INTERVIEW: Steven Grant Talks 2 Guns

2Guns_Steelbook_2D_FrontComic book movies are all the rage nowadays, but it’s become uncommon to see a non-superhero movie come from comics. But, 2 Guns from writer Steven Grant, artist Mat Santolouco, and publisher BOOM! Studios broke the mold and made a bit of money in the process. With the success of the movie and its upcoming release on Blu-Ray and DVD on Dec. 9th, writer Steven Grant was kind enough to answer a few questions about the comic, how it came to be a movie, and how his expectations were met.

Geek Syndicate: You’ve had a career in comics that’s spanned three decades and given you the chance to work with Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Boom!, and more. What about comics has been so enjoyable that you’ve stuck with them for so long?

Steven Grant: I do love the juxtaposition of art and text that you just don’t find anywhere else. It’s a medium that has always captivated me. But I have to say in my case it’s mainly been inertia. It’s a sad truth that once you get associated with one thing it’s just easier to keep plugging at that one thing, and unfortunately when you work in “the arts” – I use the term loosely – you have to keep an eye on where your money’s coming from. Comics have always been much nicer to me than I deserved, so they ended up being home. Plus while I have no problem writing prose I don’t especially enjoy it. Comics, despite their aggravations, are just more fun.

GS: While many of the characters you’ve worked on for the Big 2, like Punisher or the Avengers for example, have landed on the big screen, how does it feel to have one of your personal creations like 2 Guns be adapted into a movie?

SG: Wonderful sums it up nicely. What’s most wonderful is while they changed the story around a little, everyone involved (but I have to give special mention to producer Adam Siegel, screenwriter Blake Masters and director Baltasar Kormákur) went out of their way to stay very close to my sensibilities on the project. When it’s your baby, and I wrote 2 Guns out of thin air when nobody wanted anything to do with it, you lose the level of detachment you feel with something someone else created that you worked on. I may have shown Marvel how to make The Punisher a saleable character instead of a third rate nutjob, but I really didn’t do anything that wasn’t already inherent in Gerry Conway’s original. I just sculpted it a little and lit the path. 2 Guns,  I built with my own two hands. That someone liked it enough to turn out the movie they did, this isn’t a field especially fraught with sense of accomplishment, but I got a sense of accomplishment out of that.

1175995 - 2 GunsGS: 2 Guns, the comic, was first published in 2007. What was the process like that took the story from comic to movie over the course of six years?

SG: I’d written it several years before Boom! published it but nobody wanted anything to do with it. I was regularly told it was completely uncommercial, a recurrent theme in my career. Somewhere along the line I mentioned the story to Boom! founder Ross Richie – he remembers it, I don’t – and when he founded the company he asked if I’d ever done anything with it. I hadn’t, and he really wanted to publish it so I figured what the hell. Ross had spent the years since his employment at Malibu in Hollywood making a lot of connections, and he thought 2 Guns would make a great film, so for the next few years while I sat at home doing other things he hustled it like a mad dog all over town. Curiously, when it was serialized as a mini-series nobody wanted anything to do with it. Any other publisher probably would’ve stopped throwing good money after bad and dumped the thing at that point, but Ross collected it in trade and another curious thing happened. As soon as it was a book,everyone wanted it. It ended up in a bidding war. Universal came in with the best deal. I’m not sure where Marc Platt’s production company entered into it, but that became the main production company, working with Ross, and they brought in Blake Masters to write the screenplay. Universal loved the screenplay, it hit the annual list of top unproduced screenplays in town, and that helped bring in Mark Wahlberg and David O. Russell, fresh off The Fighter.

For whatever reason, Russell ultimately decided to do Silver Linings Playbook instead, but I guess Mark just really dug the project because he became absolutely tenacious with it. Everything’s about the package in Hollywood now, and nothing helps kick a film project along like having a renowned screenplay and a hot bankable star. I don’t want to slight anyone else, because an awful lot of people worked very hard to get the movie done and out, but if I were to have another child I’d probably name him after Mark. He did so much to keep the film alive, and there were a few dark days there as is pretty common with movies, he found financing when they needed more, he brought in Denzel Washington, he brought in Baltasar, he was just determined to be in 2 Guns. He’s a steamroller. Then suddenly it was premiere night.

It’s interesting to see Hollywood from that perspective. People are always asking why Hollywood doesn’t make better movies (I would say they did, but of course I would) but the real question is how any movies ever get made at all. It’s such a process, paved with pitfalls.

2Guns_DVD_3DGS: Great actors like Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg were attached to 2 Guns when it was adapted into a movie. How happy were you with the end result and how well it adapted the original comic?

SG: When I finally saw the film, at the screening, all I could say on my way out was that I couldn’t think of a thing I’d change. I still can’t. Like I said, they changed the story a little but it kept my sensibilities completely intact. It has my fingerprints all over it. Even if I’d had nothing to do with it, it would’ve still been my favourite film of the year. It was almost exactly what I wanted it to be.

GS: With the success of 2 Guns at the box office, even debuting at #1 on opening weekend, is there a chance of the sequel series 3 Guns also finding its way to the big screen?

SG: I’d guess relatively good odds. You can never tell with Hollywood math, and that’s what it comes down to, but Mark has talked with both Ross and me about it, Baltasar has mentioned it in interviews. There’s interest. People will be in a better position to assess the situation after I’m done with the comic. I have six pages to go.

2 Guns comes to Blu-Ray and DVD on Dec. 9th. The DVD can pre-orded on Amazon and the original comic series can be purchased from BOOM! Studios.

Reporter: Leo Johnson

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