Producer Lauren Shuler Donner denied to SCI FI Wire Internet rumors that her husband, Superman director Richard Donner, assumed the director's chair from Gavin Hood during production on the upcoming prequel X-Men Origins: Wolverine, though he helped out.
Shuler Donner also talked about the March 31 leak of an unfinished workprint of the movie online and other matters during an exclusive telephone interview last week. Wolverine opens on May 1. The following are edited excerpts from the interview.
The rumor mill has it that your husband was involved in the filmmaking process. How involved was he and when did he enter the picture?
Shuler Donner: Dick and I don't work together as director and producer for obvious reasons. He has final say, final cut, and that's not good in a marriage. But I was making four movies at the same time last year, one in North Carolina, one in Los Angeles, one in New Orleans and one in Sydney, Australia, and I just could not do them all. I finally turned to him; there's no better person to have come down and help out on this kind of movie than the director who did Superman. So he really gets [the] Husband of the Year Award, because he did come down, which was, I think, wonderful for Gavin.
These movies are really hard. If you're a 10-time director, they're hard. Gavin is a newer director, and new to the breadth and the scope and the visual effects and the size of this kind of movie, and the cast and the physical effects, everything. So Dick served a really good purpose. He, a, helped me out and, b, he was sort of there to help grandfather it through. If Gavin needed any help or some muscle on his side or anything like that, Dick was there.
With regard to the leak, when did you get word, and what's the latest on the situation?
Shuler Donner: Oh, God. [Fox co-chairman] Tom Rothman told us—myself, the director, Hugh and [producer] John Palermo. Tom wanted us to hear it from him first. So that's how I heard about it, and he then reassured us of the force with which Fox was going to go after the culprit, bringing in the FBI, bringing in every resource possible. I believe they will find the guy, and they will give him 10 years in prison.
Hugh Jackman is playing Logan/Wolverine for the fourth time now. Was he on board the whole time, or did he need some convincing?
Shuler Donner: Hugh and I had discussed it when he was shooting Van Helsing, so it must have been around X-Men 2. I wanted to make sure I'd read all the X-Men comics, and I read about the further adventures of Wolverine. I read the Japanese love story, the one about his marriage to Itsu. I just flipped and showed him, and he loved it. And we decided together that we wanted to pursue a Wolverine spinoff. Then we talked to the studio. And we all decided it was important to ground him in his origins so that the audience would be in the same place we were. So [Jackman] was no trouble. He was a willing partner.
Action aside, what's Wolverine about?
Shuler Donner: This one is really is about, for him, for Wolverine, the animal versus the human. If you mistreat a human being long enough, can they maintain their humanity? He being part animal anyway, he grapples with that. Am I man or am I an animal? That's at the heart of this.