Brandon Sanderson Mistborn Movie Interview

A few weeks back I posted about the Mistborn movie deal being announced. Since I’m in the creative writing class that the author, Brandon Sanderson, teaches, I decided to talk to him after class a little, and find out what I could about the new movie deal. Keep in mind, that the movie is still in the early stages, so details about the production are still forthcoming.

Maybe I’ll bug him later when I hear more.

Derek Bown: Okay, I think my most important question is; what do you have in your books that you know will have to be cut? So, in other words, what’s your Tom Bombadil?

Brandon Sanderson: Great question. What’s my Tom Bombadil? I think there’s a lot of things that I kinda like. I think that to streamline into a movie you generally have to take some time away from side characters and focus on main characters. That’s generally whatt happens in film, and I think that the Mistborn books would have that happen in film, by necessity. I think that by necessity allomancy isgoing to feel very different. We can’t do some of the conceptual things, it’s going to turn into a more visual type of combat. It’s going to look more like Kung Fu, and less like wacky, screwy magic system. I think that’s a necessary change. We’ll see what they do. I mean, there are definitely some things that will need to be cut, I don’t even know right now from the Mistborn books specifically what would have to be cut. What else you got?

DB: Does the contract cover the whole trilogy, or just the first book?

BS: The contract covers the entire trilogy.

DB: Who would your ideal director be for the movies?

BS: Who would my ideal director be? I’ve long thought that I would absolutely love to get Brian Singer. I think that he would be my choice, mainly because I’ve liked – across various different genres he’s done – his ability to blend action with characterization. I love his ability to do that, and I was one of the people who loved the Superman Returns movie, and I’ve liked his X-Men a lot. Something about the feel of how he uses his action sequences works very well for me.

DB: Who would you like to compose the soundtrack?

BS: It’s going to depend on the feel of the movie, I mean, every composer has their own concept. I’ve really liked Harry Gregson Williams recently, and he’s one of my favorites. But, you know, there’s also the perennial favorites. I’m not as much a John Williams fan as everyone else seems to be for some reason. I prefer James Horner more. I prefer…umm…what’s his name? The one who did all the soundtracks for all of Shyamalan’s movies? Newton something? No.

DB: Newton…Howard?

BS: Newton Howard? Maybe. James Newton Howard, that’s it. I like his soundtracks a lot. However, I don’t know if they’d mix with Mistborn that well.

DB: Do you have any favorite actors you would like to see in the lead roles?

BS: You know, the girl from Juno, I think would be a great Vin. If they did the right sort of things. I’ve never been able to cast Kelsier in my head, but the girl from Juno – Ellen Page – I think she would be great for Vin.

DB: Is there any talk of your non-Mistborn books being adapted into movies?

BS: Besides Alcatraz? Alcatraz has been sold to Dreamworks animation. I’ve only had occasional little pings about Elantris, but nothing substantial. And that only leaves Warbreaker, and we haven’t had any substantial movie offers. I mean, I do occasionally make my way to Hollywood, and I do get to talk to people and pitch ideas and things.

DB: What’s the limit to the number of changes that you feel should be made? For example, what are your feelings about the changes made in the Prince Caspian movie versus the book?

BS: I think that a Director must be given complete artistic freedom to adapt as they feel necessary. I feel that generally more changes are better. For instance, my feeling is that the first two Harry Potter movies didn’t change enough, whereas the third and fourth ones did. I didn’t agree with all the decisions he made, but I liked Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the Lord of the Rings. He had to adapt. That is why I feel that the Golden Compass is a great example of not adapting. They filmed scene by scene, and it made for a boring movie. A great book turned into a boring movie, and I feel that any book taken and filmed scene by scene would be boring. So, I’m a believer in adaptation, and I wouldn’t put any requirements on a director.

DB: Are there any movies that you think have the closest feel to Mistborn?

