Considered by many to be one of the worst directors of all time, Uwe Boll is perhaps one of the most fascinating figures of the early 2000s. His prolific filmography has him brushing shoulders with the likes of Ray Liotta, J.K. Simmons, Ben Kingsley, and Michael Madsen. His work has been criticised, mocked and shamed by critics, the public, and Hollywood insiders for years. Boll was a cult figure for several years, boxing his critics (documented in Raging Boll), drawing big names, and ultimately becoming the filmmaker audiences loved to hate. Emerging slowly back into the spotlight, I had the genuine pleasure of settling into a discussion with Boll, about his work, his future, and his thoughts on the topics that plague Hollywood.
After his career in Hollywood came to a sudden close, announcing his retirement in a video entitled “fuck you all“, Boll moved to pastures new. Opening a restaurant in Vancouver, Bauhaus seemed to signal the end of Boll’s time in Hollywood, and the start of a new career as a restauranteur. According to Boll, “Bauhaus in Vancouver is closed, and relocated to Germany. I sued my landlord.” His time with the restaurant business seems to be a rather negative experience, when asked whether he enjoyed his work, he simply said “no”. With no prospects or interest in re-opening the restaurant in the United States, his interest seems to be turning toward filmmaking once again.
The hot-headed filmmaker may have a trick or two left up his sleeve, though. “I want to come back in 2021. I have a good script named Annihilation“. When pressed for further comments, Boll stated he also has hopes for “Postal 2, and a German political thriller with the title Germany in Winter“. This return to directing may allow Boll to work with those he wishes to collaborate with, including “Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, and Michael Caine”.
It’s no surprise that Boll is interested in a sequel to his 2007 comedy. A sequel was initially announced but fell flat once a Kickstarter campaign failed to get the funding necessary. “Postal was the best satire film. Filmed twelve years ago, and now under Trump is more real than ever. I would love to make Postal 2, but we don’t have the financing. I still wait for Netflix or Amazon to give me the money to make Postal 2. I have various scenes written for it.” The passion for future projects is still there, something that was lacking in Fuck You All: The Uwe Boll Story, a documentary on the tribulations the director faced after the flop of his first big-budget feature. He blames a lack of management for these critical bombs, “I had no studio or PR department or agency backing me up, it was always me against everybody.”
For those that belittle and mock the work of Boll, he only has one line for them. “They saw only Alone in the Dark and House of the Dead”. His most controversial and ridiculed films are his videogame tie-ins, notably those aforementioned pieces. Critics tore through his work frequently. “They were hurting my business. I don’t think bad reviews are ever good for financial success”. Postal barely grossed back 1% of its $15 million budget, with Golden Raspberry Awards soon following. Petitions for his retirement were opened, Stride gum garnered attention for offering a free pack of gum to anyone who signed the petition. “Those were stupid videogame fans who loved to bash me. All those people need to correct their opinion of me and watch films like Postal, Rampage, Stoic, Darfur, and Assault on Wall Street. People like to say I am the worst film director of all time, they just like to say it. They know it’s not true.”
Passion for the business clearly isn’t an issue Boll had during his prime. Whilst some of his projects came across as inarticulate, they showcased a handful of hidden talents, an efficiency that saw him write, direct, and edit three films all at once. His efficiency turned into excess. “Since I was ten years old, I wanted to make movies. I loved movies and going to the cinema”. It’s the standard inspiration for a director, but Boll speaks fondly of his time on set, and how he managed his time. “I think a director has to be a big communicator and connector to keep it all together. They have to get a cast and crew working toward one vision”.
His vision of Hollywood has soured too, especially with the rise of “event films like The Avengers“. Boll believes that there are no movies to cater to “older audiences and 40-year-olds”, and that on the whole, the current state of the artistic medium is filled with “good TV shows, but boring movies”. He has pride in his own work outside of Postal, crediting Darfur (his film about the Sudanese genocide) as “very, very realistic, and very emotional”.
With over twenty years in the business, all Boll has to offer in the way of advice is “Stay busy, keep on film sets even if it’s just as a runner. It’s trial and error”. With over thirty directing credits to his name, it’s easy to see where that point of view comes from. His career lives and dies on the hatred of a small pocket of the internet, but perhaps that’s why his films are remembered. He is hopeful, though, that future generations will see the genius of his work. He doesn’t believe he receives enough credit, but “film historians will see that at some point”.