Exclusive: Emmerich Talks Foundation

Robert Rodat delivers first draft

Judging by the next two projects on Roland Emmerich's slate, the German director is fast tiring of planet-pummeling cataclysms. Next up is Anonymous, shooting this month, with the Elizabethan political thriller likely to be followed by his long-planned Isaac Asimov adaptation Foundation.

That's right - he's moving onto galactic civilisation-pummeling cataclysms. Or is he? “Well, it depends on the script,” Emmerich told us when we spoke to him. “We’ve got a script from Robert Rodat now and it’s 240 pages long! I said, ‘You know what guys? Edit it down to at least under 200 pages.’”

Of course, Rodat’s first draft of The Patriot was similarly epic and the task of condensing Asimov’s seven volume series into something filmable was always likely to be Sisyphean. Emmerich isn’t deterred from his quest to bring the seminal sci-fi to the screen: “I’m really into it. I worked with Bob on the story for weeks, sitting in a room trying to figure out how to make all the loose stories [work] and put them in a box called ‘Foundation’. Bob’s perfect for this thing - he also knows as a writer he has to find the hero and a bad guy in the piece. We had to come up with characters that go through [the series], which is very hard.”

No word yet on how the narrative or how the pair will impose a three-act structure on out of the creation of future-predicting psychohistory, the collapse of civilisation and the establishment of a new colony on the planet Terminus but, the director assures us, his take on Foundation will avoid the pitfalls of previous Asimov adaptations. “I, Robot as a book was so much more than it was as a film and I think, because of that, fans were very disappointed. I don’t want to repeat that disappointment; I want to give people exactly what the Foundation trilogy is. You have to tell a story that represents the books but also works as a film. That’s the challenge.”

Emmerich confirmed that, should it get the green light, Foundation would see him dip into James Cameron’s box of tricks. As MTV Movies Blog recently revealed, he’ll use 3D performance-capture to generate Asimov’s take on Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. “I want to create everything - I want it to be a full CG film, so [performance capture] is perfect for that.” For a full Foundation synopsis, click here.