Eli Roth is a busy man: He currently co-stars in the World War II epic Inglourious Basterds and plans to direct his own Cloverfield-style creature feature, Endangered Species. But there's no danger that he'll take a break anytime soon to pat himself on the back for this eclectic phase of his career.
Rather, Roth told us exclusively that he intends to follow up his recent work with even more unexpected creative choices, starting with a collaboration with rapper-producer RZA on the martial-arts opus The Man With the Iron Fist.
"I'm actually working on the script with RZA," Roth said in an exclusive telephone interview Wednesday. "RZA's amazing; he's on tour right now, but it's going to be a fantastic movie that I'm going to produce with Eric Newman."
The project marks Roth's first official collaboration with RZA, following in the footsteps of writer/director Quentin Tarantino, who enlisted the Wu-Tang founder to contribute music for both installments of Kill Bill. While Roth will ultimately be producing the film, he confessed that much of his work thus far has involved discovering the depths of the rapper's knowledge about the martial-arts genre.
"We're just getting the script right," Roth said. "I'm just sitting down with him, but Quentin has been mentoring RZA for years, and he's ready to do it, and he's directed music videos. He knows kung-fu movies the way Quentin knows kung fu and like the way I know horror movies; he's seen everything."
Roth also said that RZA is using a number of iconic figures in the martial-arts world but is creating something unique and specific, based on his familiarity with both movies and music. "He's got this whole movie figured out," Roth said. "But it's his own universe, his own world. It's got hip-hop mixed in with kung fu; it's got a multiracial cast; he's got people lined up and all of these martial-arts stars and choreographers he's already talked to about it. It's really going to be spectacular."
Like many of Roth's other projects—including the aforementioned Endangered Species and his intended feature adaptation of the Grindhouse faux trailer Thanksgiving—The Man With the Iron Fist has no definite start date. Yet. "That's another one where we've got to figure out the timing, with his touring schedule and the production and my production," Roth said. "But the first thing in any of these cases is getting the script right; once the script is done, everything else is easy to figure out."