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Feature: Stardust

Poster image We join British director Matthew Vaughn in the edit suite for his intriguing new Fantasy adventure. And we didn’t touch anything – honest…

British film-maker Matthew Vaughn is tired and waiting for the pick-me-up of some tea and toast; but, when it finally arrives, it’s almost surplus to requirements. Vaughn shakes off his fatigue with an injection of energy that comes from his sheer joy at providing Film Review with a tantalizing glimpse of his new lavish fantasy adventure, Stardust.

At this stage, the film – with its glittering cast that includes Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Claire Danes, Peter O’Toole, Sienna Miller and rising British star Charlie Cox – is still being edited, and the deal is that Vaughn will show us a couple of scenes of this, his most expensive project as a director, to give a taste of things to come. But once he sits behind the edit room’s computer controls, Vaughn can’t resist revealing much more than was promised and showcases half an hour or so of sequences from this adaptation of the Neil Gaiman novel about a young hero who, after vowing to retrieve a shooting star for his sweetheart, finds himself on an adventure in a world of witches, ghosts and sky flying pirates.

Vaughn smiles when it’s noted that, after he made his name with hard-edged gangster films – as the producer of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch and then having a hit directorial début with Layer CakeStardust seems to be a very different and perhaps surprising choice. “At the end of the day films are all fantasy,” says the film-maker. “My job is to tell a story and that is all I care about… whether it is a horror, comedy or action film… as long as there is a story being told I know I can do the job.

“And Stardust is far more me, believe it or not, than the other films. My favourite movies do tend to be gangster movies, and I am Scorsese obsessed, but I never thought I would be making gangster films. I will probably end up doing another gangster film sometime in the future, probably way off, but [Stardust] is Midnight Run meets The Princess Bride! I have been saying that since day one but nobody understood that – though now they are getting it.”

The idea of bringing Gaiman’s Stardust story to the big screen had been mooted for some time. Indeed, Tom Cruise and Harvey Weinstein had owned the film rights to the book and had spent years trying to adapt it into a screenplay but couldn’t get it right, and eventually the rights reverted back to the author. Vaughn, who had been unaware of Gaiman’s work, got involved after he was sent the book and was immediately hooked.

“I don’t want to sound arrogant, but when I read the book I had a movie in my head,” he explains. “So for me the only problem was getting it out of there and on to the page. I threw a lot of the book out and, to Neil’s credit, he did not complain. The third act of the book wasn’t good enough for a film. It didn’t have the action.”

by John Millar

There are more interviews from the movie in
Film Review (Oct)

Photo © Paramount Pictures
Feature © Visual Imagination 2007. Not for reproduction

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Film Review (Oct), see below for ordering options
Film Review (Oct)
#688, October 2007
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