Blade Takes a Bite Out of TV
Kirk "Sticky Fingaz" Jones is TV's Blade.
Producer/writer David S. Goyer
is hotter than a solar flash on the big screen these days. While the veteran comic-book (Justice Society of America
) and sci-fi/horror-film scribe (Batman Begins
, Dark City
) is currently working on, among other projects, big-screen takes on The Flash
and Ghost Rider
, it's his new Spike TV series Blade
(premiering tonight at 10 pm/ET), based on the vampire-killer movie trilogy, that we're most eager to talk about.
TVGuide.com: Why did you decide to bring the bloodsucking franchise to TV?
David S. Goyer: We had been talking about it since the first movie was successful. And New Line wants to foray into television, and thought Blade was well-suited.
TVGuide.com: Why now? And why Spike TV?
Goyer: Because of various movies, I just kept getting sidetracked. After the third movie [Blade: Trinity], we started working on the series, and New Line was only interested in it [for] basic cable. After doing Threshold, my short-lived show [for CBS], I didn't see Blade having a presence on network television. We wouldn't be able to push the envelope very far. And I like the idea of a serialized story — 13 episodes instead of 22. Episodic TV doesn't interest me at all. I get wrapped up in shows like The Wire, The Sopranos and Lost. It's hard to do 22 episodes and keep the quality up. It also wreaks havoc on the personal life of a creator.
TVGuide.com: So why Spike TV?
Goyer: The Blade movies usually are among the highest rated whenever Spike airs them. I also like Doug Herzog, who runs the channel. He's a bit of a maverick. It's fun to be the first [original scripted] show on a new network. It's the equivalent of when The X-Files was starting on Fox and The Shield on FX.
TVGuide.com: For the few readers who don't know the Blade films, what's the premise of the show?
Goyer: The premise is that vampires exist and they are the ultimate secret society, a criminal society operating beneath the real world. Blade is a freak of nature, a half-human/half-vampire hybrid with all of the vampire's strengths but none of the weaknesses. He can go out during the day, for example. He's a self-loathing character who hunts vampires. It's a classic premise. The whole notion behind Blade was to turn vampire mythology on its ear, to take it away from the Gothic, staid trappings of, say, Anne Rice. Vampires have always been intriguing, and we always treated them as the cool people. They're sexier and richer than you and me.
TVGuide.com: Where does the series fit into the movie chronology?
Goyer: Nominally, it takes place after the third film, but we constructed it so viewers don't have to have any previous knowledge. We will also be exploring Blade's origins and delving into the past of many of the characters. One of the fun things about vampires is that they're very long-lived, so we can have flashback episodes going back hundreds of years. Here's a scoop: We've added to the mythology in that vampires have racial or genetic memory of the vampire who has bitten them, and have some of their memories. If the biter is 500 years old, you might have memories from 500 years ago.
TVGuide.com: How Highlander of you. What are other changes from the movies?
Goyer: The Blade movies were action-horror movies. On a TV budget, you can't compete with the amount of mayhem, so we're delving more into the characters. But we'll still deliver more action and martial arts than you'd expect. The big change is the basic construct of the show — it's kind of a Donnie Brasco story.
TVGuide.com: How so?
Goyer: Krista Star (played by Jill Wagner) is a new character whose brother ends up being killed by vampires, so she winds up becoming a double agent for Blade and insinuates herself into the vampire crime community. The question is whether she will go to a dark place.
TVGuide.com: You hired Kirk "Sticky Fingaz" Jones to play Blade, the role Wesley Snipes made his own. Why Sticky?
Goyer: We saw hundreds and hundreds of people, and unanimously, we liked him the most. He's not doing Wesley Snipe's Blade; it's better to go in with a different interpretation. We're even redesigning the costume.
TVGuide.com: He seems similar enough, in black leather and shades.
Goyer: He's in the same universe, but he's not trying to ape Wesley.
TVGuide.com: There's a heck of a lot of fighting. Does he do his own?
Goyer: He practices three, four hours a day, and I would estimate he ends up doing 90 percent [of the combat scenes]. He's not super-experienced in martial arts. In the last movie, Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel did a lot of their own fighting and they weren't very experienced either. If someone is naturally athletic and game, you can teach them how to fight. But you can't teach them to act. We decided to cast an actor.
TVGuide.com: What's the biggest difference in working on a TV series rather than a film? Freedom, less money, less time...?
Goyer: Initially there was a bit of reverse sticker-shock. We're operating on one tenth of the budget of feature films, you know. But you're still getting close to feature[-quality] visual effects.
TVGuide.com: A lot of people had high hopes for Threshold. What went wrong? Did it sour you a bit on doing TV?
Goyer: Threshold was a good experience, but ultimately it was on the wrong network. I like going back and forth between television and film. Blade's been a great experience. In fact, I turned in the first four or five scripts and [Spike's] standards and practices said, "You're not pushing hard enough." They want me to push the envelope. That's why we have that opening with that crazy arterial blood spray. It's cartoony and graphic, but you can't see it on network television.
TVGuide.com: So there will be enough mayhem to please the films' fans?
Goyer: That's been a concern of the fans of the features. Will everything be watered down? It's not going to be an R-rated film, but it's not going to be PG-rated either. People will be surprised at how extreme it will be.
TVGuide.com: Will that include sex as well as violence?
Goyer: It will be sexy. One of the things that's great about vampires is that they're very sexual, really depraved creatures. They don't see things as taboo as humans do. That's why people like vampires — they express the sublimated fears and desires that humans have but don't like to talk about.
Next week, in Part 2 of our Q&A with David S. Goyer: the scoop on which other Blade film characters will surface on the TV series, a status report on the Batman Begins follow-up, and the sad truth about why shows such as Threshold and Invasion don't succeed on the small screen.