“There was great technical pressure to achieve this,” the Dundalk-born director told the Irish Echo in New York recently. “From the first phone call to the release date would have been 10 months, which is a little hard, but that was part of the whole ball game. It wasn’t an afterthought … The numbers in the movie are of huge significance to the plot; huge significance.”
Co-starring Julia Stiles, Liev Schreiber and Mia Farrow, “The Omen” is an updated version of the 1976 film about a couple who discovers their cute little boy (Seamus Davey-Fitpatrick) is literally the anti-Christ.
“I chased it,” the former news cameraman and commercial director replied when asked how he came to direct the satanic psychological thriller. “I wanted it. I heard the rumor that they were going to do a Japanese language movie with a Japanese cast and I said, ‘No, this is a global movie; we should do this.'”
Explaining how he wanted to make a film that looked at one possibility of why so many calamities have befallen man in recent years, Moore says his intention was to make a provocative, entertaining, but not preachy, film. Modern movie-going audiences simply won’t stand that, added the “Behind Enemy Lines” and “Flight of the Phoenix” director, who honed his craft working with fellow Irish filmmakers Neil Jordan and Jim Sheridan.
“The deal with the devil is you get to talk about these things, but (audiences say,) ‘You better entertain us, too, because we don’t want to watch Bill Maher for two hours,'” noted the lapsed Catholic who says he reexamined his beliefs while making “The Omen.”
Asked if he has heard from the Vatican or any church groups about the religious aspects of his latest film, Moore laughs and speculates, “They’re probably a little busy right now,” referring to the fury that erupted over “The DaVinci Code,” another high-profile spring movie that prominently features the Roman Catholic Church.
“We did not ask for their approval or their disapproval,” he said, confessing he wishes the church would spend its time on real issues like AIDS in Africa rather than bashing movies. “We didn’t try and stir it up for publicity, much to the chagrin of our publicity department.”
Moore says the only moment he felt the church’s ire was when his crew went to film a few scenes in Croatia during a period of real-life civil unrest.
“The government asked the church to quiet the people and the church said: ‘OK, we’ll do you a deal. We’ll do that if you kick the movie out.’ So, we lost Croatia because of that,” he recalled.
Although the Czech Republic proved to be an ideal place to lens the film, Moore says Ireland was his first choice.
“I would love to shoot something there,” he said. “I tried to shoot ‘The Omen’ there, but it didn’t work out. Good old, rip-off Ireland. The film board tried very hard. They have a new chairman, James Morris, and he is really good. He’s from the business and he knows the business, but the fact is the cab fare costs you $40. A hotel room costs … You’re talking about a couple hundred people. We just couldn’t make the numbers work.”