Following their Hall H presentation at Comic-Con International in San Diego, the cast of "Sucker Punch" held a press conference. Joined by director Zack Snyder and producer Deborah Snyder, the group discussed transitioning from child stardom, the empowerment of fight training and director Snyder's mental state.
"[I'm] completely schizophrenic," he answered when asked why his stable of films is so diverse. Beginning with "Dawn of the Dead," and following through to "300" and "Watchmen," the director has also completed "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole" scheduled for a September 2010 release and "Sucker Punch" due out next March. "I think we've been trying to make movies that are, so far, things that we're interested in; that we think are cool," the director continued. "Though, I would say that zombie movies and comic book adaptations aren't a crazy jump there. Animated owl film? Okay, I'll give you that one, but it is animated."
For Vanessa Hudgens, the Warner Bros. film marks her transition out of teen stardom where she is best known for her role in the "High School Musical" series. "It was a bit of a challenge at the beginning, because I felt like a lot of people could only see me as the girl who randomly broke into song and dance," she joked. "But I sort of loved this movie. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I auditioned for it several times and just tried to put the work in. I hope that people give me a chance and, once they see me in this, I won't be the little showtune girl."
"Yeah, but to her credit, every young actor that starts out has something to break out of as they get older," added co-star Jenna Malone, who also began working at an early age in films like "Stepmom" and "Contact," where she played a young Jodie Foster. In her mind, Hudgens' transition is not an exclusive trial. "Whether it's Disney or whether it's this or whether it's that, I feel you could ask any actor that question."
The Hall H presentation featured a different version of the "Sucker Punch" trailer than has appeared on line, offering less of an idea for the story. With the March release still off in the distance, the director was somewhat reticent to give story details to the assembled press. "The point of the footage was not to tell the story," he explained.
Each of the performers gave a quick brief on their characters in the film with Malone getting the ball rolling. "I play Rocket. Basically, Babydoll comes to this mental institution and she meets all these characters that she sort of brings into these alternate realities," she explained. "I sort of help rally the troops and form a really beautiful bond with Babydoll. And, you know, I'm kind of crazy."
"I play Blondie - yes, it is ironic," followed Hudgens. "She's in this whole crazy world as well. She starts off as kind of a follower. I feel like, in a lot of the fight sequences, she becomes a total badass, which is kind of funny because it's a complete difference [from my past role]; as well as the whole Blondie thing." Emily Browning plays Baby Doll, who she described as "the only character whose story you get to see a tiny piece of outside of the asylum. She sort of comes into the institution and has very little time to kind of escape, so she rallies these girls together and gets them to help her escape and for them to escape as well. It sort of goes into her imagination a lot, which was really cool; being at the center of those fantasies." "[Amber is] kind of the first one to jump onboard with Babydoll's plan," offered Jaime Chung about her character. "She's really sweet and she is extremely loyal to her friends, but, you know, she's always there for Babydoll and she wants to keep the group together. All she really has is her friends left."
Carla Gugino gave a longer take on her character, saying that, "I play a Polish psychiatrist named Dr. Gorski in the asylum, which is sort of the world of the 1960's, but it's kind of Zack's world, so there's a heightened reality to it. In the alternate world, I play the choreographer/madam of the brothel who is Madam Gorski. She just has a really interesting journey because she's clearly been through a lot before. She's in charge of taking care of these girls and she does it in a very strict, tough love way, but there's probably no one who understands them like [she does]."
This is Gugino's second time working with director Snyder, and she was quite pleased to get the opportunity. "It was such an incredible experience, because you're trying to see all these characters come to life as we were filming. We were discovering things while we were shooting, which is a luxury that you oftentimes don't have. We'd find these little gems of the relationships," she recalled.
For producer Deborah Snyder, the combination of actresses allowed for a wide range of performances. "What I think is amazing is that all of these women are so multi-dimensional. They can be strong and they can fight, but they can also be feminine. They can be sexy and they can be emotional and vulnerable at times. I think we haven't really seen that yet in these female action films," she said.
The group spent three solid months simply training for the necessary stuntwork within the film. "[It] felt a lot like a mental institution," joked Malone. "You're in full wardrobe and you're just pushing past this idea of pain or emotional discomfort…but it's amazing, because once you get past that point of ritual and routine and discomfort, you get to this amazing point of exhilaration. You're totally finding new things inside you every single day. As a woman, I've never been asked to push myself to such extremes. You're finding out amazing strengths that we were able to play directly to the characters and the relationships between the characters." Looking at Snyder, she added, "So that was smart on your part."
"I didn't do it on purpose," laughed the director.
Though the film was at one point reported to be a 3D endeavor, it will instead appear as a traditional theatrical experience. "When we started talking about it, I had a certain idea of how I wanted to move the camera and I had a certain idea of how I wanted the film to feel," he said. Though he is a fan of 3D, the cumbersome camera technology involved would have changed the vision of the film. He also considered post-conversion 3D, but ultimately decided against it. "We had seen a bunch of tests, and conversion didn't sit with me that great. Without being baked in, it just felt a little weird. They've shown me tests of '300' that were pretty awesome, but it didn't feel right for this movie."
"It's in eye-numbing 2D, which is also awesome," he declared.
Asked if he was finding it harder to top himself with each picture, the directed responded, "I don't think of it like that. I'm not saying, 'I've got to top myself!'
Browning interrupted to inform the crowd, "In Australia, 'top yourself' means 'commit suicide.'"
"Oh, great. If I don't do good, I will,/i> top myself. This is what happens with an international crowd," joked Snyder to close out the session.
Sucker Punch arrives on March 25th, 2011.