Steven S. DeKnight is the director of the upcoming film Pacific Rim Uprising which stars John Boyega, Charlie Day, Jing Tian and Scott Eastwood. DeKnight is best known for being the creator, head writer and executive producer of the Starz series Spartacus, including Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, Spartacus: Vengeance and Spartacus: War of the Damned.
Previously, DeKnight worked on Smallville, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and served as a consulting producer on Joss Whedon’s television series Dollhouse.
In May 2014, DeKnight took over showrunning duties on Marvel’s Daredevil and then in Feb 2016, it was announced that he would take over directing duties of Pacific Rim Uprising from Guillermo del Toro, who remained on the film in the role of producer.
So what is the Pacific Rim sequel about?
John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) stars as the rebellious Jake Pentecost, a once-promising Jaeger pilot whose legendary father gave his life to secure humanity’s victory against the monstrous “Kaiju.” Jake has since abandoned his training only to become caught up in a criminal underworld. But when an even more unstoppable threat is unleashed to tear through our cities and bring the world to its knees, he is given one last chance to live up to his father’s legacy by his estranged sister, Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi)—who is leading a brave new generation of pilots that have grown up in the shadow of war. As they seek justice for the fallen, their only hope is to unite together in a global uprising against the forces of extinction.
Listen to our interview with Steven below. A written part-transcript is first, then the trailer and finally Darran’s full audio interview with DeKnight. Pacific Rim Uprising opens in cinemas March 22nd.
ACCESS: I watched the film yesterday and I really enjoyed it. I was pleasantly surprised in how much I enjoyed it.
DeKNIGHT: When I first signed on I joked that I wanted people to come out of this saying. “Well, it’s better than I expected it to be.” So apparently I’m hitting the mark.
ACCESS: You come from an extensive TV background of writing and producing on shows such as BUFFY, ANGEL, DOLLHOUSE and DAREDEVIL. How did all of that lead you to PACIFIC RIM (UPRISING)?
DeKNIGHT: I always had a grand plan. Back when I worked with Joss Whedon on BUFFY, I always expressed an interest in directing. And so when I ended up on his other show ANGEL, he came to me and said, “Hey I wanna give you a shot.” He gave so many of us a chance at directing for the first time. And I got a tastes for it. And I really liked it.
ACCESS: Given how popular PACIFIC RIM was in China did you go into it thinking the sequel needed particular things in it to appeal to the Chinese Market?
DeKNIGHT: Not Exactly. One of the things that really appealed to me about this movie and I tried to do in SPARTACUS and DAREDEVILL and my other work, is I love is the idea of being able to go to locations around the world, And to me the DNA of the concept lends itself to that; of the world and its different cultures coming together. To me it wasn’t a duty, it was a pleasure to work out those (story) beats and make it feel like the entire globe was coming together to fight a common threat.
ACCESS:The first one was a very serious film, but this one felt more fun. Was that a conscious choice?
Absolutely. When I first got hired for the movie I wrote up a couple of pages – my Pacific Rim Manifesto of what I wanted to see in the movie. Two things that stood out. I strongly felt it should be two hours or under. And it had to be fun.
ACCESS: John Boyega was also a producter on the film, what was that like?
It was fantastic, I will be completely honest, I was a little nervous going in. You know when an actor becomes a producer it can go a couple of different ways, but I got the best of all worlds with John. He was so enthusiastic and genuinely funny. Every time he stops into the set, it didn’t matter if we were doing gruelling long days, he always had a joke, he always had good humour and he was so supportive.