Freaking Out: Bryan Singer on Jack the Giant Slayer

Reflecting on 20 years of filmmaking and the new technologies at his disposal.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

This was one of those interviews I really didn’t think was going to happen. It was a long shot request, Bryan Singer by phone for Jack the Giant Slayer while he was already tweeting from the set of X-Men: Days of Future Past. But one morning last week I got a call that Singer had a one hour window that afternoon if I was available. That must be how Woodward and Bernstein felt when they met Deep Throat, right? Giant Slayer is an action-adventure fairy tale using elements of Jack and the Beanstalk, but adding knights and princesses and epic battles. It is Singer’s eighth feature film since he began with 1993’s Public Access if you can believe that, so we reflected on his career in cinema and ultimately got around to his return to X-Men.

Jack the Giant Slayer Nicholas Hoult

Jack the Giant Slayer opens on March 1 (USA), March 21 (AUS) and March 22 (UK).

CraveOnline: Is it weird that you’ve become known for these big visual effects movies?

Bryan Singer: No, not now. I’m used to it but in the beginning it was strange making the first X-Men movie. I remember being 50 days into production and looking in the mirror and saying, “Wow, you’re 50 days into production on a visual effects movie.” It’s like a crash education, but now I kind of have the hang of it and I’m always looking to explore new kinds of effects work that I hadn’t done before which is a big reason I did this movie.

What was the process of changing the title? It was originally announced as Jack the Giant Killer, right?

Yeah, I think there was always a feeling that the word “killer,” for a family film was a little abrasive. Killing is something that’s very contemporary. Slaying is something one does to dragons and giants so we figured that it would return the film to a more mythic title. It’s probably no surprise it happened after that terrible tragedy in Colorado. It was always going to be changed, I think. It just happened to happen after that.

But it was that late in the process?

Yeah, it was that late in the process. In fact there’s advertisements out there, our first teaser is Jack the Giant Killer.

Was just straight Jack and the Beanstalk ever the title?

Hell no. That would be a disaster. Jack and the Beanstalk is a very specific story of which we take inspiration from. In other words, we have a beanstalk and we have giants, but other than that there’s really no relation. And a character called Jack, but we’re a very different story from that.

In this current wave of fairy tale movies – we’ve had Red Riding Hood and Snow White and the Huntsman – was Jack and the Beanstalk your choice for reinvention?

Yeah, absolutely. When I signed on to do this, signed on to develop this, I wasn’t aware of any [others]. This was five years ago. There weren’t any of these fairy tale movies at the time, so I’ve seen them evolve, seen some try to go really dark, some try to be more traditional or try to have a modern twist on it, and I felt we’d come up with a really solid adventure with the tone of a fairy tale. I wanted to keep that tone and not try to deviate and not try to make something different or radical but just embrace it and have fun with it and know that the giants will be cool and the story will be fun.