Producer Frank Darabont: How Illustrated Man will be 'retro sci-fi'

Frank Darabont is busy trying to mount his own Ray Bradbury adaptation, Fahrenheit 451, but he's also a producer on director Zack Snyder's proposed adaptation of The Illustrated Man and offered us an exclusive glimpse at what he calls Snyder's "retro" approach to the book.

The Bradbury novel comprises 18 short stories, linked by a framing narrative told by the title character, a man covered with living tattoos. Snyder has described his take on the stories as retro sci-fi.

"Well, just given the time period in which it was written, given the sort of quainter kind of era in which those stories were written, I think that's probably what he's talking about in terms of a retro approach," Darabont said in an exclusive interview last week at the Saturn Awards in Burbank, Calif. "Bradbury is—it's probably not fair to say a writer of his times, because he's a very timeless writer, but the stories we've chosen have the taste of that '60s-era Bradbury."

Neither Snyder nor Darabont would name which of the famous stories screenwriter Alex Tse chose for adaptation, but Darabont had a hand in picking them. "We consulted on picking certain stories, which ones we thought would make the strongest anthological film," he said. "It's actually a bit in flux at the moment, so it wouldn't be fair to say."

Expect Snyder's Illustrated Man to have a vision different from Darabont's Fahrenheit 451. As a producer, Darabont's philosophy is: Leave the artist alone.

"It's really Zack's project to shepherd, and as I think any wise producer should do, I've said, 'I'll be as involved as you want or as little as you want. Tell me what you need from me,'" Darabont said. "I'm not going to get in somebody's face and try to drive the process unless I'm invited to do that. Zack certainly doesn't need my supervision. He's a brilliant guy, and he's developing the script now. I do tend to be very respectful if my help isn't needed. On Collateral, for example, I was one of the executive producers on that. Michael Mann doesn't need my help. He doesn't need my opinion. If he asks it, I'm happy to give it to him, but otherwise I'm just going to take a respectful half step back."

The Illustrated Man is expected to go into production sometime after Snyder wraps Sucker Punch in 2011.

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