Movies & TV / News

Director of Southland Tales Hoping To Get Dwayne Johnson Back For A Sequel

January 23, 2021 | Posted by Joseph Lee
Southland Tales The Rock

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, director Richard Kelly expressed his hope that he could get Dwayne Johnson to return for his upcoming sequel to Southland Tales. The film was critically reviled when it originally came out but seems to have found its audience as a cult favorite. Here are highlights:

On the new blu-ray release of the film: “I’m very excited that we’re getting a chance to put this new Blu-ray release out there, with the caveat that the Cannes version of the film is not finished. It is an unfinished, work-in-progress version of the film. No one has seen this version of the film since 2006, when it premiered in May at the festival, so it’s this time capsule experience. When you watch the Cannes cut, you can transport yourself back to the year 2006 and see this raw amorphous work of art that we projected in front of a lot of very baffled and confused people. I’m excited to get this out there also as a way of showing people that the finished version of this movie still doesn’t exist yet. There’s a lot of elements in the Cannes version that I think help lead the audience into a bigger story that could be further explored.”

On getting Johnson to appear in the original film: “Well, we were trying to figure out how to cast the role of Boxer Santeros, which was a huge, huge challenge. I believe we had Seann William Scott and Sarah Michelle Gellar attached to the film but we couldn’t make the film without Boxer Santeros. It was an extremely challenging role to cast, because we needed a big star who was willing to play this schizophrenic deconstruction of a movie star having a complete meltdown. It required a courage and a bravery on the part of a big movie star willing to take that plunge.

When I met wIth Dwayne, it was just an immediate connection. He was immediately excited and open and just completely eager to take all these risks and dive into playing this role. It was just this wonderful connection. Getting to sit across from him — I think this was the very beginning of 2005 when we met — I was just blown away by his charisma. I’d seen him in the wrestling ring and seen a few of his movies. It was so clear to me that he was on his way to becoming the biggest movie star in the world, that he had that potential, that he had that charisma. Looking at all his work, and looking at all his performances in the pro-wrestling ring, I could just tell he had this just incredible comedic timing. I just knew that he could do an incredible job.

So, we knew that we had found Boxer Santeros and we knew that there was no other actor who could have ever done it except for him. It was just this wonderful opportunity where he was excited to do something really edgy and provocative and go outside of the wheelhouse so to speak. A lot of actors have their comfort zone where they feel like they’re safe doing specific kinds of roles or genres, doing the specific kinds of movies that studios are comfortable putting them in to make money. This was a much bigger sandbox for Dwayne to play around in, to play this unhinged character, so I was just so thrilled to get him and the movie would not have been made without him. Dwayne, Seann, and Sarah, that was the glue that held the whole movie together, and then we could fill the rest of the cast around them. Yeah, it was a real gift to get Dwayne.”

On his plans for a sequel: “Yes. I’ve been working on a new screenplay. There were these three graphic novels that were published 15 years ago, when the movie came out. In the theatrical version of the film, there’s animation that really alludes to the full six chapters and the events that happen prior to the movie. The existing movie is divided into chapters 4, 5, and 6. There is a chapter 1, 2, and 3. So, there is this prequel story leading up to the events of the film, which I hope to achieve using animation. Then, there’s a whole new level to the story which is Boxer and Christa’s screenplay, which they’re discussing all through the film, and you see throughout the film, that actually takes place in the year 2024. So, there is an opportunity for us to explore the world of his screenplay and the significance of what’s happening in his screenplay, and the additional reality of what that could mean. I’ve worked on quite a bit of new Southland Tales material and we’ve been doing a lot of work to try and figure out how we could pull it off. I’m not going to ever give up on it. I’m going to keep pushing for it for the rest of my life or until everyone gets too old. I believe in the project and I feel there’s a chance for us to really do something much more exciting with it, given the streaming platforms and the long-form storytelling possibilities that exist now, where people are able to have a bigger canvas. We’ll see what happens. But I think I’ve come up with a really exciting new screenplay, and a way to not only do a prequel film but also add additional scenes to the existing film that would really expand the whole story.”

On wanting to get Johnson back: “That’s a whole other discussion that I’m not able to completely address. But I would love more than anything to work with Dwayne again on this project and with all the actors. It’s just a question of, is there a way to figure that out? I certainly hope so.”