Duncan Jones On Showing David Bowie An Early Version Of ‘Warcraft’

Director Duncan Jones’ latest film has been met with mixed reviews among critics, but for Jones, Warcraft was a deeply personal endeavor, one he had the chance to share with his father, David Bowie, just before his passing earlier this year.

For Duncan Jones Warcraft began and ended, tragically, with cancer. Early on in the filming process, Jones’ wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, undergoing a double mastectomy, and just before the film wrapped up, Jones’ father, David Bowie, succumbed to cancer. Jones characterized the film as a deeply personal experience, in part because of his love of the subject matter – the game World of Warcraft, on which the film is based, but also because he was able to share the film with his father before his passing.

“My film started and ended with cancer,” said Warcraft director Duncan Jones during a recent interview.

Production on Warcraft began back in 2012, when Duncan Jones took over the project, which had remained in “development hell” for around six years, before Jones came aboard and pushed studio execs to invest in the film and bring Jones’ ambitious vision to life.

Fresh off the success of his first two films, Moon (2009) and Source Code (2011), Duncan Jones found himself in a difficult position from a creative standpoint. The critical and commercial success of Jones’ first two films inspired studios to trust him with a third film, but according to Straits Times, Jones was only offered sequels or big franchise films.

“I don’t want to build on someone else’s legacy. I wanted to establish my own thing,” Jones said.

Warcraft was a lucrative opportunity for Jones and for Blizzard Entertainment. Blizzard had struggled to get the film in the hands of the right director, someone who was not only a big fan of World of Warcraft, but someone with the right idea in mind for the film – that Warcraft could be about a “common humanity” shared by the humans and the orcs, rather than a straight-up war film.

Spider-Man director Sam Raimi had initially been attached to the project, and after he left to pursue other projects, Duncan Jones took over, but was reportedly disappointed by the screenplay – which had pitted the humans against the orcs, who were portrayed as monsters, unsympathetic antagonists.

“It was the stale fantasy trope of, humans are the good guys, monsters are the bad guys. It just didn’t capture in my gut what made Warcraft, the idea of heroes being on both sides,” said Warcraft director Duncan Jones.

The creative team at Blizzard was reportedly thrilled with the selection of Jones to helm the film, after a previously disappointing development cycle for the Warcraft film.

“He was obviously just a geek like us – a PC gamer who had spent an inordinate number of hours within World of Warcraft and just got it,” said Chris Metzen, Blizzard Entertainment’s vice-president for story and franchise development.

After putting together a rough cut of the film, Duncan Jones got the opportunity of a lifetime, to present his pride and joy to his father, David Bowie.

“I showed him an early cut of Warcraft and showed him some of the effects shots. You know, for everyone else he was one person. For me, he was my dad. And he was always interested in things I was working on. So I showed him what I was working on and he was all excited for me and happy that I was doing the thing I enjoyed doing in my life,” said Duncan Jones, speaking with The Daily Beast.

So despite what may end up being a mixed critical reception for Warcraft, Jones sees the film a little differently.

Warcraft is going to be a period in my life I treasure, and loathe at the same time,” Jones said.

[Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival]

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