Doug Liman Explains Why He Left ‘Gambit’: ‘I Never Formed a Connection’
Fox’s Gambit movie seems perpetually stuck in development hell, occasionally offering hope in fits and starts as directors and actors sign on and then leave for greener pastures before production ever gets underway. Channing Tatum is still on board, but the film, once again lacks a director. Doug Liman, who took over the project for some time after Rupert Wyatt left, recently explained exactly why he decided Gambit wasn’t for him.
Asked by Collider why he left the film, Liman explained that he “never formed a connection” with the character.
Many of these movies, I don’t have the connection on day one, but I find the connection. I just never found it. I don’t always find a connection. I want to make a movie that, if anybody else made it, it would be different. When I went to make Swingers, I showed the script to a friend of mine, and she said, ‘Why would you want to make this movie? The Trent character’ – who was played by Vince Vaughn – ‘is totally unlikeable.’ I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I love Trent! That’s the reason I’m making this movie!’ She was like, ‘You’re crazy! He’s totally unlikeable!’ And then, I made the movie and she saw the movie, and she was like, ‘You’re right, he is likeable.’ And then, I went to make Go and I showed the script to the same friend, and she said, ‘I don’t know why you’d make this movie. Nobody in this film is likeable!’ Right in that moment, it clicked. I was like, ‘I get it! I need to make Go, for the same reason that I needed to make Swingers. Somebody else making Swingers might have made Vince Vaughn’s character into an asshole and been judgmental about him.’ My specific take on that character is what the audience then took away, so I knew that I needed to make Go because my version of Go celebrated those characters instead of being judgmental of them. I knew that everybody would like those characters because I liked them.
He realized while making Go that that kind of connection to the character was essential to the way he likes to make movies.
Ever since Go, I’ve looked for that personal connection where, because of the experiences I’ve had in life, if I tell this story, it will be fundamentally different than if any other director tells it, even if the experience I’m talking about is the previous movie I’ve made. My version of Mr. & Mrs. Smith would be fundamentally different than any other director’s version of Mr. & Mrs. Smith because I just made The Bourne Identity. I made a movie that celebrated someone being an action hero, and no one else is going to have had that experience, going into Mr. & Mrs. Smith, to then reject it and choose to embrace the exact opposite. That’s part of what didn’t click for me on Gambit, in finding that unique way in.
Gambit is one of the more fun X-Men characters, and Channing Tatum is a great actor who is obviously still passionately gunning for this project. Hopefully it finds a director soon who is able to connect with the character and the way that Marvel and Fox make their movies.