For the record, Alan Moore has not softened his view on Hollywood nor its plan to bring his classic graphic novel "Watchmen" to the screen next March.
"I find film in its modern form to be quite bullying," Moore told me during an hour-long phone call from his home in England. "It spoon-feeds us, which has the effect of watering down our collective cultural imagination. It is as if we are freshly hatched birds looking up with our mouths open waiting for Hollywood to feed us more regurgitated worms. The 'Watchmen' film sounds like more regurgitated worms. I for one am sick of worms. Can't we get something else? Perhaps some takeout? Even Chinese worms would be a nice change."
Moore is often described as a recluse but, really, I think it's more precise to say he is simply too busy at his writing desk. "Yes, perhaps I should get out more," he said with a chuckle. In conversation, the 54-year-old iconoclast is everything his longtime readers would expect -- articulate, witty, obstinate and selectively enigmatic. Far from grouchy, he only gets an edge in his voice when he talks about the effect of Hollywood on the comics medium that he so memorably energized in the 1980s with "Saga of the Swamp Thing," "V for Vendetta," "Marvelman" and, of course, "Watchmen," his 1986 masterpiece. The Warner Bros. film version of "Watchmen" is due in theaters in March although the project has encountered some turbulence with a lawsuit filed by 20th Century Fox over who has the rights to the property. Moore has no intention of seeing the film and, in fact, he hints that he has put a magical curse on the entire endeavor.
Comedian "Will the film even be coming out? There are these legal problems now, which I find wonderfully ironic. Perhaps it's been cursed from afar, from England. And I can tell you that I will also be spitting venom all over it for months to come."
Moore said all that with more mischievous glee than true malice, but I know it will still pain "Watchmen" director Zack Snyder when he reads it. The director of "300" absolutely adores the work of Moore and has been laboring intensely to bring "Watchmen" to the screen with faithful sophistication. But I don't think there's any way to win Moore over, he simply detests Hollywood. Moore said he has never watched any of the film adaptations of his comics creations (which have included "V for Vendetta," "From Hell," "Constantine" and "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen") and that he believes "Watchmen" is "inherently unfilmable." He also rues the effect of Hollywood's siren call on the contemporary comics scene.
Comic-book hero refuses to bow to Hollywood
Not only did Moore say he will not watch the film, but he will also not accept a penny of its royalties, nor allow his name to be used in its marketing. In the interview he tells the reporter that he recently received a contract from Warner Bros asking for his signature beneath the words: "I, the undersigned, hereby give you permission to take my name off of the film and to send my money to [his former collaborator] Dave Gibbons."
This is not the first time Moore has turned his
nose up at Hollywood's lucre. He first fell out over the adaptation of
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which resulted in makers 20th
Century Fox being accused of plagiarism.
Fox settled the case, which Moore saw as tantamount to an admission of
guilt. Then, Moore was further stung by the Wachowski brothers'
adaptation of V for Vendetta, which wore the clothes of his characters and spoke the words of his plot, but watered down his anarchist politics
(although it nevertheless featured a sublime performance from Hugo
Weaving as V). Since then Moore has refused to have anything to do with
Hollywood, asking adapters to withdraw his name from the credits and
refusing to accept payment. He instead asks for his share of the money
to go to his collaborating artists.