CAPONE Director Josh Trank On Casting Tom Hardy And Taking Creative Control After FANTASTIC FOUR - EXCLUSIVE

Chronicle director Josh Trank is making his filmmaking comeback with Capone, and we recently caught up with the filmmaker to talk casting Tom Hardy, taking back creative control, Boba Fett, Venom, & more!

After helming 2015's Fantastic Four reboot, Josh Trank walked away from big budget blockbusters and went back to the drawing board with his filmmaking career. Now, he's back and in top form with Capone, a film which explores notorious gangster Alfonso Capone's final year. 

We loved the movie (you can read our review by clicking here), and shortly after watching it, we were able to talk to the director about everything from casting Tom Hardy, to the Boba Fett movie he was attached to, and whether he hopes to maintain creative control over future projects.

Capone is available on all major VOD platforms now and, as you can tell from our review, it's well worth checking out. Having covered both Chronicle and Fantastic Four in-depth here on CBM, it was great to finally talk to Josh, and we can't wait to see what he does next. His passion for this film is clear, and his honest answers provide some fascinating insights. 

We want to say a huge thank you to Josh for taking the time to talk to us in what was an exceptionally busy press day for the filmmaker, and hope you enjoy both this interview and Capone!


Hey Josh, how's it going?

It's going good...I kind of feel like we've known each other for a long time, but we've never talked on the phone and I didn't know you were based in the UK!

Yeah, I know we've talked a couple of times on Twitter in the past about Fantastic Four, but it's great to be speaking to you about Capone, a film I watched earlier today and loved, so thank you for taking the time to have a chat with me.

Thanks, Josh, that means a lot, man. It's funny because I've been reflecting a lot after reading the Matt Patches piece. You know, I didn't ask for any sneak peek of what he was writing and I just wanted to read it when everyone else did. It makes me think about how as a film community on Twitter, we all Tweet at each other, but we don't really know our human personalities in a way that before the internet, people got to know each other in a way that was much more personal. So, it is really great to talk to you on the phone. I was really looking forward to this.

I know I've changed a lot five years on, and when I think back to some of the things I may have Tweeted or written about [Fantastic Four] at the time, I realise now after reading your story that there is more to these things than meet the eye. When you say these things, and I think this applies to a lot of people, you need to know the full story. It was great to finally hear that from you. 

In my own social media career, I really try to think a lot more about whether I have a snarky response to people or an opinion, and it's always good for me to remember that it's not just a Twitter account. There's a human being on the other side of that, and I feel like we've all gotten to this point of madness in the era of the Coronavirus where everybody is at home, and it's a combination of people having these personal growth moments...or they've gone the complete opposite direction and have gone completely insane!

[Laughs] I know exactly what you mean. Despite all that craziness, this is obviously an exciting week for you with Capone coming out, so I wanted to start by asking what about Tom Hardy made him the right choice for this project?

The first movie that I worked on was a film called Big Fan written and directed by Robert Siegel. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. I edited and produced it, and it's something I'm really, really proud of. We made the movie in 2008, and we were lucky enough to get into the Sundance Film Festival, and while we were there, the main thing that I was excited about was to see this movie that I was obsessed with this: Bronson. [The trailer] was out for four or five months before the festival, I knew it was going to be premiering at Sundance, and I couldn't stop thinking about it. I went to go see it, and it floored me. I couldn't move afterwards. His performance was one of my favourite screen performances of all-time. How brutally naked and vulnerable he allowed himself to be, while also engaging in these high level theatrics you don't really see in most performances like that. He's the kind of actor where he's in that prestigious category, and he's on that level of all the greats, but he does something very unique with his skills in that he goes to these really, really risky theatrical, broad places that I think would terrify a lot of more prestigious actors. It was so inspiring to me. He's been one of my all-time favourite actors since I saw Bronson. 


What did it take for you to actually get him to star in the movie? 

