Barry Levine blends cinema and comics for a fresh take on older characters
A movie producer and comic book publisher, Barry Levine is no stranger to success. From the Bruce Willis starrer Die Hard: With A Vengeance to the post-apocalyptic Oblivion with Tom Cruise, he has pushed the boundaries in filmmaking. But his ‘baby’ is Hercules he tells us, showing off his massive tattoo of the character on his arm. Before the film, starring Dwayne Johnson in the titular role, premieres in the country, Levine takes us behind the scenes.
More on the portrayal of Hercules.
There have been many concepts to Hercules since there have been many movies prior to this one. The book was a source for inspiration for the script so we stayed pretty true to the book. But to demystify Hercules and the myth about him being a demi-god or a mortal, and to create a relationship not just about 12 labourers but the love he had for his comrades and they for him, was the most important.
Picking Dwayne Johnson.
You can have a lot of big people and have their physicality appropriate for Hercules. But one has to have a certain attitude that has to translate to the audience. And he has said many times that he was born to play Hercules. He is a talented actor, he has the right sense of humor when you need it.
In the pipeline.
Most of our films for Abstract ( a yet unannounced company of mine, Mike Bundlie and Amrita Sen), are tent poles. They are either in the sci-fi fantasy action genre but there’s a few incredible dramatic pieces with two directors that have won the academy award, who are involved in each of those pieces.
What sets your upcoming films apart?
Two of them have no major special effects and are pure story, very character-driven and very grounded. A great producer here in Hollywood named Lauren Selig got me one of these projects and she’s involved in some incredible films herself. She’s opened the door for me to be more involved and inspired me to be involved in character-driven story-based films.
The future of comic books and films
Comic books will always be a great source of inspiration to people because it is truly the only thing I have seen where in the average person has the opportunity to dream. And even transform their dreams to limited amount of words with panels and tell a story. It doesn’t matter to me if someone’s written and been in the comic business for 20 years or just quit a job and had a great idea for a comic book and wrote the manuscript; a great idea is a great idea. It doesn’t matter where it comes from or who it comes from.
Hercules premiers this Sunday at 1 and 9 pm on Sony PIX.
— Aakanksha Devi