Comic-Con Panel: Aeon Flux

Aeon Flux Creator Peter Chung, Producers David Gale and Gale Ann Hurd, Director Karyn Kusama, and actors Marton Csokas and Charlize Theron.

Moderator: Iíd like to go down the panel and ask each one of you how you became involved with the film and what drew you to the project.

Peter Chung: I created ∆on Flux back in 1990, when it was a segment of shorts on Liquid Television on MTV.  In 1995 it was extended it to a half-hour series.  Pretty much soon after that they started talking about a live-action movie version.  And itís been that long, since about 1996 that this has been in development.

David Gale: Weíre MTV Films and 10 years ago when I started at the company this show was on the air. It was the most phenomenal program Iíd ever seen and that we should make it into a movie.  Ten years later weíre working on it.

Gale: I was a huge fan of Peter Chungís Liquid Television animated series.  When David Gale approached me and said ďthis is something we should bring to the screenĒ I jumped at the chance.  Iím thrilled to be here and have this become a reality.

Karyn: I was just lucky enough read an incredible script, an adaptation of the series. I thought it really captured the sort of weirdness and spirit of the series.  I was very, very lucky to get this opportunity.

Marton: Well I had the good fortune to see the animated series.  I thought that was astounding and wondered why the hell were they going to make a film adaptation out of it? It was a fine piece of work. And then I met Karyn, it had a very good script. And [I] was assured that we were going to draw from intentional devised and other men in conjunction with the Peter Chungís work.

Charlize: I was approached by Sharie Lansing actually and she brought the project to my attention.  Then I had a meeting with Karyn Kusama and Gale Ann Hurd and really loved where they were going with it.  I was looking for something completely different, (this was right after ďMonsterĒ). This kind of [film] was night and day from that for me.  So I felt it was quite a challenge to take on and I was lucky to be a part of it.

Gale: I wanted to say Hello to everybody who came out to day at ComicCon.  As you can see, no one on our panel came in costume. I really wanted to, but my colleagues talked me out of it.  Iím sorry.

Charlize: So thatís where my suit is.

Gale: Itís in my closet.

Charlize: ok.

Gale: On behalf of Charlize, Marton, Karyn, David and Peter I want to thank you for your support of the property from its earliest days on MTV.  Weíre here to share with you this early look at the film ∆on Flux.

Fan Question #1: I was wondering how the characterization of ∆on Flux in the live-action film compares to her characterization in the anime series?

Karyn: The writers tried to find a parallel character ∆on Flux that could be human.  The challenge of an animated character is bringing her to life. I think what we had preserved from the animated ∆on was her recklessness, her kind of instability, her unpredictability and her humor.  She had a very dry sense of humor and a strange practicality despite [having] a surreal quality.  I think Charlize really tapped into that.

Charlize: I think Peter did such a great job setting up this character [that] very easily could be into so many horrible situations. I think the core of who she is and how she thinks what I took away from the anime was that she was questioning authority and always questioning whatís happening around her.  I think when you have a character like that itís fun to play because thereís never just one answer, one scenario.  It lent itself for me to have this character in situations constantly within the linear story to always be very curious, always thinking of where sheíd going, sheís questioning that even.  So that was an element that I really liked.

Peter: Iíll answer that question by saying that during the run of the animated series, I kept reinventing the character.  For example the MTV version of ∆on Flux is very different from the half-hour animate series version of her.  The way she looked changed.  Her agenda changes from episode to episode.  I think 10 years on that re-imagining her and re-inventing her again is very natural for this character.  She is a character who is constantly in evolution.  What she is about isnít based on any kind of set ideology. It adapts to the various situations that she finds herself in.

Fan Question #2: Charlize, this movie looks very sexy and I was wondering how you juggle being so sexy in this movie but remaining such a classy starlet? 

Charlize: That was nice.  I think with the people who are involved, from Karyn to the producers I knew that this was going to be a classy project. No matter how sexual this character is and how comfortable she is with her sexuality, obviously we knew we couldnít go as far with the outfits that Peter had designed for her.  Certain things must be hidden.  We still tried to stay true to that element and the knowledge that sheís very independent, very comfortable within her skin and that she also used that. Sheís not shy about it. Sheís a very strong person.  I think that when you play with those elements of sexuality, if before you know what it is, it makes I really fun. I hope. I mean thatís the only thing that my mother used to tell me.