When I was writing Capone, which as I'm sure you know had been called Fonzo for a long time, I always dreamt of it getting into Tom Hardy's hands someday. A few months after I had written it, we were trying to figure out how to get it set up. It came down the pipeline from Tom Hardy's agent, who had read the script, that Tom had a possible opening for that coming spring and Tom's agents felt strongly that this would be a script he would love. So, they asked if they were okay to send it to Tom, and I was like, 'Are you kidding me?' In my heart, I just didn't want to get my hopes up because I had never met him and had no idea if he would resonate with it. Also, this was not that long after Fantastic Four came out, and I just assumed he would read the script and even if he liked it, he would think that I was some sort of, you know, idiot, and just toss it into the waste bin. Why would he ever want to work with someone like me?

Low and behold, he read it on the day he got it, and the next day, I was on the phone with Tom for about five or six hours, no exaggeration. We just clicked instantly and, as you know because you've seen the movie, it's a film that while it is about Al Capone, it's more about a person who is suffering from the trauma of a life he doesn't connect to any more. On a psychological level, it really hit all the points of something Tom would want to engage with. His interest in wanting be part of this was instantaneous, and he looked at it as the kind of challenge that terrified him to his core in a way that also gave him that adrenaline to want to prove he could do something like that which I think he always done with his roles. We just clicked right away, and I was on cloud nine because he's one of my favourite actors and I just admire him so much. Tom is also genuinely one of the sweetest, most respectful and kind-hearted human beings I've ever met in my life, and so down to Earth, the whole aura of Bane and Bronson and all of these intimidating characters we know him for, it just went away and this was Tommy, who is just so talented and encouraging of other artists.

The whole Fantastic Four thing to him just didn't ever enter the equation; he had never seen it or Chronicle and goes by his gut. I respect that so much and based off our conversation, and him hearing how I wanted to shoot it, I saw that we were both compelled by the same risky kind of challenges that either work perfectly or fail perfectly. We had an artistic connection with each other right away. 

I know your time is limited today, so on a slightly different note, I wanted to ask what you could possibly tell us about the Boba Fett movie you mentioned in that Polygon piece? Was it an origin story, a story set after Return of the Jedi, or..?

The simple answer is, I signed so many NDAs that there would be no possible way I could discuss that in a responsible manner. What I would say is that as a filmmaker, why I'm so excited to be talking about [Capone] and why I'm so excited about everything going forward as opposed to where I was when I was working on Boba Fett and Fantastic Four and all of these other extremely high profile, very secretive projects, is the fact that I'm not a very secretive person by nature, and when you're working on those kinds of movies, you're not allowed to talk about anything you're doing.

You also know that everybody who loves these movies and loves what you love, they want to know about what's going on and you want to talk about it so desperately because you want to share that with everybody and you don't want to close yourself off from the community of fandom that you relate to. There's no way I can talk about any of that stuff, except that it was something that obviously I was so excited about. The fact that all of the people at Lucasfilm I had the honour to work with for a little over two years are really close friends of mine to this day. We had so much fun together. The people who work up there in San Francisco are just the most creative, cool people I had ever gotten to work with before I started working on Fonzo.

I'm also really intrigued by the Venom movie you pitched to Sony. Can you talk about what that on entailed?

It's funny [Laughs], because that came full circle. When Tom told me he was going to do Venom, I was like, 'I was going to do Venom!' [Laughs]. That was something I was really excited about. About a month after Chronicle came out, because I was doing all these general meetings with everybody, I met with Amy Pascal and the senior executives at Sony. It was a really cool meeting and Amy Pascal is really sweet and everybody there is really cool. They loved Chronicle and wanted to find a project that made sense, and Amy brought up Venom out of nowhere. I'm a huge fan of Todd McFarlane in general and Venom was just a character I've always loved. I immediately thought about The Mask. This could be like a really cool synthesis of everything about The Mask that I loved, but infused into the lore of this iconic Marvel character.

