HOLLYWOOD — Every few years, a dubiously motivated sequel comes along that builds up as much hatred as it does prerelease hype. Sometimes these films turn out to be suckfests, like “Basic Instinct 2″ or “Son of the Mask.” Other times they win us over, like “Casino Royale” or “Rocky Balboa.”
These days, cameras are rolling on a controversial revisiting of the 2001 cult classic “Donnie Darko,” which will star Elizabeth Berkley and “Step Up 2: The Streets” actress Briana Evigan.
“Right now I’m filming ’S. Darko’ in Utah,” Evigan beamed when we caught up with the Best Kiss winner at the recent MTV Movie Awards. “Chris Fisher is the coolest director.”
Fisher, a TV director who has previously overseen episodes of “Chuck,” “Cold Case” and “Moonlight,” may in fact be cooler than Fonzie smoking a cigarette at a Jay-Z concert. But that still doesn’t make him Richard Kelly, the filmmaker who wrote and directed “Donnie Darko” and has unequivocally disowned Evigan’s film.
“This is a sequel to ’Donnie Darko,’ and it’s so crazy,” she explained of the movie, set seven years after the original. “It’s basically about going back in time and changing something. My character is named Corey — she’s a selfish, badass kind of girl. She ends up switching a moment in time to take her life — [to help] somebody else, her best friend. It goes into all different dimensions, but it’s really about turning something around for somebody else, and being able to go back and have another chance.”
In the original flick, it was Donnie who had all the fun. This time around, the characters of Corey and Donnie’s little sister, Samantha (a returning Daveigh Chase), will be on a road trip to Los Angeles, and both will be harnessing the hallucinations and time-travel abilities that once plagued Samantha’s older brother.
“I have the power too,” Evigan explained. “I’m [Samantha Darko’s] best friend. … In ways, with me and her, it’s like two girls on a road trip. It’s a really cool, fun script. But it’s darker, and I hope everybody understands it.”
Calling the script “very twisted,” the 21-year-old actress also said that “S. Darko” will interact with the events of the original film, à la the “Back to the Future” sequels. “We just come back [in time] and change what happened in the first one.”
In addition to Kelly, the film is progressing without any participation from “Donnie Darko” stars Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore or Jena Malone. One character that does return, however, is Frank the giant rabbit guy.
“Yes, and it’s really cool-looking,” she said of the imaginary character. “It’s scary.”
Nevertheless, many fans of the original are up in arms over the sequel, as is Kelly himself.
“To set the record straight, here’s a few facts I’d like to share with you all: I haven’t read this script. I have absolutely no involvement with this production, nor will I ever be involved,” the writer/director recently posted on his MySpace page. “I have no control over the rights from our original film, and neither I nor my producing partner, Sean McKittrick, stand to make any money from this film.”
When reminded of Kelly’s comments, Evigan said, “That’s fine. We’ve got new people working on it. We have a great cast, a great director, a great producer. So, I think it’s going to be fine. We’ve just got to make it work with our acting, what we’re doing, and hope everyone enjoys it.”
Insisting that “filming’s been going great,” the “Step Up 2″ star added that when “S. Darko” is finished, she hopes Kelly will go see the movie and give it his stamp of approval.
“That’d be cool,” she reasoned.
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