Last night in New York City, "Priest" director Scott Stewart and star Paul Bettany made an appearance at Sony’s Lincoln Square theater to show some clips of their vampire action flick and do a Q&A sponsored by Fangoria magazine.
While the sizzle reel and two of the clips we saw last night were also shown at WonderCon, we also saw the animated introduction by Genndy Tartakovsky, which was in 2-D.
The super-stylized intro by the artist behind "The Powerpuff Girls" and "Samurai Jack" describes the war between vampires and humans and how the priest-warriors came to be.
Originally shown at WonderCon, the second clip showed Bettany and the Sheriff (played by "Twilight" vamp Cam Gigandet) headed into a gooey underground nest of vampires to shake some info about Priest's missing niece out of their icky human servants. Eventually, the vampires come out to play, and they look way more like H.R. Giger-inspired aliens than the rococo neck-nibblers of yore. There is plenty of Priestly butt-kicking, including a crazy Bible filled with deadly, cross-shaped throwing stars.
The third clip showed the kidnapping of Priest's niece, played by up-and-comer Lily Collins, and Priest deciding it was time to go back to work despite his orders. The sizzle reel showed plenty of dusty Western action courtesy of Priest and Priestess, the ultra-cool Maggie Q.
"We've seen a lot of vampires lately," said Stewart. "Sparkly vampires… and we didn't want to do that. It's kind of more like a war film, in a way, or a kind of after-the-war film, and it was also kind of a science-fiction Western… It was a chance to be able to take a lot of familiar ingredients and make a new recipe out of it, which was exciting."
Bettany said, "I'm a big fan of Scott's. We made a movie before for very little money, and he was given the chance to make a movie with me and three times the budget, and I thought, 'Wow!' To be able to see, to be able to be a part of seeing Scott really realize his vision onscreen and have some really great paints and a much broader canvas was a really exciting idea for me. And I loved the part. It's a big departure for me -- you know, the sort of stoic, the sort of classical, tight-lipped man of few words… The idea to be that tough guy was attractive to me. I haven't had so much fun making a movie ever in my whole life. There's days we sat there just calling for more blood."
Stewart also revealed that the creator of the graphic novel, Min-Woo Hyung, was inspired to continue the "Priest" story after reading a translation of Cory Goodman's script. "[Min-Woo] said, 'I was thinking about taking the story in this direction and this direction,' and it's really similar to where we went with it, and it inspired him enough to go back and write another story, which [was from] book sixteen to where the movies go, "Priest: Purgatory," which TokyoPop released.
"I kind of see the movie [as] kind of a collaboration -- it's kind of a sequel, in a way, to the graphic novel, and I looked at his images and I tried to put as many of those [in the film]… as I could and pay homage to it also in the opening with Genndy's work," Stewart added. "So I kind of see the movie as a collaboration between Min-Woo, Cory Goodman, who wrote the screenplay, and myself, who did some work on the script and pushed the movie even more into science-fiction."
Bettany was really into the Western aspect of the film, revealing that he spent plenty of time as a kid watching John Wayne movies.
"I always wanted to be that guy when I was a boy, so that was the person [that] I was really interested bringing to the screen," he said. "You know, somebody's who really good at hurting people, and now the war's over and what does he do? What world is there left for him? He has been rendered useless for normal life, and it must be really hard not to practice something that you're really good at. Like hurting people."
Similarly, Stewart compared some aspects of the film to "Rambo: First Blood," where the Vietnam vet played by Sylvester Stallone comes back to "normal" life and finds himself an outcast.
"That was a way of using the vampire as a metaphor [that is] very, very different than sublimated sexuality or something like that, which is what you see now in those vampire stories," he said. "They're just this other, this enemy that we fight and we don't even know why."
Planning to check out "Priest" when it hits theaters? Let us know what you think in the comment section or on Twitter!