Frank Miller: A 'Spirit'-ed Q&A

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, how have you modernized The Spirit?
FRANK MILLER: Imagine New York from Houston Street to Bank Street or Jane Street. That part of the city is Central City. [The Spirit] rarely leaves that neighborhood. In fact, he's almost like one of those characters from Mean Streets — he would get lost above Houston. He's such a neighborhood boy. I believe, as in Sin City, in taking the city I love and picking out whatever looked best from whatever decade I choose. So we'll see '53 Cadillacs, and we'll see cell phones.
DEBORAH DEL PRETE: And the costumes are all kind of periods.
MILLER: There's that uncanny hotel scene that looks like it's from 1900.
DEL PRETE: It is sort of timeless. That's what we were going for. This is sort of a neverworld and an everworld. It's New York City, but not quite. It's not quite contemporary but not quite the past.
MILLER: It's mythic New York. And that's what Will drew. He and I really did share two profound loves: One was for New York, and the other was for beautiful women.

And the Spirit certainly liked his ladies. Aside from the love triangle between Sand Saref and Ellen Dolan (Paulson) in the movie, can you tell us about how the other women fit into the film?
DEL PRETE: Oh yeah, everyone's got their moment. You're right — the main story's the triangle — but every one of the girls gets to have their moment with the Spirit.
MILLER: [For example], Scarlett Johansson plays Silken Floss. I looked at Silken Floss and, now, here's this beautiful, really uptight woman [who was a secretary in the comics]. And I was like, she had to have her bad old days. She had to have her crazy days where she got up at 6 at night every day and there was some kind of daddy taking care of her. And that's the Silken Floss that's in the movie.

World War II erupted while Eisner was writing his comic, and now we have this situation in Iraq. Will there be themes of war in this film?
MILLER: Well, there will be an undercurrent in the story about the city. Human beings are naturally and constantly at war, so the same subtext will be running through it, but it's more felt than seen.

You've mentioned that you might borrow specific panels from Eisner's work. Was there any specific source material you used?
MILLER: Sure. There's a street grate you'll never forget. There's a lot of water tanks. There's so much from his books. Mostly the mid-'40s period, which I thought was his peak period, before he started losing interest. The story of the movie is built outward from his original Sand Saref story. I wanted it to be a love story. And I knew it had to involve Octopus and other factors.

What is Octopus doing in this story?
DEL PRETE: [Long pause] Being pretty bad and doing bad things.

But what is he up to in this film?
DEL PRETE: I think the most important thing we could tell you is that he's trying to kill the Spirit.
MILLER: Lemme just add: What does every bad guy want? He wants to live forever.

And the Spirit is, in a sense, immortal.
MILLER: If I say any more, you won't want to see my movie.

Now that you're well entrenched in directing, what is your future in comics?
MILLER: Well, I've got about 122 pages done of my next book. And [making movies and making comics] to me are really the two sides of the same craft. I can't really tell you the title of the book. It's my love letter to New York.

What's going on with Sin City 2?
MILLER: I've written a sequel to Sin City. And ultimately the shape of the project would be to do a trilogy.

There have been rumors that Johnny Depp would appear in Sin City 2. True?
MILLER: No.

And what ever happened to the notion of having Angelina Jolie star in Sin City 2?
MILLER: That was back when it was going to happen a while ago. It's like, everything seems to be in place and then everyone goes on with their lives. But I would love to work with Angelina Jolie.

Originally posted Apr 22, 2008