BS: I mentioned Brian Singer. I think his X-Men 2 does a great job of melding action and character, that’s one of the ones that I like. So, you know, there are a lot of movies out there that…you’re putting me on the spot…that blend fantasy… The first Lord of the Rings is my favorite. It’s a great blend, but it’s not a good match for these types of movies. I think something like X2, or some of the other Superhero movies are a better beat by beat feel for how a Mistborn movie would go.

DB: How long do you expect the movies to be?

BS: I have no idea. I would anticipate that the screenplays will be standard film screenplays. So, Alcatraz would be 90 minutes – about 90 pages – and Mistborn would be 120. But who knows what the director will do once they actually start making a shooting script.

DB: Are there any release dates yet?

BS: Nope, nothing. Alcatraz is being considered for 2013. Mistborn doesn’t even have a consideration yet. Is that all?

DB: That’s all, thank you very much.

BS: Thank you.


  1. And I am just finding this now?! Thanks for putting this up. I would love a chance to talk to BS. I have been reading fantasy for 30+ years and I have never before had a writer grab me the way he does. These could be amazing movies, but I think they need to be really big budget films in order to be done correctly. As long as they don't end up in the hands of the SyFy channel! Thanks for the interview!

  2. The main reason you haven't heard about this one is because my blog isn't as big as I wished it was. I get more people coming here nowadays, but this interview was done back when I was first starting out, and I kind of hoped that it would help attract more viewers to my blog.

    As it is, I'm glad you liked it, it's always nice to hear back from people that read my blog, and nice to know that someone goes back and reads my old posts.

    If you don't mind my asking, and actually bother to check back and see if I responded to your comment, did you find this through google, o rby browsing through my old archives?

  3. I found it through google, just finished reading the series and was investigating the possibility of a movie. I'm a student at BYU as well, and would love to get a chance to talk to him as well.

  4. Ever since I reading this series, I have thought it would make a great movie as long as the right effort was put into it. As Brandon mentions, LOTR was a great example of how an amazing movie can be made from an amazing book. Hopefully they will invest some money and see it through so that it gets done well. Scenes like the battles in the 2nd and 3rd books will take considerable finances.

  5. Similar to the others here – recently discovered the books. Yet to read Hero of Ages, it's currently on order.

    I'm… skeptical of whether or not a movie would do the books justice. They rarely, rarely do. But I'm also forgiving. I'd love to see the books adapted to screen well.

    But I'm also optimistic.

    The bits in Mistborn that keep me coming back are the action scenes. I find that I enjoy the way Brandon writes action because he makes it almost cinematic. As I read the text, in my minds eye I'm watching the action, as if it were happening in front of me. So I think that the action would translate well.

    It would be a shame to see some of the other stuff go… I can see that we may need to lose a lot of the scholarly stuff, with the logbook and Kwaan's inscription. I think that we'd still have a mention, but the detail would go. Which means that the subtlety of the alteration of the words would be lost, as well as the interesting character changes in Vin as she learns to take up research.

    But… On balance, I have a cautious optimism. I'd be keen to see that movie.

    Ellen Paige… Hm. I think I can see that working for Vin. The trick there would be the timing. Ellen works because Vin is supposed to look very young. If the movie happens at all, it would probably be a few years in the making. Too long, and Ellen may not be able to pull it off.

    But then again, Ellen still looks eternally young… If the movie took too long for that, I suppose that by then Chloë Grace Moretz would be old enough to fill the role.

    What about Kelsier? Any thoughts? Please, anyone but Johnny Depp. Johnny is amazing, but I think he looks entirely wrong for Kelsier.

  6. Ive just discovered Brandon Sanderson, MistBorn and this post about the movie!! I loved these books, they are by far the best thing i've read in a long time!

    But a movie?? I agree with the previous answer, it would need to be a huge big budget movie with someone making it who loved the books to make it work. With a few exceptions book to movie abductions just don't work in my opinion anyway. I feel the same about The Dark Tower series by King. As much as i would love to see both of these things work on the big screen i just feel i'm going to be disappointed, no matter what they do its not going to live up to the way i've be picturing it while im reading the books.

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