During the premiere of the film "Vikingdom", director Yusry Abdul Halim shares his thoughts on making a big budget Viking film in Malaysia and explains his version of Thor.
Cinema Online's interview with Yusry Abdul Halim was conducted on 11 September at TGV Sunway Pyramid.
Q: Tell us about your film "Vikingdom".
It is a fantasy film, loosely based on the Vikings and the Norse mythology. Apart from making the god Thor into the main villain, we also decided to tell a Viking story unlike any other. The genre is action fantasy and the good thing about it is the fact that anything goes. You're not stuck with logic or reality. I think, as humans, we are always intrigued by larger than life stories.
Q: Where did you get the idea to do a Viking film in the first place?
In 2007, I was in Cannes with my brothers Norman and Edry promoting "Cicak-Man". There we met a film enthusiast who tried to sell us the idea of doing a TV show about Vikings. We did see potential. But it wasn't until 2 years later that Norman picked it up again and wrote the story's concept. It was then passed to American scriptwriter James Coyne to develop and transform it into a script.
Q: Can you tell us about the visual effects in this film?
The film is a CGI driven film and since it was entirely shot in Malaysia, it meant that there was going to be a lot of computer generated backgrounds and matte paintings. Even James when he was writing the script asked if there were things he needed to steer clear of in case there were things that were easier written than executed. I told him to just go what what he felt the story needed. Without visual effects, "Vikingdom" will not be what it is.
Q: How much of the story is based on Vikings historical events and Norse myths?
The only historical event in the film is the Lindisfarne attack by the Vikings in 793, but even that is given a fictional twist!
Q: What about your version of Thor?
He is our bad guy. Our version leads Vikings to attack the monastery in revenge for abandoning the old Gods and converting to Christianity. He is not at all handsome and dashing like in the Marvel version. Our Thor isn't blonde. In fact from our research, Thor was described as a redhead. I decided to exaggerate that a little more, by pushing it to scarlet red! I went a little further and made him into a 'rock star' pagan god.
Q: Tell us about Dominic Purcell, who plays Eirick and Conan Stevens who plays Thor.
When I was told that Dominic was on board, the first thing I asked was what his height was! I already knew what Dom could do as an actor because I was familiar with "Prison Break", so his agent sent shots of him to show his physique. We knew we found our Eirick but he is over 6 feet tall, how are we going to find a Thor who will tower over him in the duel? That's when we were thankful that we found Conan Stevens, who stands at 7'1!
Q: What are your thoughts on "Vikingdom", especially now since it's all done?
Just completing it makes me proud! At the start, when we mentioned anything about making a Viking film, we were told it couldn't be done or it was overly ambitious. Of course, we did feel like it at a few points during production but hey, here we are today promoting the movie knowing that not only will it be released here in Malaysia, but also in the cinemas in the US!
Q: Thank you so much for talking with us!