Ang Lee WIRED Interview

Thursday, May 29 2003

The following was originally posted on the HulkMovie.com message boards by leemubai:

WIRED Magazine Article

It's Not Easy Being Green

"I'm a dramatic kind of guy," says director Ang Lee, who made his name with the mannered Sense and Sensibility and the serenely cool Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Now he's taking a real dramatic leap - with the rampaging hothead known as the Hulk, who smashes into multiplexes everywhere June 20. To show the big lug's sensitive side, Lee hooked up with an Industrial Light & Magic team led by eight-time Oscar winner Dennis Muren. For the f/x guru, the Hulk was an opportunity to move CG toward a stylized, rather than imitative, effect: "embellished realism," Muren calls it. For Lee, the CG sessions let him experiment with 50 shades of green. Wired caught up with the director as he toiled in postproduction.

WIRED: It's a long way from the art house to Marvel Comics. Everybody knows you like to jump genres, but why The Hulk?
LEE: The more movies I make, the more I'm into visual effects - not only in a technical sense, but telling a story visually and exciting people with visual design. And I have to find an excuse for doing that. So I start to pick up things like martial arts films, comic books. Plus, the color green - especially murky green - speaks to me deeply. Once I read The Hulk, it had such a calling to me.

WIRED: So what's it like to direct a 15-foot-tall rageaholic?
LEE: He's one of the cast. It took a long time, months and months, to get a sense of how to create this character. I didn't want him to do cartoon type of acting. It was rough getting his weight, the way he moves. You can't do motion capture - no human reference is good enough. And he has to look twice as real, because we know he's not.

WIRED: Because he's green.
LEE: Yeah. Because he's big and green and CG.

WIRED: I know it took up to 20 gigs of disk space to put the Hulk onscreen for a few seconds. How did you handle the science of Bruce Banner's transformation?
LEE: Gamma rays were the coolest thing in the '60s - very atomic bomb, very Cold War. But the coolest thing nowadays is nano: molecular machines. So we combined nano with a gamma zap. It's pseudoscience, but it spices the movie up.

WIRED: Creative license, huh? Isn't your wife a scientist?
LEE: Yes. She's a microbiologist, doing exactly what Bruce Banner does.

WIRED: Be sure to keep her away from the gamma rays. So how is it working with the folks at ILM?
LEE: There's nothing "industrial" about the working spirit here - they all feel like artists to me. Computers are dominant, but it's not just pushing a button; it's handcrafting. That was a surprise. A good surprise.

WIRED: Pick a superhero - who would you be?
LEE: I know I don't want to be the Hulk. It's very painful to be the Hulk; he's a tragic hero who happens to be a monster. Probably Superman. I like his outfit.

- Jennifer Hillner

Thanks to leemubai!

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