In this week’s EW feature on naked movie fight scenes (”Buff and Tumble”), Beowulf coscribe Roger Avary (Pulp Fiction) explains that his onscreen hero had to be in the buff, because that’s how Beowulf was depicted in the original epic poem. But it turns out that this wasn’t the only reason a computer-generated Ray Winstone is shown fighting the monster Grendel without clothes in Robert Zemeckis’ CG-animated movie (in theaters this November). Here, Avary reveals his other inspiration — a generously endowed gent named Den — and confirms that, despite all this clotheslessness, Beowulf is a family film. Sort of.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Were there any concerns that the MPAA might have problems with you depicting a naked Beowulf?
ROGER AVARY: When I wrote it, I envisaged the character of Den in the Heavy Metal comic. Den was a character by Richard Corben, who was easily one of my favorite artists. [Den] was this muscular guy with a gigantic schlong. He would always go into battle and beat the hell out of people, totally in the buff. He never wore clothes. That kind of stuck with me. I love it when somebody takes something like a fight — or really any event — and twists it to the point where you’re naked doing it. Also, there was a proud tradition of berserkers going into battle naked. It just shows how fearless you are. I don’t know about you, but if someone came at me, like, ”Aaaaargh!” naked, I’d be, ”Whoa!” Had we done it [like] Richard Corben’s Den, the MPAA would have had huge, huge problems. As it is, I think the movie is going to have to achieve a more tempered rating. I don’t think that we’re going to be [seeing] Beowulf’s gigantic, you know, baby’s-arm-holding-an-apple-sized schlong onscreen. However, because this is performance-capture, it’s not inconceivable that, at some point down the road, they simply re-render, widen-out shots, move things out of the way and put together a hard-R or NC-17 version of the movie.
I have no idea whether you’re joking or not.
I’m actually being totally serious. Because the data is just captured off the actors’ performances, you can, years later, return to that very same data, and make modifications. If Zemeckis, five years from now, says, ”God, it’s really bothering me, I wish that there was a wide shot here, or I wish we had covered from this angle.”
Or if he wants to see Ray Winstone’s 8-inch schlong.
I didn’t say 8-inch! That’s your fantasy. I said, ”a-baby’s-arm-holding-an-apple!”
Just to be clear, though, Beowulf is a family movie, right?
Oh, yeah, absolutely. It’s a family movie written by one of the guys who had his hands in Pulp Fiction. So, it’s a family movie — but beware.