Frank Darabont's Brilliant Pitch for a New Conan the Barbarian Movie

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Yesterday we premiered the first taste of our amazing exclusive roundtable interview with legendary movie poster artist Drew Struzan, director Frank Darabont, and Being Human's Sam Witwer, with an update on Darabont's Godzilla.


Now here's another helping of Darabont news — including his vision for a new Conan the Barbarian movie, and updates on his TV show starring Walking Dead's Jon Bernthal.

Watching Your Work In Front Of Your Friends

Do you guys watch each others projects together? Frank and Drew, do you guys watch Being Human together?


Frank Darabont: I do watch Being Human. I will not watch it with Sam, he keeps talking through the it. I never have to solicit Sam for telling me stories about the shoot or about the content. I can't shut him up.

Drew Struzan: We all have the same experience, but it is really insightful and wonderful because I watch it emotionally. Then [Sam] explains about the writing and acting, it opens up a whole new vista for me, because that's not where my mind goes. I really, really enjoy it. I like actors because they are the opposite of me. He's big he's loud, and I'm just the opposite, I love it.


Is it hard for you to watch your work in front of others? Frank, do you give a running director's commentary when people watch your films together (because that would be awesome)?

Frank Darabont: I'm one of those people — unless it's tragically bad, unless it's like Showgirls bad, I really can't have people talking around me. As a kid I would go into a movie theater by myself, because I really wanted to focus on the movie. Once my attention is on that thing, I don't want chatter. I want to concentrate on the movie.


On The Newly Re-titled Lost Angels

Sam Witwer: Frank recently showed us a wonderful pilot that he did... We all went into Frank's screening room and the next thing I know he says, "OK, enjoy" — and then leaves. And we watch, and then he comes back and we talk about it. But boy, he doesn't want to be there during the experience.


Frank Darabont: No, there's no point. For one thing, I've been in an editing room with the darn thing for a few months and every frame is now printed on my brain. I don't want anybody's reaction to feel stunted because I'm in the room. I want to be able to pick your brain afterwards. And my take away from that was very valuable. It was an in-progress pilot, my takeaway from that was that it needed to tighten up a little bit still, the cut. Since you guys saw it, I pulled another two minutes out of it. Now I feel that it's landed on its feet and is where it needs to be. It's the equivalent of the test screening — but they're not strangers, they are your nearest and dearest friends. And you get that feedback and it's very valuable.

Is this for the new noir series you are currently working on?

Frank Darabont: Yes, it was going to be called L.A. Noir, based on the book by John Buntin. But the video game company with the video game called L.A. Noire (with an e!) threatened to sue the shit out of me, TNT, every company that actually ever worked in Hollywood. And they have the billions of dollars to back it up, apparently. So we're changing the title, and I do believe the title is going to be Lost Angels. This is being announced right here. It's a very, very cool show. It's [set in] 1947 LA and it stars my very dear friend Jon Bernthal, whom I worked with on The Walking Dead who is now free of that...


Sam Witwer: Shackles?

Frank Darabont: Those Shackles. He's a pleasure to work with like Sam is a pleasure to work with, and other actors that I've worked with repeatedly. I just adore him and god he's going great work.


Sam Witwer: He's right for that role, because he has a timeless quality. Not a lot of actors have a timeless quality. I've watched Bernthal and thought, this guy really does have that. You need that for something that takes place in the 40s, you need actors that can inhabit realistically that time period.

Frank Darabont: He projects this effortless masculine quality, which we don't have a lot of in movies anymore. He's definitely a throwback. He reminds me of, if you were to genetically mix John Garfield a young Charles Bronson this is the guy he's playing on screen. And it's not an effort for him, he projects this fantastic testosterone without showboating it...


Before we're off the subject of Lost Angels, let me also point out that Simon Pegg, whom I adore, came and played a role for me in this pilot as an American. He plays a stand up comic in 1947. It's not a funny role. It's a serious role. He's laying down a dramatic performance in a flawless, American dialect of the era... People who are Simon Pegg fans will be blown away by what he has done in this. I am his friend, and I've always known he's a very good dramatic actor and I expected great things from him, even my expectations were knocked on my ass by how good he is. So, you have that to look forward to.


On Conan The Barbarian

Sam Witwer: Little Bernthal side story: when you were casting for Walking Dead and I asked, "How is the Shane casting coming, how's that going?" And this was the first thing you said, which is a tremendous compliment, you said, "You know there's this guy, and if I was doing a Conan movie I'd hire him to play Conan in a minute."


Frank Darabont: I talked to Bernthal about that very thing just a couple of months ago. I would still do a Conan movie! It would be an incredibly smart one. Because he could play what we've missed in Conan today on the screen. He's got some wit and he's got some intelligence. He's a canny, wily, brutal guy. Bernthal could play that, he really could...

How do you make a smart Conan movie?

Frank Darabont: You go back to Robert E. Howard, there's a lot of heart there and a lot of mysticism and a lot of questing and yearning in that character... How do you make a smart Conan anything? You do what Dark Horse did with their series of comics. They went back to Robert E. Howard, and they have one of the smartest adaptations of Conan. And that's how you do it smart, it's been done.


Drew Struzan: I did some drawings of Conan 2, they didn't use them, it was too smart.

Frank Darabont: [Joking] He was reading a book!

And that is just another taste! The full audio will be released very soon.