Brett Ratner is one of Hollywood’s most powerful directors, who can flit effortlessly from the crowd-pleasing Rush hour films, to the likes of Red Dragon and even an X-Men. Despite the image that he poked fun of in a recent episode of the TV series Entourage, Ratner is a serious filmmaker who takes his job seriously. Ratner talked exclusively to Paul Fischer.
Question: Was it frustrating for you to wait to to get Chris Tucker to come on board and get everything in play?
Ratner: No, because I was doing X Man, I wasn’t thinking about Rush Hour when I was making X Men. It wasn’t like, “Oh, my God, I got to do another Rush Hour,” because I was doing other movies in between. It wasn’t like a desperation. Jackie was doing five movies so we weren’t, like, sitting around not working waiting for Rush Hour to happen, you know.
Question: It seems to me that since the first Rush Hour movie you really evolved as a filmmaker. Was it important for you not to look at this as being a step backwards in some way?
Ratner: I mean, normally, if I was a filmmaker who just did Rush Hour and then went ahead and did a couple of movies like Red Dragon and X Men, it probably would be a step backwards, but because I created the franchise, I’m out of it. I love doing them. Even if I’m doing movies that are winning Academy Awards one day I would still go back and do Rush Hour just like Sipielberg goes back and does Indiana Jones 4.
Question: Do you think this will be the end of the franchise?
Ratner: It’s very difficult, I think it gets harder and harder to do. I might have one more in me, but beyond that, I don’t know. Lethal Weapon made it to four, so maybe we can do it, but it was after years and years of hard work.
Question: Where would you go in Rush Hour 4 if you follow that train of thought, if you go from partners to friends to…?
Ratner: Brothers to lovers. [Laughs]
Question: Are you surprised that you’re as successful a filmmaker, on the A list that you’ve become over the years?
Ratner: I never thought I was going to be this successful. I knew I was going to be making movies all my life. I never thought they were going to be this big, so I’m proud of it. I mean, I’m proud that my movies are making money and people are enjoying them. I think of the critics that are snobs and the filmmakers and the actors appreciate a good movie no matter what the genre.
Question: Are you worried about the reviews?
Ratner: Oh no. On this movie? I swear I’m not even going to look at them on this movie. This movie is not a review driven movie. It’s an audience pleaser and anything that’s an audience pleaser is usually not review driven.
Question: Now your next movie is this really interesting biopic that you’re doing.
Ratner: Well I don’t know if it’s next but it’s one of my next movies, on Hugh Heffner.
Question: And is it going to be like a comment on contemporary sort of celebrity culture and sexuality?
Ratner: I don’t think so. It’s more about what effect Hugh Heffner had on the sexual revolution, and how he was one of the creators of the sexual revolution and what effect it had on our culture. Most people just know him as the guy who owns Playboy and he doesn’t realise what he did by putting Lenny Bruce on TV for the first time ever, in regards to freedom of speech and in regard to civil rights, putting a black entertainer on television before anybody else and having black and white people dance together. So there is so much stuff in his fight for first amendment rights. So there’s a lot of stuff that Heff did that some people today don’t know. They just know ‘Oh Hugh Heffner, the old guy with the pipe that owns Playboy’, you know. They don’t know his true value or his true worth and that’s the purpose of making a movie today, so people can recognise what he’s done in the past.
Question: Now I love your little bit on Entourage. Did that give you a taste of being in front of a camera?
Ratner: It gave me a newfound respect for actors because I can definitely say lines as if I’m playing myself, but when the camera’s on me it’s almost impossible to know what to do. It’s like when the camera is on me listening to another actor, when I’m listening to Johnny Drama, that’s like the hardest part of acting is listening. It’s crazy.
Question: Do you relish poking fun at your image? I guess, that have been either manufactured or have been heightened about you in the press?
Ratner: Oh yeah I was just having fun with it. Everyone who knows me knows I don’t do drugs, I don’t drink. I have a serious girlfriend. I’ve dated some girls, but so has everybody else. I just happen to be in the public eye but otherwise I’m a pretty normal guy. I mean I have a disco in my house yeah, but I didn’t put it there, as it was in the house when I bought it. I’m very serious about my work.
Question: Do you think the Heffner film will be next for you or do you think you’ll take a break now?
Ratner: I think I might do the Eddie Murphy movie probably next, depending on which comes first. But Eddie Murphy came to me with this idea to do a movie with all the comedians, with Chris Tucker – like this is his dream team – we haven’t gotten these actors yet, but Chris Tucker, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Jamie Foxx in one movie. And they all work in the Trump Towers, blue collar workers and one’s a door man and one’s a security guard and one’s a janitor. And they rip off the Trump Tower.
Question: Will the entire budget be these guys’ payday?
Ratner: No because we’re going to do it the way that Ocean’s Eleven did it, where they created deals or something.