What is your favourite vacation spot and why?
Well, I have several favourite ones, but since I'm in Australia I should say that because I once got away up to Queensland, I found that really great. [I] don't remember the exact spot but there was some wonderful yachting and snorkelling. I like combinations of places, like European destinations. London is a favourite; New York's fantastic; Los Angeles; Hollywood seen enough of that for a while. What's the perfect vacation? I think I'll go with the sun; I'm open to suggestions though.
Have you done much travelling around Queensland?
I worked here once in 2001. I made a film called the Quiet American
and went through Vietnam, all the way from Ho Chi Minh City to Danang, Hoi An to Hanoi from south, all the way up to the coast; beautiful and shooting a film there by an Australian film maker. That being Phillip Noyce; he's a pretty fearless guy. We got into some amazing spots and locations.
That's the cool thing about being in this line of work. Half the time, the location work takes you to places you wouldn't normally go, or know to go, or think to go to, but in the case of working on The Mummy, we shot on location for all three of the pictures. The first two were in the desert of Efhoud and Morocco, doubling for Egypt, and there's not a whole lot out there except sand and rocks at first glance, but if you look closer you see the villages and kasbahs and there's a lot culturally, and it's so much more interesting. [But] the thing about it is, you've got to get up early, otherwise you miss the dunes, the shapes of them it's as flat as a pancake once the sun comes up but just [at] the break of dawn, amazing, amazing.
Shooting in China was remarkable, we were based in Beijing and would work in small cities, the names of which I can't remember to pronounce properly, but also at the Shanghai studios. And when we weren't there, we were in another place called Tianmo, and it was a little bit closer to, I think it was called Wonshu. I'm getting it wrong probably, but it was closer to a mining community and there were deserts, so in the film, for the epic battle sequence at the end, we were on location in this desert, which in reality was used by the army for tanks manoeuvre training. They were off duty at the time we were shooting there; yeah, it worked out great for everyone.
Do you have travel tips?
Number one travel tip: pack light. You can usually find a toothbrush if you forget one; I guess that's two. Leave yourself open to something random to happen stay spontaneous, that's what I think.
What do you never leave home without?
A credit card.
What was the best thing about making the third instalment?
That we got to make them was the best thing. I didn't know if we were going to get the call to do this picture. The first two were bookends of one another. Six, seven years passed and now, [in] its eighth [year], here we are, and it's set in China, in Shanghai, and it is exciting that we did actually shoot there with Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh [and] Australia's own Luke Ford introducing him, his first big picture, good on ya mate!
What else could I tell ya … we had a really exciting experience because it's the largest picture that had been shot on Chinese soil in a co-production; a Western and Chinese picture that's a huge undertaking and for that, there can be anywhere between 800 to 1200 people a day working, [so] that's a large cast and crew and it made for a unique experience to say the least. It really shows in the movie, too.
There's something about when you go on location, the authenticity of a place, and it's an element to the movie and [something] you just really can't find by emulating it with an image, given that in this point in cinema, if you can imagine it, you can create it. I mean, trust me, I came of age during the last 10, 12 years when CGI has been home to a place where, like I said, it can be on the screen and it seems to become less difficult to create and more commonplace to see. It's so seamless that you don't seem to see the homework that goes into creating that kind of imagery. But it's something that you can never really get away from and that's the real organic quality of going to the place [where] you're telling the story.
So, obviously you enjoyed China?
Yeah, we did well there, sure. I think we've got an exciting film to prove it, too.
How was it working with Australian actor Luke Ford?
Great, nice guy, good guy. I'm proud that he had the courage to step up and say, "Yup, I want to do this, screen test it." He got the part, deserved it, made the role interesting, fashioned it, played to his strengths and it felt good [to know] that also I'll use myself as an example interesting things are going to happen for him now as a result of this career. What I'm trying to say is, when you're in a film that has been accepted as being popular, it's going to afford many other opportunities and it's going to change his life; many people's lives. I'm happy for him for that because it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.