John Woo


Interviewed by Stephen Applebaum

Did you know anything about the Windtalkers before this?

I had never heard about the code talkers or the Navajo people, so when the story was brought to me I was stunned. I even cried. They were so loyal and patriotic, and their language formed a code that was never broken. I thought the story could be told about how they helped to win the war and saved a lot of marines' lives. Young people around the world should know about these people.

Were there particular aspects of the story that appealed to you?

The whole movie is about friendship, my usual thing, and that's what really attracted me. Also, I have made cop films, gangster films, kung-fu movies, even a Chinese Opera movie, plus movies like "Face/Off" and "Mission: Impossible 2". I felt it was now time to do something a little more serious, but still in my style. I knew this was the movie I should make.

It's quite old-fashioned, but in a good way. Were you inspired by any films of the past?

Sam Fuller is one of my favourite directors. I love "The Steel Helmet" and "The Big Red One", so "Windtalkers" is partly a tribute to him. But the main idea is that it's about how people learn to come together. These characters are innocent, simple, ordinary people in war; they are not super heroes. That makes it a little different, I think.

How do you want to make the audience feel watching the combat scenes?

I want the audience to feel like they're inside a battlefield, and have them witness all the horror and the violence of real war. Usually my action movies are fantasy and the action is pretty much like ballet, but in this one I wanted to get a little more serious. I wanted all the action and stunt work to be more like a documentary. This is a very new experience for me.