Fan: You are a classy lady, Charlize.

Charlize: Well thank you very much.  I think I just blushed.  I havenít done that in a long time! <!--page-->

Fan Question #3: This question is for Marton. Iím a fan of Trevor Goodchild from the series.  I was wondering how that character influences your character in the movie.

Marton: I tried to avoid looking at things that were in the series: his downfall and some of the motivation.  But then instead what youíre left with is essentially the foundation of the character.  So it was almost in conjunction with everybody else, taking certain pieces and twisting them and reshaping them and hint to what happens in the story being told in the film.  So it was very much a dry and devised observation of his character.

Fan: thank you very much

Marton: I could go on.

Fan Question #4: During your preparation for this character, did you finding yourself likening to any non-fictional or fictional characters also?

Charlize: I think the most important thing is to find the truth.  I wanted to stay as true as we possibly could to Peterís creation.  And at the same time, like he said sheís constantly evolving.  For me it was finding what her motivation was through the story, not so much based on any particular character aside from the ∆on in the anime.  [It was] more just the female spirit of where weíre going in the future, what weíre going to represent 400 years from now and what that voice is.  Like I said, [Iím] just really trying to come from a real place.  That is always important for me as an actor to not think of it as far-fetched or futuristic.  To me all of this was very real.  The situations that I found this character to be in felt very close and near in our society.  It was more important to be asking questions about what will this female icon represent for women in the future.  I thought she was very strong and I tried to stay true to that.

Fan Question #5: This is for both the actors.  Was it hard playing established characters from a series rather than characters that you get to create yourself?

Charlize: For me itís a little bit of both.  You look at it as a little easier because you have kind of a blue print.  And at times I think that you have to be careful because you can never forget in this art form the outline isnít concrete and you can go so far with a character, with any character.  It is nice to have kind of an outline for somebody and Iíd liked what Peter created. Obviously trying to stay within the same character because I just loved that character, it was so unusual, someone Iíd never seen on film. But yet you mold it like it were a piece of clay and you play around with it.  Youíre open to it. Youíre open to that blueprint and youíre open to whatís going to happen on the day and open to what happens when communicating about the story and the character.

Fan Question #6: Since you have covered the costume and hair being changed I was wondering to the director and Peter Chung why you didnít chose Jonny Lee Miller for Trevor instead of Oren? [audience reacts] Hey, Jonnyís not here to answerÖ

David: Whatís your name?

Marton: Good question.

Karyn: I think when you see the film Trevor and Oren (the character that Jonny Lee Miller plays) sort of act in some ways in some of duel elements of the same entity.  In a funny way the chemistry of Marton as Trevor and Jonny Lee as Oren felt right. Both are absolutely wonderful actors.

Fan Question #7: This question is for Charlize.  With all the worldís problems, plaguing us today:  the war in Iraq, terrorist attacks, famine in 3rd World countries, ethnic cleansing in parts of Africa, I was wondering where on earth did you get that fabulous dress?

Charlize: Itís not a dress.  Itís pants baby.

Fan: [her cell phone rings] Iím sorry, itís my mum.  No, no you cannot talk to Charlize Theron.  She just wants to hear you say ďHi Mom!Ē

Charlize: Hi Mom.

Fan: [still on phone] ok, ok Iíll try to get her autograph.  Thank you.<!--page-->

Fan Question # 8: This question is for Karyn and Peter and also deals with the characterization of ∆on.  One thing that I always find myself liking about the animated character is her moral ambiguity, not just in the sense that she has a dark side but you know that at the bottom sheís a good person, but there are situations where you ask yourself, is she really? There are some seriously immoral or questionable things she does.  I find myself a little worried that in the movie there would be this inclination to make her this traditionally straight-forward heroine that might have some rough edges but would never question what is wrong or right at all times.  Iím wondering if you might allay some of those fears?

Peter: Well sheís a killer.  So that in itself is already morally on the edge. Itís always a question of how you justify her actions which are very often violent.  That was something that I tried to keep up to the viewer to believe depending on the situation.  Sometimes you find out that maybe sheís not justified. But sheís willing to take responsibility for her own actions and for the morality of what they are.  To her being free and having responsibility for her own actions is more important than abiding by a particular set agenda. I established some difficulties that were the driving force behind her actions. I think that aspect of her, the fact that sheís a violent character and that sheís an assassin is something that is very, very prominent in the movie

Karyn:  I would agree with Peter that for ∆on Flux in both the animated series and as Charlize portrayed her, the expression of her free-will is a radical expression of herself. In this particular culture of the film, [it is] the most radical expression of all.  I think in a way she still holds that moral ambiguity.  We see that what makes her ambiguous is that sheís capable of changing.  That she might start or land in a certain black or white ideology but ultimately is capable of moving outside of that and seeing sort of [disease] in the world which I think all of us can sort of strive to get through now.

