Interview: Director David Leitch on 'Deadpool 2' and Building Out an R-rated Cinematic Universe

Interview: Director David Leitch on 'Deadpool 2' and Building Out an R-rated Cinematic Universe

He's one of the hottest up-and-coming directors in Hollywood right now, and he's about to debut one of the most anticipated sequels of the summer (and the year). To celebrate Deadpool 2 tickets going on sale at Fandango (you can snag yours right here), we spoke with director David Leitch (John Wick, Atomic Blonde), who in a few short years has built a name for himself as one of the most exhilarating filmmakers behind the action movies everyone is buzzing about. And while he's been kicking around in the stunt world for years -- working on everything from The Matrix to 300 -- Leitch is now among the most in-demand directors due to his ability to deliver action sequences the likes of which we've never seen before.

In advance of Deadpool 2 arriving in theaters on May 18, Fandango spoke with Leitch about how his sequel differs from the original. Plus, what's the deal with X-Force? Who's the villain in the movie, exactly? And what classic buddy-cop movie inspired the relationship between Deadpool and Cable (Josh Brolin), the latter of whom is making his big-screen debut in the film?

Check out our full conversation below.

Fandango: So what's the difference between Deadpool and Deadpool 2?

David Leitch: We wanted to make sure that it was worthy of a summer tentpole movie, and we knew we were going to be wedged in between some big films. We did our best to expand the action, and in a general sense, just make it bigger. In terms of the tone, and the fun and the DNA of a Deadpool movie, you're going to get everything you expect and more.

Fandango: You've carved out this name for yourself as a director who delivers really incredible fight sequences. The staircase fight in Atomic Blonde is an instant classic. What is your "staircase fight" in Deadpool 2?

David Leitch: There's a lot of really interesting action and creative action that myself and my choreography team spent months doing. Look, when you approach action, you always want to approach it from character first and story. I think we really had fun with the characters in this movie, Deadpool with his healing powers, we tried to do some interesting action, and Domino, a new character, with powers like luck of probability, gave us a great sort of palette to make an action scene surrounding luck.

Fandango: As someone who's worked in stunts for a long time, did you attempt anything on this film that maybe you haven't attempted before?

David Leitch: I've been doing stunts for so long that I think sometimes all things are variations on a theme. It's sort of like magic in a sense, where all the tricks are rooted in the basics, but it's like how you put those basics together. I think, again, with a character like Deadpool, it allows you to maybe even subvert those basics, and there's an expectation for a classic gag, but oops, maybe you get something else.

Fandango: A lot of fans are excited about X-Force being introduced in this movie. How would you say X-Force is different from maybe, say, the mainline X-Men group?

David Leitch: I think that X-Force, not unlike Deadpool, have their own sort of a code. There's a real defining line between what's right and wrong, and how to get things done, and sometimes things are gray and you have to fight dirty. I think that the X-Force is leaned into a little bit more of the amoral code, like Deadpool.

Fandango: Are you able to reveal any of the members of X-Force that are in the movie? I have to ask you that.

David Leitch: [laughs] I think we want to leave it a surprise. I know the promotional materials have been sort of like shuttering it out there in a really fun, provocative way, so I'll just leave it at that. I think I want people to come in and really see what we've done with them.

Fandango: Were you given more room to play in terms of the larger X-Men universe? The first movie includes a scene at the X Mansion, so is there more of that kind of tie-in featured in the sequel?

David Leitch: I think because we needed to expand the world, in terms of where we were going to be, obviously on the day and date, but also because Deadpool's got to go somewhere - so yeah, he's part of the X-Men lore. We did find some natural tie-ins, and I think it's really going to be fun.

Fandango: Talk about the relationship between Deadpool and Cable in this movie. Are they enemies? Are they friends? Are they frenemies?

David Leitch: I don't want to get into too much of where it leads, but I'll just say that their dynamic as protagonist/antagonist is sort of classic buddy-cop fare. You have fast-talking Eddie Murphy, and a no-nonsense Nick Nolte sort of vibe that's going on. That is really going to be entertaining for audiences.

