Fernando Meirelles on turning down 'James Bond', not belonging in Hollywood

Bedika K

Mumbai, Oct 24 (PTI) 'City of God' brought global fame to Brazilian filmmaker Fernando Meirelles and Hollywood came knocking but the director says he resisted the temptation of making a spectacle film as he never felt at home in Los Angeles.

Fernando revealed he was once offered to direct a James Bond movie, which he turned down and backed away from Tom Cruise's 'Collateral'.

'I was offered 'James Bond' but I said no. Why would I make a James Bond? It's a lot of work. It's not part of my culture or something I'll be personally interested in. The biggest interest in James Bond was maybe the fee,' Fernando told PTI in an interview.

'But I have enough money to live, I don't need... It's a matter of knowing what you want in your life. I didn't see any temptation there,' he added.

The British spy franchise wasn't the first film in Hollywood that he was offered. Fernando said he almost got on board to helm 'Collateral'.

'I said yes but then I quit. That's when I decided not to be a part of that world (Hollywood). I used to go to those parties and see people around, they treated me very well and were paying me well, but these were not my people. I don't care about what they think and don't want to be in a party with them. I thought, 'let me go back home'.'

Since his ascent as a prominent filmmaker, Fernando has directed several acclaimed films, such as 'The Constant Gardener', 'Blindness' and more recently the Netflix film 'The Two Popes', starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce.

The 63-year-old director, however, is aware that no matter what, his projects will always be under the shadow of 'City of God', which depicted the growth of organised crime in the Cidade de Deus suburb of Rio de Janeiro.

The 2002 film, shot with locals serving as the cast members, put the Oscar-nominated filmmaker in spotlight, enough for Hollywood to approach him with lucrative projects.

'When 'The Constant Gardener' released, everybody was talking about 'City of God'. I thought this is going to be now a part of my life. Nothing that I will do, will get this attention. I thought, well, that's okay, let's just face it.'

The film is considered a cult and is often hailed for its unusual structure and screenplay.

This, Fernando said, is due to the complex 1997 novel of the same name by Paulo Lins, which they had to adapt for screen.

'The film is very different from the book. If you read the book, every two-three page is a different story with a new chapter. Every new chapter has a name of a character and it tells different stories, like you're reading a short story. Sometimes one character that you've seen three four stories ago (comes back) and it's quite complex.

'There were so many stories and interesting characters but it wouldn't work for a feature, might work for a TV series. We had to choose which characters we wanted in the picture and create a storyline for them which isn't in the book. We created all of that. You can say the film is a recreation of the book.'

Fernando is now gearing up for the release of 'The Two Popes' which will be streamed on Netflix this December. PTI JUR BK

BK