ScreenRant: Can you talk about the marketing of Battleship? As you said, you’ll inevitably come up against a negative response (because it’s a board-game adaptation) how do you navigate around that?
Peter Berg: “I think it comes with the territory. Look we announced that we were making ‘Battleship’ based on the Hasbro game, which as we all know consists of seemingly strategy devoid lunacy. And we had Rihanna in it as our star, and we were out of our fucking minds. That was the initial reaction. Then people started to realize that there actually is a story, and it has been one of the bigger creative challenges of my life. You know, Rihanna is part of an ensemble and she is actually quite a good actress, as was Whitney (Houston), and Lenny Kravitz, and Mariah Carey, and Frank Sinatra, and Mick Jagger and David Bowie, and Barbara Streisand, and Tim McGraw, and lots of them. So the whole idea of, ‘Oh my God, this is the most shocking and outrageous thing and how dare they put Rihanna in this film!’ that all started falling away. I always follow my own instincts when I make films. I’ve been doing this for a long, long time, since I was in high school. The first movie I ever made was about two guys playing the board game: Stratego. Remember that game Stratego? One guy bumped another guy’s head and he went into a hallucination that the game is coming to life. I made that when I was fourteen. I’ve been making movies for a long time. And I don’t think there is a director that you will talk to whether it’s Ridley (Scott), or anyone here that wont tell you that have to ignore (the skepticism) to make a film. You’re basically setting out to do the impossible, which is make people believe in something that is not real. There will always be doubters and I’ve enjoyed watching most of those skeptics start to turn around and sing a different tune.”
Movies.about.com: What was it like to work with Rihanna?
Brooklyn Decker: “I was excited to work with her because it was my second film and her first, and both of us felt a little bit like rookies on set. We were really the only girls on set, as well. She’s a strong girl who wears a million hats. She’s a designer, she has a perfume, she’s an actress, and she’s a singer. To see her come to set and want to work hard and want to be an actor and want to work for Pete was really exciting, and I think all the actors really respected her for it. Her and I didn’t get to do a ton of scenes together, but the little time I did have with her, it was just nice to see somebody who is humble and who was there to work. She could go on being a singer and never have to experiment with anything else, but she desires to do something different. She likes to challenge herself and she wants to put herself out there, and I respect that.”
Peter Berg: “Rihanna is an artist and she works her ass off. I put her through [the ringer]. She came in for her first meeting and I told her to just come in and be herself with no glam. She was in a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, no make-up and a pair of flip-flops, and for two hours we just played. She improvised. She read Liam Neeson’s role. She has voices that she can do, that she plays around with, with her friends. She does a really dumb, stoned valley girl who’s really funny. I had her read Liam Neeson’s role like a stoned valley girl, and it was hilarious. What it showed was a desire to not take herself too seriously and to not be afraid to be stupid, which is half of being good at acting. You have to be willing to take a chance. There’s a long, long list of musicians who have become successful actors. Frank Sinatra in From Here to Eternity was my first recollection of it. I thought The Bodyguard with Whitney Houston was a great film. Mariah Carey blew my mind in Precious. If you look at Rihanna’s videos, she’s obviously incredibly sexy, she’s very intense, and she’s really hot. If it was that easy to do that, there would be thousands of Rihannas. If you’ve never been on a video set, there’s nothing glamorous or sexy about it. That all comes from her. She’s a performer, and she does a great job in Battleship.”
Movies.about.com: Will her audition with Liam Neeson’s role be on the DVD extras?
Peter Berg: “Maybe.”