5 deliriously fun facts about director Duncan Jones’ ‘WARCRAFT’

Toby Kebbell voices Durotan in WARCRAFT. Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Toby Kebbell voices Durotan in WARCRAFT. Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Courtney Howard // Film Critic

For years now, gamers have enjoyed playing Blizzard’s massively popular video game, WARCRAFT. However, the time wasn’t quite right to bring an adaptation to the big screen. That is until uber talented filmmaker Duncan Jones (MOON, SOURCE CODE), who doubles as a super fan of the game, got a hold of it, turning the epic property into a franchise-in-the-making. In the film, the orcs – including Durotan (Toby Kebbell) and Orgrim (Robert Kazinsky) – are fleeing their dying world, seeking a more lush and peaceful respite. They’ve also brought a long a slave Garona (Paula Patton), who proves to be an underestimated formidable force. The bad news is they chose Azeroth, a human kingdom protected by the king’s henchman Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel) and young mage Kadghar (Ben Schnetzer), to re-colonize. Let’s just say the two species can’t find a way to co-exist and havoc breaks loose.

At the film’s recent Los Angeles press day, Jones and the cast gathered to speak – and they spun some pretty interesting behind-the-scenes yarns.

5. WARCRAFT rivals Peter Jackson’s LORD OF THE RINGS in the epic fantasy realm. Jones called it the “gorilla in the room” in terms of the genre. “It feels like the spectrum of what is fantasy is much smaller. I love the idea of doing a film that would hopefully reach the same bar as LORD OF THE RINGS, but give fantasy a new voice and feel.” He later went on to say, “We wanted to find a way to do it differently and give you guys a bit of a rival. We wanted to create a spectacle and give it an energy that was a bit different, but hopefully achieve the same level of success.

4. Toby Kebbell had to modify his physicality to play Durotan. He said, “That soft tissue was such a complex thing. They were constantly asking us orcs to ‘Do a big one,’ because we’re such big orcs. Of course we’re always capable of doing these, but what was nice was going back to ILM eleven months later, going ‘Thank goodness [Robert] and Duncan also said, ‘Let’s also do the subtle version,’ because that technology was already advancing and on the path toward getting across what we wanted to do. Psychological and emotionally, it was nice to play a nice character with a wife. I called Anna [Galvin] ‘darling’ every day on set – to be in a loving experience.”

3. The script the actors received stayed the same from start to finish. Kebbell spilled, “The script was so well done – a testament to Duncan that [he] kept that script and it stayed all the way through, because that’s [always] the downfall of many [a] great story.” Jones stated, “Sam Raimi was attached at one point. But they didn’t move forward because it wasn’t right. I was fortunate, when it was time to come in and pitch my approach to Blizzard, there was a sigh of relief.” Kazinsky added, “As a fan, I was very grateful they didn’t go ahead with the previous version. It would have been very easy to cash in on a game at the height of its popularity, six years ago. But they waited until they had the right story and right director.”

2. Paula Patton went through a lot of trial and error when it came to Garona’s look. She said, “That process began way before I started shooting with Duncan. We did a lot of tests to find it and make it right. I had a moment where I went to hair and makeup, there was no mirror, went to the bathroom and almost had a panic attack. It became something that, yes, there were a lot of hours in the day, but I loved it and could embrace it. I was afraid. I didn’t know how I was going to fully become this half-orc/ half-human. Part of it is what you do mentally to prepare. But then it became a collaborative effort between costumes and make up and hair – all with Duncan’s vision. The contact lenses really obscured my vision – that was the last bit. I didn’t feel human.”

1. Hardcore fans rejoice! Leeroy Jenkins’ spirit was acknowledged by Robert Kazinsky. The day the press conference was held on (May 11) just so happened to be “Leeroy Jenkins Day.” If you don’t know who that is, go here. Kazinsky said, “Maybe, maybe Leeroy Jenkins appears in the movie. No, they suggested it a bit earlier in the film. Leeroy Jenkins became the vernacular for rushing in without any planning and being a damn idiot, but being so enthusiastic about it. I guess I’m kind of Leeroy Jenkins.”

WARCRAFT opens on June 10. To read our review, go here.

About author

Courtney Howard

Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, CCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.