Exclusive interview: I, FRANKENSTEIN co-writer/director Stuart Beattie & co-writer/creator Kevin Grevioux

Exclusive interview: I, FRANKENSTEIN co-writer/director Stuart Beattie & co-writer/creator Kevin Grevioux

A big thanks to first-time Bigfanboy.com contributor Mac Hernandez for this fantastic article. -Mark Walters


A chat with the makers of I, FRANKENSTEIN
By Mac Hernandez – Freelance Entertainment Writer & TV producer

Very few films have spawned a mythos and world like that of the Underworld series. With fleshed out creatures, intense action scenes and a dark fantasy world, this franchise has become a favorite for sci-fi and comic book fans everywhere. Now from the creators of that reality comes I, Frankenstein.

I, Frankenstein is the re-imagining of Mary Shelley’s story of a mad scientist who creates a monster from an amalgamation of human parts. In this new rendition Adam (played by Aaron Eckhart), the monster created by Dr. Victor Frankenstein, is more than the classic Frankenstein archetype. You won’t hear the grunts, the moans or see the fear of fire associated with the normal green monster. Frankenstein 2.0 is fearless, thoughtful and a fighting force to be reckoned with. No vampires or werewolves in this fantasy tale. Instead there are stoic Gargoyles that watch over humankind. Demons blend in with the humans that they often use  to do their bidding. In addition to the war between the supernaturals, the film focuses on Adam’s quest to find purpose and his soul.

I recently had a chance to talk with the makers of the film while in New York City.

First I met up with Kevin Grevioux, whose vivid imagination spawned Underworld, and now I, Frankenstein. Lakeshore Entertainment optioned the rights to the graphic novel and concept Kevin had created. You may recognize Kevin as Raze in the Underworld series. Kevin is a bit of an anomaly – an African American actor, with a degree in Microbiology, a screenwriter and now comic book writer.

We meet up at the Trump Soho Tower. You can hear Kevin coming down the hall. His voice is deep and loud, sounding like one of the supernatural creatures he’s created. When Kevin steps into the room he’s a towering figure with a huge grin. His handshake a little intimidating. “I’m Kevin.”

Some may wonder how Kevin goes from science to screenwriter.

KEVIN GREVIOUX: I grew up as a fan of science fiction. A kid who loves monsters, science fiction movies.

He knew it would be hard to make a career out of his love of science fiction. So he decided to focus just on the science.  He graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C. with a degree in Microbiology. But his love of science fiction never waned. He soon found his way onto film sets and even writing screenplays, eventually creating the Underworld concept.

KEVIN GREVIOUX: Underworld broke, then I was able to do other things that I really liked. I broke into writing for Marvel Comics and DC comics. 

And now, so many years after Underworld hit the screen, he has a new creation.

KEVIN GREVIOUX: After doing Underworld I wanted to take a crack at Frankenstein. I think that you know when you start looking at monsters, at least as I did, you start looking at what they were possibly originally intended. I wanted to get at the story that deals with the monster instead of Dr. Frankenstein. 

It would seem that you have to have really thick skin when creating something, because often someone else is going to put their own spin on it. I asked Kevin about that.

KEVIN GREVIOUX:  I wrote the first screenplay, Stuart wrote the last one. He’s the A-list writer, I’m not. So you know those type of politics are endemic within the industry. But you have to understand it’s the process…it’s a collaborative process. Do you want to see your project see the light of day or do you want it to sit in a drawer? People are going to take your work and turn it into something that they understand. 

The person brought in to take Kevin’s vast world and hone in the story was screenwriter and director Stuart Beattie. He was able to mesh classic characters with action in both Pirates of the Caribbean and GI Joe. I wondered where it all began for Stuart.

STUART BEATTIE: I was going to be an archaeologist when I was four. And then I saw Star Wars when I was six and just kind of lost myself in movies. Then Raiders when I was 10, and that was archaeology and film. Then I remember it was Ghostbusters. I was 14, and it was the first time I’d actually stayed to watch the credits. I asked someone, ”Who are these people?” They were like, “Well that’s the people that made the movie.” And I was like, “That’s a job?” And they’re like, “Yeah.” Pretty much from that moment on, I was like,“I gotta be in the film business. I’ve got to do that.”

Being a filmmaker was always the goal because that’s obviously where you have the most control and the most say over things. You get to tell the most stories. And I’ve always loved telling stories.

I did a three-year degree. I had to have a fallback job. My parents made me choose something. So I did a broadcast journalism degree in Australia, the second year of which I got to be in Oregon, which to me was like Hollywood, because I was living in America.  That’s where I first wrote Collateral. That’s where I first wrote Pirates of the Caribbean. So I started writing screenplays there. I got books on it. I got scripts out, read scripts, that kind of thing.

Now Stuart has finished I, Frankenstein, and it’s been 3 years since he walked into the doors of Lakeshore to start the project. This is a pretty big undertaking, so I asked if he felt a big sense of responsibility about the project.

STUART BEATTIE: Yeah. In many different forms, in many different ways. The number one, probably though, was being responsible to Mary Shelley’s character. She created this character, so my main job throughout the development, the shooting, the post and everything, was to keep that character intact…to keep a guy who is alone in the world, and is angry and bitter about it, and is looking for a purpose, looking for some reason to be. That, to me, gets to the essence. And he’s terribly alone, and feels there’s no one else, that he’s never going to have anyone in his life. That’s what makes that character so great. So protecting that all through the development, all through the shoot…all that kind of stuff. That was probably the biggest responsibility. But then, there’s also the sheer practical financial responsibility of shooting a film with this much scope and ambition to it, for that amount of money, and in that amount of time. Every day you’ve got enormous pressure just to make your day. You cannot afford to miss a day when you’re as small as we were. You just can’t afford to do it.

The final product is an action packed, supernatural special effects fest. I’ll save my review of the film for another time, but I did have the privilege of seeing the film prior to screening. I had to sign a NDA and not talk about what I saw prior to its release, and from what I’ve read, there have been limited screenings for the press prior to the release. There are various reasons a studio does this. We’ll see if the tactic pays off after its release.

It was a great pleasure to talk with Kevin and Stuart – both huge fans of their craft.


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About the Author

Born and raised in Dallas, Mark has been a movie critic since 1994, with reviews featured in print, radio and National TV. In 2001 he started the Entertainment section of the Herorealm website, where he contributed film reviews and celebrity interviews until 2004. After three years of service there, he started Bigfanboy.com, which has become one of the Dallas film community's leading information websites. Bigfanboy hosts several movie screenings in the Texas area, and works closely with film and TV studios and promotional partners to host exciting events and contests. The site also features a variety of rare celebrity and filmmaker interviews, and Bigfanboy.com regularly covers the film festival circuit as well. In addition to Hollywood reporting, Mark has worked for many years as an advertising and sci-fi/comic book artist. Clients have included Lucasfilm Ltd., Topps Trading Cards, The Dallas Mavericks and The Dallas Stars. From 2002 until 2015 he managed the Dallas Comic Con, Sci-Fi Expo and Fan Days events in the DFW area. He currently catalogs rare comic books and movie memorabilia for Heritage Auctions, and runs the Dallas Comic Show conventions, but remains an avid moviegoer and cinema buff.