Brett Ratner is milking his status as a young directing prodigy for all it’s worth.
During a recent interview with the 35-year-old director of New Line’s Nov. 12 release “After the Sunset,” the words he used most frequently were: youthful, hip and fans.
Occasionally pieces of the Caesar salad he was eating issued forth as well. But being within close range of romaine lettuce shrapnel is worth it, if only to see firsthand that even a guy like Ratner has a few chinks in his armor.
“I was always jealous of Paul Thomas Anderson because he was like, ‘Oh, I’m friends with [Stanley] Kubrick, and I’m friends with Jonathan Demme and all these directors.’ And I was thinking to myself, you know, one day I’m going to make an important film, and these guys are going to be my friends, too,” Ratner says.
“And the weekend that ‘Rush Hour’ came out [in 1998], I got three calls. One was from Warren Beatty, who said it was his favorite film of the year, then Jonathan Demme, who, ironically, I directed ‘Red Dragon’ after [Demme kicked off the Hannibal Lecter franchise with ‘The Silence of the Lambs’] and then Roman Polanski. And I was like, you know what? Directors aren’t slobs. They know how hard it is to make a film that works.”
Ratner attributes some of his filmmaking success to his penchant for hiring seasoned department heads, folks like composer Lalo Schifrin, director of photography Dante Spinotti and second unit director Conrad Palmisano.
“I could use the hip, young guys, but I’m all the hip the studio needs,” Ratner says. “I want a guy who’s done 30 movies, so if I’m stuck — I mean working with Dante is like taking a math test with a calculator. I go, oh, wow, why didn’t I think of that? I like to try to figure it out myself, but working with Dante and these guys, I just feel like I can do anything, like I’m invincible.”
Ratner shot down recent rumors that “Rush Hour 3” is flailing because the talent deals for Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker are too expensive.
“No, we have deals,” Ratner says. “The deals are done from what I understand. It doesn’t mean I’m going to make the movie next. I always have three or four movies in development, so when I’m done I can just jump into the one that’s closest.” Ratner suggested that “Josiah’s Canon” is still cooking behind the scenes, too.
Whichever project he ends up directing next, the populist voice inside Ratner’s head appears to be speaking to him more loudly than the voice in pursuit of Oscar glory.
“I’m not going to turn down an Oscar, but I’m not strategizing for one,” Ratner says. “I’ve been offered ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ — Oscar-worthy movies. But I have to make sure I can put myself and my sensibilities into it. And the other thing I’m really thinking about is selling popcorn at the end of the day. I love that feeling of going into a packed theater.”