SUDBURY STAR/JOM SLOTEK
Let’s make this clear. Director Shawn Levy is not dissing Transformers. But “I did want to make a different kind of robot movie,” the Montreal-born Levy says.
“In fact, what I said to (producer Steven) Spielberg in our very first meeting was, ‘If you just want a robo-battling movie, you already made one. In fact, you made three and you made several billion dollars off them.
” ‘But let’s do something different here, something humanist and more of an underdog tale.’ ”
Something like, oh, I don’t know, Rocky? “There are so many shades of Rocky in Real Steel. I was so influenced by those movies. Growing up in Montreal, my brothers and I would re-enact the Clubber Lang fight in our basement.”
Best known to date as a comedy guy (The Pink Panther movies, the Night At The Museum movies, Date Night), Levy sees Real Steel as the beginning of a major career course change.
“I never planned on building a career in comedy,” Levy says. “It just started happening. But I’ve been waiting, because the careers that I admire are eclectic. Ron Howard, Bob Zemeckis (also a Real Steel producer), Steven Spielberg, always humanist, never cynical, but very diverse genres.
“When Ron Howard was making Splash and Parenthood, nobody was predicting Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind and Frost/ Nixon. So I’ve been waiting for the chance to use new muscles. The phone rang, I asked Steven, ‘Why me?’ And he said, ‘I like your movies, they’re all hits, they always have big hearts.
And I want to see what you do in a different tone.’
“I was likening it to when Drew Bledsoe got injured and (the New England Patriots) put in Tom Brady. You knew that 199th draft pick had been sitting waiting for his chance.”