Fandango: Speaking of a movie like 48 Hours, did you watch any movies that kind of inspired your take on this film at all? Did you send any movies to the cast? What were you watching going into it?

David Leitch: I think what's fun about Deadpool is you can literally go anywhere. If you looked at the movie influences for this one in particular, like my movie playlist, it would be like Deadpool 1, of course, Jackie Chan, any film from Jackie Chan, 48 Hours, potentially The Notebook. No, I don't know. I mean, because the Deadpool universe is so fun and you end up sort of being able to do anything.

Fandango: What does Zazie Beetz add as Domino? What can people expect from her character?

David Leitch: It's a fun, real fun interesting take on the comic book character in the canon. She adds her own spin to it. Again, you're going to see some great action done by her herself. She went through all of the stunt training that we put our actors through, and she was quite remarkable at delivering action scenes.

Fandango: Not much is known about the villain in the film. How would you describe them? Are you able to confirm if it's Black Tom Cassidy or not?

David Leitch: I can't confirm or deny. I think that there is a ... we want to be clear. Movies have villains of all different shapes and sizes, so I think we have an interesting take on the whole angle of the villain in this movie.

Fandango: A lot of people remember Julian Dennison from Hunt for the Wilderpeople. What can you say about his role and his connection to the larger X-Men universe in this movie?

David Leitch: I'll just say this about Julian - when we were looking for a person to play his character, there was only one name that came to mind. It's sort of a tailor-made character for him. He has incredible acting chops and also comedic chops that we exploit throughout the film, and we're really fortunate to have him.

Fandango: I imagine the sequel's going to be packed with all kinds of amusing references and fourth-wall breaking. Do you have a particular reference that you can tease, that you love, that's a favorite of yours?

David Leitch: It's funny, there's so many. There's so many that are on the cutting room floor, because you do all this improvisation, and you might have three or four versions of one of these moments. You're like, "Oh my God," but you can only pick one to tell the story. I think it'll be a good thing for the Blu-ray extras, to see all the alts that we had and couldn't put in the movie. Some of them actually snuck into the trailers as Easter eggs. How about I leave it at that?

Fandango: You have alternate versions of scenes kind of snuck in trailers?

David Leitch: There might be one punchline that we had three versions for and we loved them all, and only one can live in the movie, so we might have snuck a couple in sort of additional materials that people can discover. Like, "Oh my God, he used to say this, but now he says this." They're not plot changing, they're just really punchlines to the jokes, or pop culture references that Ryan is a genius coming up with.

Fandango: How much of this movie is sort of setting up maybe what comes next, like X-Force? Do you do any kind of world building? Is there a lot of world building in this movie, versus the first one?

David Leitch: There is. In terms of a big comic book movie, maybe not massive world building. We're not going to outer space, and we're not going to Wakanda and discovering a world like that, but we are sort of expanding the universe of contacts and people he may be spending time with in the future, and different incarnations of the universe.

Fandango: I was curious to get your take on that whole Disney/Fox deal. Is it something that you think is exciting for the character of Deadpool? If so, who would you love to see him paired with down the line?

David Leitch: I think it'll be exciting for fans. What I like about Deadpool is I think that the more you can put Deadpool in a box, the more he wants to push outside of it. Pairing him with people that you think would confine him, it's a challenge to be irreverent, and it's a challenge to keep the same sort of subversive nature. I think there's something interesting about that. I don't know. Who would he pair with? Captain America, that'd be pretty funny. I don't know. There are definitely some people. I mean, I'm a fan of that sort of whole Marvel universe. I think you could just throw a dart at a board and put Deadpool next to them, and it would be funny.

Fandango: Do you have any funny references about the fact that you're sandwiched between Avengers: Infinity War and Solo in the movie?

David Leitch: [laughs] I think we might have a couple comments in the film. That would be fun for people to hear those jokes. They're definitely fresh and timely when they come up.

 

Deadpool 2 hits theaters on May 18, and tickets are on sale right now here at Fandango

For more on Deadpool and the exclusive poster you can own when you snag tickets on Fandango, check out our chat with Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld.

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