ShoWest Producer of the Year: Chuck Roven
EmptyAfter building his reputation as a manager and producer, Charles "Chuck" Roven has truly come into his own this year, with a slew of new films, including the Jason Statham starrer "The Bank Job" (Lionsgate); the Tom Tykwer-directed "The International" (Sony);
the Steve Carell comedy "Get Smart" (Warner Bros.); and his highest-profile movie to date, Warner Bros.' "The Dark Knight," a follow-up to 2005's "Batman Begins." Roven spoke to The Hollywood Reporter's Stephen Galloway about his career in film.
The Hollywood Reporter: How did you get into the business?
Chuck Roven: My father was a land developer, and he would buy ranches and subdivide them, and I would go and work on the ranches. The cowboys who worked on the ranches were also the stuntmen on the Warner Bros. television shows. They talked to me about the business, and I went off and was a stunt extra on "Hawaii Five-O" until I did one episode where my face got too familiar. They didn't use me after that.
THR: You were married for many years to Dawn Steel, the late studio executive. How did she influence your work?
Roven: Dawn was the big idea person, and I definitely bought into that in some fashion -- though not entirely, because I continue to make films all over the place. Later, we started working together. I had started a company, Atlas, with (music manager) Bob Cavallo, and after being president of Columbia, she had made (1993's) "Cool Runnings." Notwithstanding the success of that movie, she saw the fun we were having and came into our company. We were happy to have her. We made a deal with Turner Pictures, which was a result of her track record, not mine.
THR: Did that bother you?
Roven: I don't think that bothered me. There was a time when I was called Mr. Steel -- that bothered me a little bit.
THR: When did that change?
Roven: I started to make a number of movies, the profiles of which got higher and higher, when I was making (1992's) "Final Analysis" and had my first big hit with (1995's) "12 Monkeys."
THR: That teamed you with director Terry Gilliam, which was a bit surprising given that he and Dawn had had a bitter falling out.
Roven: He and Dawn did have a conflict on "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" (1988), and there was some aspect of it that required finessing, but Terry likes things that are a little bit twisted. Terry is a very complicated guy, but I can only say positive things about our relationship.
THR: Would you also say that about working with director David O. Russell on 1999's "Three Kings"? He and George Clooney almost came to blows.
Roven: The shoot was difficult, and I know there has been a lot (written) about it, but a lot just comes from misunderstanding. They didn't have a fistfight exactly, and I was the one -- myself and Mykelti Williamson -- who separated them. They were more just pressed up against each other. It was just a misunderstanding. There are all kinds of personalities on movies, and I have been accused of having a temper. I have blown up, and many times when you are in a tense crisis situation, that happens. In this particular situation, we were over schedule, and it was the climax of the picture, and we had helicopters rolling overhead, and it was so loud you could barely hear yourself think. It was a ripe situation for short tempers.
THR: You're facing another challenge now with "Dark Knight." How will Heath Ledger's death impact the film?
Roven: The fact of that matter is, the biggest loss about Heath is a personal loss. We were friends. He was an incredibly talented guy, and we worked together on "The Brothers Grimm" (2005). From a production standpoint, (his passing) hasn't affected us; we finished shooting in November, and Chris (Nolan) was almost finished with his director's cut when he passed.
THR: A lot of people have said that your marketing campaign, which was very centered on Ledger's role as the Joker, will have to change.
Roven: Whatever our plans were, they haven't changed. We've just been waiting for the proper period of time to pass. We didn't want to talk about it while there was a period of mourning. You're going to see we're moving forward with all the plans that we had.
THR: Did you consider changing the release date?
THR: Will the audience still be there for it?
Roven: I think there is no purpose to that kind of conjecture. There's a tremendous amount of people who want to see it as a result of "Batman Begins" and all the elements we have shown, and that continues to be the case.
THR: Are there plans for a third "Batman" in the present series?
Roven: Chris is definitely a one-picture-at-a-time kind of guy. Of course, it would be wonderful if, as a result of how successful this film was, you knew there would be the demand for another one.