When I meet director Nacho Vigalongo, I’m immediately drawn to his Van Halen-spoof “Von Trier” t-shirt. We sit down on the couch and jump into talking about his latest indie film, “Colossal.” Starring Anne Hathaway (who was pregnant at the time, more on that later) and Jason Sudeikis, the film is an unexpected blend of modern rom-com and kaiju. In our exclusive interview, we talk about his favorite job (which involved dressing up as Norman Bates), his shared interest with Rob Zombie, and a scene that used a stunt double in the cleverest of ways.
If someone walks into “Colossal” expecting a typical monster movie, are you happy to toy with their expectations?
I’m happy and terrified at the same time. The reason why someone likes the film- the unexpected element- is the same reason why someone else will hate it. When you make a movie that doesn’t make people feel at home, out of their comfort zone, it’s a reason for people to feel [offended] by the film. When I was making this movie, I was in a total Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde complex, like shooting a joke that happens right after a really dark moment. I like playing those contrasts, even if it’s going to make people get angry. But, the other side of my brain wants me to make a movie for everybody, something everyone will enjoy. I have these feelings all the time. But, for good or bad, Mr. Hyde tends to win.
You also wrote the film, what was that process like?
In the beginning of the process, you have to feel like a child. You have to wonder, “Wouldn’t it be cool if this happened?” In writing “Colossal,” my first thought was how I could make a monster movie without having a budget. I’m just a guy from Spain writing from his little flat in Madrid, trying to find a way to make a monster movie. I always recommend keeping a level of innocence at the beginning of the writing process.
I’m just a guy from Spain writing from his little flat in Madrid, trying to find a way to make a monster movie.
What was your first job outside of filmmaking?
Hmm, I can’t remember my first job but the best job I had in my life was during college, the summer after my second year. I was working as Norman Bates in a [haunted] house. I was paid to scare people. I had a broom and had to pretend to hit people with it. There is no better job than scaring people.. filmmaking isn’t that different. That’s the kind of purity I want in my movies.
Did that job influence your interest in film, or directing?
I don’t think it directly influenced me, but it was in the key of what I wanted to do in life. One of my dreams in life is to own a spook house and a witch train. One of the American filmmakers I admire the most is Rob Zombie. I love his style! The fact that he hosts these haunted houses every Halloween makes me admire the guy even more.
One of my dreams in life is to own a spook house and a witch train.
Now I may be reading into this too much, but in the movie, the monster pops up in Seoul, South Korea. I thought it was interesting it took place there because Anne Hathaway’s character was battling her own demons in her “soul.” Am I on to something?
You know what, I’m not going to contradict that. I don’t think the filmmaker should be the keyholder to the meaning of the film. That’s my way to avoid answering your question, haha.
Fair enough! I understand that Anne was in her second trimester of pregnancy during the shoot. How difficult was for you as the director?
I was very delicate in the way we made the shot list, especially when dealing with a lot of fights. We would place the camera a certain way and used a stunt double. You remember the scene where she is doing the human burrito (rolling up in the air mattress)? There are two actresses on screen- Anne Hathway faces the camera and then the stunt double is doing the roll and the unroll.
Wow, I had no idea. I bet it was torture for her to pretend to drink too.
Haha oh yeah!