A ‘Colossal’ Interview with Nacho Vigalondo

A Colossal Interview with Nacho Vigalondo

Filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo defies classification. He’s a sensation that exists somewhere between a contagious laugh and a sinister whisper. He’s a rare element formed by ancient mystics using unknowable alchemy. Nacho is hyperbole personified. Both he and his films exert a powerful gravity that pulls you in immediately.

His latest film Colossal, starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis, is no exception. The film opens in theaters today and I was very fortunate to sit down with Nacho to discuss the film at last year’s Fantastic Fest. The interview was conducted in the aftermath of Nacho’s famed annual Karaoke performance at the festival the night before, which perfectly set the tone for the interview.

Fantastic Fest at the Community First! Village in Austin, Texas on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016. (Photo by Jack Plunkett)

The Ink & Code: Let me start by saying, great job on the Karaoke last night.

Nacho Vigalondo: Oh, you were there? I don’t know, sir. I wanted to get a little drunk before going up because I don’t want to convince people I’m a good singer. I just want to be drunk at Karaoke. Sometimes getting drunk that fast has some consequences … I don’t feel 100% safe about what I did yesterday.

I&C: Ha. Fair enough. What inspired this take on the Kaiju films and connecting self-destructive behavior to city-leveling monsters?

NV: I had this little idea in my drawer. I tend to accumulate these little pieces of bullshit. I mean, an interesting premise is just a premise. That is dangerous, because it can lead into a beautiful film or a stupid film. What I actually need is something that comes after I come up with the idea. It wasn’t until I found out it was about Gloria (Anne Hathaway) experiencing these awesome things and then meeting Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), and how these two characters collide in interesting ways. Then I found what the movie was about and that there was an actual movie there, instead of me just pretending to be clever. If you try to be clever and it’s just that, you can get into trouble.

I&C: The cast was certainly committed and delivered wonderfully. How did Hathaway and Sudeikis respond to the script? Did it take convincing or did they just get it?

NV: I’d love to tell you a story about how I was able to seduce Anne Hathaway to do this and how I was able to convince Jason Sudeikis to play this role using all my seduction shenanigans, but I would be lying. The thing is, I live in this kind of fairy tale because they read the script through their agents and wanted to play the roles … I was ready to make this movie with little money and a small production, even in Spain, but when they came … It was amazing. Anne Hathaway wants to play Gloria? Wooo! Jason Sudeikis wants to play Oscar? Wooo! I’m happy because they’re perfect for the roles, not only because they’re talented in front of the camera but also because the resonance of their names. It’s like Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis are playing a trick somehow.

I&C: Was it a much different experience making this mainstream, American film compared to your previous films?

NV: Well, it was a bit easier than the others. There was a bigger team involved in the shooting, more people helping … but I don’t want to sound like there are big differences. At the end of the day, even if you’re making a short film with a video camera or, I dunno, you’re making Captain America Vs. Han Solo, the focus is “Where should I put the camera and why?” That mystery is the core of the whole thing, so the big difficulties of the shooting are the same. Solving that mystery is 90% of the difficulties of making a film. When I have conversations with young people who want to make films, I always say the same. They are always concerned with the money. “How can we get money to make films?” I say money is the small problem. It’s an insignificant problem compared to the big problem that is “What the fuck am I doing here? Why do I deserve to be a filmmaker? What’s this movie about?” That’s so big that all the other questions are bullshit.

I&C: Going back to the big questions about this movie, how did you decide on the look of the monster and the robot?

NV: We worked with the designers to design both at the same time so we are working with the contrast. When I wrote the script, it was just a monster and a robot, an organic figure against a machine, curves instead of corners, soft instead of sharp. That was pretty clear. Later [the designers] did a good job trying to define two guys that work at that level but are also convincing as what we’ve seen.

I&C: This might be the funniest film you’ve ever made with many laugh-out moments. Any proper comedies in your future?

NV: I’m more attracted to using comedy elements in a non-comedy environment. I love comedy. I love making jokes and I laugh at everything, but if you go to my flat and see my DVD collection, it’s kinda depressing. Lars von Trier, all the Yakuza films, which are all cruel and nihilistic. I’m not into comedy as something that supports itself but, on the other hand, when I’m writing and a funny idea comes to my mind, I can’t stop… I need to push it that way in order to give people a chance to laugh at the film. At the end of the day, it’s not a serious thing… I don’t take myself so seriously.

Colossal is now in theaters in New York and Los Angeles. You can read our review here.