'Watchmen': A Chat with Director Zack Snyder

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Your current cut of the film is about three hours long. I'm guessing it's going to have be shorter.
Everyone wants it shorter, and I'm trying to help them. Warner Bros., they're my partners, and I want to give them a movie that they feel like they can get behind. But there's going to be a point where I'm going to be, ''Look guys, I can't cut that. It's not Watchmen anymore.'' You can't make it into something else, you really can't. It's not Fantastic Four, it's got to be hard R, it's got to challenge everyone's ideas. When they say, ''You should be less sexy and less violent,'' I say, ''But that's Watchmen.''

About the violence: You have a scene in your movie where Dr. Manhattan incinerates a bad guy — and your camera dotes of the bloody, chunky aftermath. That's pretty intense for a superhero movie.
That's Superman gone bad. If Superman grabbed your arm and pulled really hard, he'd pull your arm out of your socket. That's the thing you don't see in a Superman movie. But in Watchmen, what you get is, like, ''I'm a Superman, and I really want to help mankind — but I just tore this guy in half by accident. People call me a 'superhero,' but I don't even know what that means. I just blew this guy to bits! That's heroic?''

Alan Moore has disavowed any film version of Watchmen. Did you try and reach out to him at all?
That bridge had been burned before we got involved. Maybe it's a good thing — he probably would have talked me out of it. Alan's a genius, and his book is a genius. If my movie is an advertisement for the book, great. If it's anything else, then I f---ed up. I hope people see the movie and go, ''I gotta read that book,'' because the ideas are crazy. ''Can those ideas possibly be in that book?'' Yeah — and a jillion other ones that I couldn't even get near.

Are you nervous about going to Comic-Con this year and appearing before all the fans who hold the comic as sacred?
I'm nervous but really excited. I feel like there has never been a movie more custom-made for that crowd. Not at this scale. Comic-Con fans have become the gatekeepers of pop culture. You test these movies there. So I'm going to go down there and say, ''Hey, what do you guys think?'' If they're going to go, ''What the f--- is this?'' that's fine! That's part of the process. A genre fan, a comic-book movie fan, is worth 20 normal fans. They blog, talk, buy. For them, a movie is a life experience. The special piece that I've cut for Comic-Con, it's designed to let them know that I care about this book. I hope that amidst all of the hyped-up superhero movies that are down there — and I'm sure there are good movies amongst them — Watchmen will be seen for what it is: pure, completely unspoiled, certainly the lesser of all the evils.

Originally posted Jul 17, 2008

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