By Paul Salfen
For those that have attended Fantastic Fest in Austin – or any festival that Nacho Vigalondo has attended, it’s hard not to immediately love the guy. Full of manic energy and a true love for film and entertainment, his excitement is contagious. After gaining a following with Timecrimes, Extraterrestrial, and Open Windows – as well as segments in the anthologies The ABCs of Death and V/H/S: Viral, the Spanish director faces his biggest release yet, aptly titled Colossal. Starring Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, and Dan Stevens, this is the biggest cast the director has worked with to date and certainly will open the widest of any of his films. In fact, it’s got quite a bit of buzz. After making the rounds at Fantastic Fest, Toronto International Film Festival, and SXSW, the film is finally receiving a limited release this week, followed by a wider release next week. And while the film appears to be a traditional monster movie, there’s a much deeper meaning in there, which Vigalondo is happy to see people catching in there.
The writer-director, who also turns 40 this month, has been enjoying quite the ride with this release. He says proudly, “So far it was been receiving really nice really nice reactions and really nice discussions, which I appreciate. It’s so cool.”
AMFM Magazine: We’ve seen this gain traction at Fantastic Fest, TIFF, and SXSW – you must be proud to unleash this one on to unsuspecting audiences now.
Nacho Vigalondo: Yeah, it’s very exciting. On one hand, you’re terrified because one part of you wants to make movies for everybody and to satisfy people in a large number but the other half of my brain gets really excited trying to apply this formula to play with the expectations rather than play for them. So yeah, it’s interesting. I have this Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde situation in my brain.
AMFM: And we also get to see Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, and Dan Stevens in a way we’re not used to seeing them.
NV: Yeah, yeah. It’s also impossible when you write a movie like this that you’re having this kind of cast, it’s not part of your ambitions because if that’s the case, you would just be crazy. When you write this kind of stuff – imagine me in my flat [laughs], you don’t picture Anne Hathaway playing Gloria because that’s way beyond your craziest expectations, so the fact that this happened, it’s for me the ultimate gift to everything I’ve done to this point. It’s like my whole life is an alternate reality and I’m somewhere living a kind of “Black Mirror” episode. [Laughs] I actually live in the year 7000 and this is actually a simulation that I made for myself.
AMFM: I love it!
NV: Wouldn’t it be great to have the experience of a Spanish weirdo suddenly having to work with A-list actors in his movies? Wouldn’t that be great? OK, here’s a screener of that. Enjoy it.
AMFM: There’s a theory that the creatures in this movie don’t actually exist and this is just her dealing with her problems, like addiction. Is that the way you saw it?
NV: Oh yeah, from the very beginning I wanted to make a movie about real monsters. Like early, my sense of impulse was trying to make an affordable way to make a monster movie. Everything came later. I never wanted to play the monster stuff that doesn’t share the reality elements of the movie. I wanted to make a movie about monsters destroying buildings for real even if it later works as a metaphor for the characters. I wanted the characters to be aware of everything. The monsters almost act as allegories, the characters are not aware of what the monsters represent, but in this case, the monsters let the characters know literally what they represent.
AMFM: Some people have even viewed this as a feminist film. Do you see that as well?
NV: If you’re talking about a villain is a guy that gets really angry because he feels entitled to have a relationship with a woman and that woman simply doesn’t feel she owes nothing to him, – I mean, from the very beginning you are defying the science of expectations of the movie painting something with a feminist layer. I actually understand that. This movie is not trying to make any kind of comment. It’s not trying to judge monster stories but somehow it’s having some thoughts on the mechanics of the romantic comedy. I understand that those betrayals to the romantic comedy tropes can be judged as feminist for some audiences.
AMFM: We’ve seen you at Fantastic Fest plenty of times and you’re always so fun to be around I can imagine the set was fun. Is there a day, scene, or time that stands out to you?
NV: The whole shooting was a walk in the clouds. Everything was enjoyable – beautiful and so easy to me. When you’re dealing with Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis, you’re dealing with really clever comedians. I don’t remember anything too funny…but there was one scene where we’re filming a chase in the third act early in the morning. Everything was looking beautiful but went to the trash according to some laws in that district; we couldn’t step out of the van. So we had to shoot everything without leaving the van – our cameras, everything, the whole team. The only people that were allowed to be outside of the van were the actors. So if you were to see the whole thing from a distance, you would see Anne Hathaway and some weirdos shooting her from inside a van, which was really creepy. [Laughs] We had to reinvent the whole sequence based on the new camera angles not leaving the backside of the van. I feel the result was really cool coming from our limitations. I couldn’t believe that. If someone was crossing the street, he couldn’t see the cameras or the microphones. You would just see a van and Anne Hathaway running.
AMFM: This is one that many more people will get to see on the big screen than some of your other films, which is exciting. But this one needs to be seen on the big screen anyway, right?
NV: Oh yeah. Of course, of course. When you’re dealing with big monster stuff, even from this particular point of view, some parts of the movie – and I don’t want to spoil which ones – are really made to be seen on the big screen. I’m just asking the screen to be bigger than the person watching it.
AMFM: Well, now that we’ve seen this one, we’re excited to see what you’ll do next. Can you share what that is?
NV: Well, all I can say is that I’m writing. I don’t know if it will be coming to the big screen. I’m reading some stuff that is coming to be and choosing some properties. So far I don’t know if my next movie is going to be a micro budget experiment or Captain America vs. Han Solo. I have no idea.
AMFM: Do you feel the pressure to make bigger films now?
NV: I don’t feel the need to make bigger films each time. That is not my objective. I understand those kind of careers – filmmakers making movies that are bigger and bigger and bigger. That is amazing if you are happening to find stories that are bigger and bigger and bigger by this big cosmic coincidence. But I swear that if I find something that comes to my mind that’s smaller than Colossal, I will make it.