviewed by Diana Blain

The Hulk: An Interview with Director Ang Lee

With most of the Marvel comic book characters (Spiderman, X-Men, Daredevil) coming to the big screen nowadays and becoming blockbusters with sequels pending, it was inevitable that the best and strongest character out of that bunch would make his debut on screen. Once “The Hulk” was given the green light to be made, the producers of the film sought and found the best man who could direct it with finesse and passion. Ang Lee, who most recently won an Oscar for producing the foreign film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has done an amazing job with the use of CGI and visual effects. In an interview with blackfilm.com, Director Lee talks about directing The Hulk and casting Eric Bana in the lead role.

DB: Before meeting with you I had an opportunity to see an excellent presentation on the technical aspect of the film. One of the several ILM representatives said that your intention with this film is to make a delicacy out of American fast food. Why is that your goal?

AL: I keep telling them not to say that in public. (He laughs.) This is better than fast food. “The Hulk” is a very popular character. People are familiar with him. He is very easy to swallow. Like Chinese pulp fictions of martial arts, it’s an indication of the prohibited pleasure. This is “The Hulk”; the pleasure and the aggression that is hidden in the subconscious. That wild energy in art and drama attracts me. It is mass entertainment.

DB: What did you find most challenging about this film and how did you overcome those obstacles?

AL: A big part of this project was the freedom I had to put it together. The ability to have money available to me and the responsibility of bringing to life this comic genre was huge. The hardest part was keeping the balance. This movie was something I always wanted to do. On a smaller scale, I had this experience with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; bringing together the pop genre and psychodrama. I feel as though I am using the same method with The Hulk just with a bigger audience. It’s the first big studio film I have ever done. I have never worked with CGI (computer generated images) let alone using the most advanced technology in film. I think the hardest challenge was to bring all the elements together and bring the film alive. The editing process was difficult; constantly making sure the scenes play right and flow into creating a believable movie. I was pleased with the sounds and music; it really brought the movie to life. I believe it’s a big summer movie.

DB: When did you decide to make “The Hulk” CG (computer generated) and why?

AL: I was educated to believe that was the way to go. Looking at the film I don’t think we could have done it any other way. It’s the future of doing film of this genre.

DB: Let’s talk about Eric Bana. Why did you feel he was the best actor to play “The Hulk”?

AL: I wanted somebody I felt could portray Bruce Banner as well as the metamorphosis of becoming The Hulk well. Watching The Chopper, I knew he could do the job. I wanted a fresh face.

DB: When you were starting out as a director, did you feel that you had to prove yourself a bit more because you are of Asian descent?

AL: With my first English film, Sense and Sensibility, I struggled during the first half of making that film because I was still learning English and I was trying to earn my way to being a major league director. I had to overcome psychological barriers and earn the trust of the film world. I think at times there might be culture and language barriers which might make it harder to get there but I don’t feel I have a problem with people. I don’t feel I am any different from other directors.

Stan Lee, Lou Ferrigno, Ang Lee, Eric Bana and Nick Nolte at the LA premiere of Universal's The Hulk - 6/17/2003DB: Did you receive much insight from Stan Lee (the originator of “The Hulk”) in how to tell the story?

AL: We had a chance to chat a little. He’s a great guy. He checked with me to make sure I knew that Bruce Banner and The Hulk hated each other. (laughing)

DB: After the screening was over you said “There are no excuses, if this movie fails than it’s all on me because I am The Hulk ” Was there any point during the process of this film that you felt you might have gone a bit to far in taking on this project?

AL: Yes, I am constantly in doubt and in fear. I say that because I am so satisfied with what people offer to me. They [the production team] work day and night to give me what I want. They really want to see the movie be the best. I received full support on this project.

DB: Well, Mr. Lee whichever side of the coin this picture lands on, expect to add another metal of honor to your resume for bringing once again strong creative energy to the screen.

AL: Thanks.

“The Hulk” is schedule for release at a major theatre near you on June 20th.