By Larry Carroll
Nov 15 2007
‘I am a kid in a candy store,’ first-time director says of unlikely potential blockbuster.
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — You have more objects in your living room than are present on the massive soundstage housing the production of “Will Eisner’s ‘The Spirit.’ ” The director is a Hollywood newcomer, on the verge of his 51st birthday. Samuel L. Jackson is wearing a black-and-white fur coat, with similarly colored eyebrows to match. Welcome to the set of Tinseltown’s most unlikely potential blockbuster.
“This is the only way I have been trained to direct, and I love it because it brings [directing] closer to the art of the page,” Frank Miller explained this week, moving from his “Sin City” co-directing apprenticeship to his very own Home-Depot-size warehouse drenched in green. “I am a kid in a candy store.”
The candy store is called “Will Eisner’s ‘The Spirit,’ ” based on a 67-year-old character and the decades-long friendship Miller shared with its creator. Eisner may not have lived long enough to see actors like Jackson, Eva Mendes, Scarlett Johannson and Gabriel Macht bring his eccentric characters to the silver screen, but Miller still feels his presence every day.
“I was just 13 years old when I came across Will Eisner’s ‘The Spirit,’ published by Jim Warren, and was blown away,” the graphic novelist-turned-filmmaker remembered. “I thought it was somebody new to comics, because it was so far ahead of anything else coming out. I felt it, religiously. There was one night when I picked up the latest issue of ‘The Spirit,’ and I was so excited, I had to stop by a lamppost in Vermont where I lived and read it on the spot. That was the Sand Saref story, which is now the basis of this movie.”