We were off to the races, we made a deal for it, and I was really excited. I brought on a very good friend of mine Robert Siegel, who was the writer and director of Big Fan, and he's somebody who was a mentor of mine when I was much younger. He was also the original editor in chief of The Onion, a genius and somebody you would love to talk to. He has a great mind. Something he is great at is tapping into the most uncomfortable sides of a character portrait, but I definitely miscalculated being within the studio system with that kind of aesthetic. I thought this was an opportunity to make something really character-y, uncomfortable, and break ground in terms of having this super nuanced uncomfortable character story with the branding of a massive four quadrant superhero film. We turned in the treatment, and they didn't like it. That kind of says everything, but the irony is that Tom ended up doing it later on.

And have you had chance to watch Venom yet?

I still haven't had the opportunity to see it because I've been working on Capone as the sole editor, and I've been working on my own Tom Hardy movie this whole time and didn't want to have any crossover with what they were doing. The fact Tom and I are so in sync with each other, it makes sense he would go into that using the perfect Jim Carrey as The Mask template type of character for Eddie Brock and Venom. I'm so happy it did as well as it did as it's cool to know everyone loves Tom Hardy for that, and he's one actor out there who's really gonna go there while at the same time having real bona fide potential as an action star. It's so rare.


After what happened with Fantastic Four, how important was it for you to write, direct, and edit Capone, and is that creative control something you hope to do on future films as well?

Yes and no. What I really set out to do with this in equal measures was to show the world who I really am without a committee involved, and at the same time, find a way for me to engage myself as a filmmaker that I had never gotten the opportunity to do to see what I'm made of. It was a really educational process for myself and I got to know myself more than I've ever gotten to know myself in my life while editing this film. When you're the editor, and I used to work as an editor before Chronicle, I edited other people's features, you're mainly looking at the footage that doesn't work and the things that don't connect, and that's what you're noticing. As soon as I'm done directing and I'm editing, I'm saying, 'Okay, what did this idiot director do?' [Laughs] It was interesting, and I ultimately ended up having more good stuff in the movie than I even had time to put into the film. That's not to say there's a longer cut of this movie that would be worthy anybody's time because when you're cutting together a movie, you need to consider the pacing of a film as well as how much of the material within the film you want the audience to enjoy and be sucked into. But if you're giving the audience too much of a good thing, it can be overwhelming and numbing and take away what really works and is important in a story, the core character journey inside it. 

To answer your question as far as whether I want to do that every time going forward, my answer is that I'm not entirely sure. I would love to do stuff like this again absolutely, but because I did Capone in this manner, I feel comfortable and confident going forward that whether you love Capone or hate it, that is totally none of my business, as filmmaking is a subjective experience and film watching is a subjective experience, and I wouldn't want it any way. But anyone who loves Capone within our business or other artists who see the film, they know that's who I am, the whole movie is me. Obviously Tom and everyone else, but my voice as a filmmaker is right there, and if anyone wants to engage with me going forward, I feel comfortable that I would be working with the kind of people who want to make the same kind of movie that I want to make which is ultimately what I've always wanted. It's not about me having to do all these jobs because I'm a control freak. I am a control peak just like any of us, but what's most important to me is to work on something I'm passionate about in a very specific way, and Capone is a very specific kind of a movie, so finishing this has allowed me to go back into the world in a much more comforted and open-minded way.

Awesome. Well, thanks to much for talking to me again, Josh. I can't wait for people to see this film! 

Once a ruthless businessman and bootlegger who ruled Chicago with an iron fist, Alfonse Capone was the most infamous and feared gangster of American lore. At the age of 47, following nearly a decade of imprisonment, dementia rots Alfonse’s mind and his past becomes present. Harrowing memories of his violent and brutal origins melt into his waking life. As he spends his final year surrounded by family with the FBI lying in wait, this ailing patriarch struggles to place the memory of the location of millions of dollars he hid away on his property.
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