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Zack Snyder & Deborah Snyder Talk ‘Rebel Moon’ Trailer, The Casting Process, Director’s Cut & More – Discussion

This discussion was published during the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. At GoC, we fully support the creatives who are part of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.

As we stand a few months away from the eagerly anticipated premiere of Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon, the hype surrounding it only intensifies. This sentiment has been amplified by the recent debut of the first teaser trailer at Gamescon. The trailer was incredible from start to finish, and it achieved to bring even more hype by definitively announcing the release dates and titles of its first two parts: Rebel Moon Part 1: A Child of Fire – December 22, 2023 and Rebel Moon Part 2: The Scargiver – April 19, 2024. 

Leading up to the trailer release, a small group of journalists had the chance to attend an early screening of the trailer that was followed by an in-depth discussion with Zack Snyder, Deborah Snyder, Wesley Coller, and Eric Newman about the process of bringing this to life. 

Check out highlights from the Rebel Moon discussion with Zack Snyder Deborah Snyder, Wesley Coller, and Eric Newman below: 

Jimmy and Kora are two of many, many characters we will meet on this journey. So Zack, can you talk about finding the balance between really establishing character and story and creating this immediate connection? 

Zack Snyder: I think that was as part of the cool structure of having the two movies, because it really allows us time to find the warriors that we’re going to meet and how we’re going to bring back to the village and their motivation for joining the fight, and all that. Which I think if you rush that, the investment in not only the redemption of the village, but the redemption stories of our heroes you don’t get the full fleshing out that it could.

We’ve seen Sofia Boutella be a badass before but we have never seen her quite like Cora. Can you talk a little bit about casting her for this role? And what made her so right for this character?

Deborah Snyder: Cora is amazingly complex. I think far too often, especially the way women are portrayed in anything that’s actiony, it’s very thin, and she has quite a complicated and dark backstory. And she really is on this redemptive journey; although I think she doesn’t feel like she’s even worthy of redemption. I think she comes to learn and is trying to make amends for things that she has done in her past. She was just amazing. We looked at many different women. We tested, I think, five different women. And not only did she have the gravitas to pull off all the acting scenes, but she was a dancer for so many years. So the choreography, we wanted it to be very believable. And we only doubled her once in the whole film, because we throw off the side of something and everyone’s like, ‘I don’t think we want to be throwing Sofia off the side of this platform.’ But she did all the fighting. And it just makes it so believable, I think, because you have to believe that she was this. And she is very much the other in the village. And that was something of an aspect of her feeling like an outsider that was really important with her character.

Can you talk about kind of casting this big ensemble and what made the stars right for the movie?

Eric Newman: I think the challenge to a movie in particular we can take place off-world is authenticity. Because there is an authenticity there is even though obviously, it’s entirely invented. There is a responsibility to the audience that it feels real. And so a lot of our casting philosophies was not just who looks the best for the part, but who actually is best for the part? And I think we did have one of the rare cases where we got our number one choice every time. That doesn’t always happen. I think a lot of that is Zack, but I think also a lot of it is due to what the movie is about. And that’s, I think, a big part of his appeal where your character has a fully realized story. 

Deborah Snyder: And I think that’s what’s so great about Zack is his casting and his process. His process is very deliberate. I’ve worked with some directors where it takes them a long while, but he kind of knows immediately, once he knows that they can do the work. The acting is always more important than the name. I think we always use the best actors, and not necessarily the biggest movie stars, it’s traditionally how we have cast all of our films. And I think in this instance, it was really exciting to also create these planets in these worlds, and based around who we cast, because we used a little bit of their influence.

Doona Bae in Rebel Moon. (Courtesy of Netflix)

Zack Snyder: An easy example is in Doona’s costume. We drew on a sort of South Korean traditional wardrobe. So we allowed their culture and kind of who they were to influence the design of the costume or language, and things like that. Staz is Indian and Russian, and so there’s a scene where he has to speak this language, which is the language of his home world. And we told the linguist who’s creating the language, to use the sounds that are native to the way he speaks Russian and he’s saying that it was like, ‘Oh, this is easy for me.’

And Zack, you worked with Dijmon before, when you were a student?

Zack Snyder: We met in ’89, when I was at Art Center. And he had just come over here from France and actually been a model there. And Paul Jasmine, who is my photography teacher, at Art Center, said, ‘I got this young model. He doesn’t speak English, but he’d be really cool to take pictures with.’ And he was. I have the photo, but didn’t bring it with me. My hope is that soon, when he comes up at some point, I want to take him back up to the Art Center and recreate the photo. By the way, he looks exactly the same. 

We’ve talked a lot about this project – about why Netflix ended up being such a great home to bring it to life. But you’re developing an extended cut for this movie, too, that will come down the road. You want to talk about what’s going on?

Zack Snyder: I can’t help myself, you know? But it was cool because I think the one thing with Netflix, coming off Justice League, and since the Dawn of the Dead – I did it a director’s cut for Dawn, you know? Watchmen, I have to two director’s [cuts], which is crazy. BvS, of course, is one of my favorites and Justice League, that goes without saying. So it was just cool. That initial conversation I was having with Netflix about just this concept, of them saying like, ‘Oh, well, you know, why don’t we make it part of the art of the plant.’ And I was like, that’s cool. That makes it a lot easier, you know? Because it’s one of those things that I guess I was always inspired by, you know? There’s a great history of director’s cuts that are just cool. And when I was in film school, I just always thought about that -there was like this other movie that you can discover.

And so for me, you know, there’s a lot of even when you make a movie, you have a lot of voices in your own creative mind telling you like what would be, you know, sort of narratively, just the strongest solution. And then you have this other tug on you, I do anyway, that is like, ‘Well, what if there’s rabbit holes that are like really amazing to go down and just kind of learn about different aspects of the characters?’ Those are always, for me, those have always been a thing that when I draw the scenes, or when I am writing the script, a lot of that stuff really tells the sort of a deeper-dive story. And, you know, I think that the director’s cuts that I’ve done in the past, the main purpose of existing is sort of just- the initial way I don’t get a vacuum, how the movie would exist. And I think it’s been the experience of the sort of my relationship to the fans of the movies that I’ve made, is that that they’ve always seen that as like, ‘Okay, what’s that? What am I going to learn in there?’ And those eggs that come at Easter time? What will those be?

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