Fan Question # 9: This question is for Charlize.  What was your workout regimen for this movie?

Charlize:  This is one of the most physical things Iíve ever done.  I had a very short period.  I started in mid-April and for 31/2 months worked out sometimes 6 days a week for 4Ĺ, 5 hours.  And it was loosely based on Capoeira and then I was working with a trainer from Cirque du Soleil to learn gymnastics, and some really, really intense stretching.  I think the first month was the hardest because I had come off Monster and for that entire time, for about a year I hadnít done anything with my body. I had gone and gained 30 pounds.  For about a year and a half I hadnít exercised.  So the first month, I couldnít walk, I literally couldnít walk.  I really didnít know how I was going to get through it.  I broke through it and got better.  Then it became like a drug, I mean I really got a great high from it.  But it was pretty intense.  At the same time it wasnít just about getting my body to look a certain way it really was learning a whole new craft of dance and martial arts.  I started really enjoying it. I had some great trainers who were very encouraging because it was pretty intense.  I tore many things but their back.

Fan Question # 10: Charlize coming off of Monster and doing ∆on Flux how is it different for you? There is a fine line between the Monster character and ∆on Flux because of them both being so dark.  Can you talk a little more about that?

Charlize: For me the journey is always different and I donít try to divorce from the feelings or anything. For me it has to be organic. The people that Iím surrounded by: my director, my actors, the writers all of that plays a huge part for me.  To me, this job isnít one that you do by yourself. You get inspired and influenced by the people you work with.  So you have to be smart in choosing who youíre going to do that with.  For me the biggest thing is to become a sponge. Like you say, some times itís very, very close.  You can look at any character and find the similarities.  I didnít go into this thinking that. I went into this trying to be as much obsessed as I possibly can with this world and this woman.  I tried to cover my bases completely and soak up as much information, ask as many questions as I possibly could, and try to cover every corner and lift up every rug.  Thatís the process I use for every film. You just keep asking questions and trying things out and work with people who are willing to work that way, and encourage that, and push you. As an actor you push yourself to a certain level but itís always great to work with people who can actually push you beyond that.  Itís in the choices that you make. Thatís one of the most important thing Iíve learned in my career: who you work with and who is going to be that person to take you to that next level where you go: ďI could have never seen myself.Ē  I mean Iím pretty disciplined and Iíll take myself to a place where itís disciplined. But to have someone come and take you there is pretty incredible and important.

Fan Question #11:  I have two questions.  I was curious about the process. And Charlize I was curious to know what made you decide to take do this project?

Charlize: It took me a while, to be honest because this was so extremely foreign to me.  I had never done anything in the genre and I didnít feel like an expert in the genre.  It was not a genre that I necessarily thought that I could compliment in the 10 years that itís been in [development].  So it took me a while to sit with Karyn to understand how I was going to service this.  I very rarely jump onto something and go: ďOh my God I know I have to do this.Ē  And thatís usually a good sign for me. I was extremely scared because I knew from what Peter had done with this character that there is a huge following (as you can see).  I wanted to respect that and I wanted to know that I could bring something good towards it. Once I got to a place with Karyn where I understood how she was going to utilize me how we were going to tell the story together then I was onboard 110%.

Fan: I was curious was the process to make the movie, was it difficult to get made?

Gale: No movie is easy.  The key thing is to start with a tremendous, compelling underlying source material, like Peter Chungís animated series. That was a terrific template for us to follow.  On the other hand you have to get the right creative team together: you have to find the perfect writers to adapt the material, a visionary director, the right actors to bring the characters to life, as well as all the behind the scenes personnel.   That includes every film especially a film in which youíre creating a world. Itís a difficult task. MTV and Paramount were really great. To be sitting here today with all that work behind usÖ There are just the editing and visual effects left to go.

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Further Reading on M&C

Charlize Theron Biography - - Charlize Theron Movies -
Karyn Kusama Biography - - Karyn Kusama Movies -