Frank Marshall Interview: ‘Sinatra,’ ‘Bourne,’ ‘Jurassic World,’ and ‘Goonies’

Frank Marshall Interview on Sinatra, Bourne, and Goonies
Frank Marshall (Photo by Eric Charbonneau / WireImage)

Executive producer Frank Marshall and director Alex Gibney were given unprecedented access to Frank Sinatra’s family and archives for the four hour two-part documentary Sinatra: All Or Nothing At All airing this year on HBO. The documentary will feature never before seen photos and footage of Ol’ Blue Eyes as well as new interviews with family and friends of the legendary singer and star of dozens of feature films.

During HBO’s TCA winter press day I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Frank Marshall about his personal connection to the Sinatra legacy. Marshall’s resume as a director includes Arachnophobia, Congo, and Eight Below, and as a producer his credits include such blockbusters as the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Back to the Future, Gremlins, and the Bourne film franchises as well as Poltergeist, Goonies, and The Sixth Sense. And in addition to the Sinatra documentary, he’s currently working on the new addition to the Jurassic Park series, Jurassic World. Snagging a few minutes of his time at the TCAs along with another journalist, I was able to get the latest info on some of his many projects including the Sinatra documentary, next Bourne film, and the possibility of another Goonies and Indiana Jones movies.

Interview with Frank Marshall:

We’ve heard that Disney has suggested rebooting Indiana Jones, now that they own the franchise. Is that true and are you still involved with that?

Frank Marshall: “You’d have to ask my wife (Kathleen Kennedy). [Laughing] They haven’t come to me yet.”

Does Harrison Ford still want to do one more?

Frank Marshall: “I don’t know. You’d have to ask her. She just worked with him on that other little franchise (Star Wars). I don’t know. I’m too busy with Jurassic and Bourne and [Sinatra: All or Nothing at All]. This has been unbelievable. The most fun I’ve had in a long time.”

They said your father was in the band. Did you talk about that in the film?

Frank Marshall: “He played guitar. No, we don’t talk about it in the movie. It’s just one of my connections to this.”

Did your father talk about it a lot?

Frank Marshall: “Oh, yeah. In the ’50s when I was growing up, yeah. It was incredible. My dad was a session guitar player and he played on four of the sessions at Capitol Records. He played in the MGM orchestra in a couple of the movies that Frank was in. And so I’ve always been a Sinatra fan since then. It’s one of the things that sort of inspired me to take this on. I think it’s something that also might have endeared me to Nancy and Tina and Frank Jr is that our dads worked together. Not many people can say that and so it’s been really a labor of love for me, and extraordinarily great.”

Are they giving new audio interviews for this, even though it’s not on camera?

Frank Marshall: “Yes. We didn’t shoot talking heads on camera, but they did new audio interviews.”

Do you find documentary producing a very different skill than big project blockbusters?

Frank Marshall: “Oh yeah. It’s completely different because when I’m doing a movie, I know what we’re doing the next day. When we’re doing a doc, things change all the time. All the time you go this direction, that direction. It’s very refreshing for me. […] It’s kind of refreshing for me to just have a free-for-all with, ‘Try this. Try that. Oh, we need that? Let’s do this.’ It’s much different than having a script and having a schedule and knowing what you’re shooting every day.”

When there’s music rights involved do you have contacts that can put you at an advantage to make those affordable?

Frank Marshall: “Yeah, I do. I think that a lot of these rights holders if you can show them that you’re doing a classy project and a project that’s meaningful and respectful to the artists, that yes I can call those people and get them to talk to me. Also, Sinatra made a lot of movies so I can go to the people I know at the studios and say, ‘We’re doing a movie. It’s good for you, too, because people will see your movie.’ So, yeah, I have an opportunity to make a lot of connections that a lot of other producers probably don’t.”

Do you actually get a bit nervous about approaching a film like this where you don’t know where it’s going to end up?

Frank Marshall: “Yeah, but you just keep working. This is the fifth or sixth doc that I’ve done; I’ve directed a couple for ESPN. It’s exciting because you keep going, you keep saying, ‘How do we make it better? What can we change here?’ I mean, I just find it completely different than my day job.”

But at the same time do you find you have to set yourself a stop point because it could just keep going?

Frank Marshall: “Oh yeah. I have a little unit in our office where there’s an editor there. I’m in and out and we have these other projects. But I could sit there all day and play. It’s my sandbox.”

You’ve got Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass back for another Bourne movie. Does Jeremy Renner still have a role in that franchise?

Frank Marshall: “In the franchise, yes.”

How big of a challenge was it to get Matt and Paul back together, since it sounded like that was not going to happen?

Frank Marshall: “It was really the challenge of finding the story. If you look back five or six years ago when we were maybe going on, we just didn’t have a story. It’s taken this long for us to come up with a story that everybody responded to. Now, we’re moving forward.”

Are there plans for Damon and Renner’s characters to eventually meet and have a movie together?

Frank Marshall: “We don’t have plans for that. You never know. I never say never. But that’s not the plan. They’re on separate tracks.”

Was it really about Paul Greengrass saying yes? Matt Damon sounded like he was game if he could get Paul back as director.

Frank Marshall: “No, it was about both of them responding to a story idea. Now, we’re off and we’re going to go write the script and make it.”

Last year, Richard Donner started generating some real buzz about Goonies 2. Is there real heat behind that now?

Frank Marshall: “It’s in discussion. Yeah, he’s talked to us about it, and we’ve talked to him. Again, what’s the story? It’s all about we don’t just do sequels to do them; the story has to be good.”

So, there isn’t a new script?

Frank Marshall: “Not yet.”

But he wants one?

Frank Marshall: “Yeah, he’s saying, ‘Okay, who’s got an idea? Who’s got an idea?’”

And obviously it doesn’t matter how big the fan base is, if there isn’t an idea.

Frank Marshall: “Yeah, that’s very important. You don’t want to disappoint the fans by just doing a schlocky movie. You want to do a real legitimate movie. It’s not going to be a sequel. In the Amblin spirit of Goonies, that’s what has to be.”

Is that why it took some time to get to Jurassic World?

Frank Marshall: “That’s one of the reasons, yeah. It was about story. Story, story, story.”

People expect so much more now.

Frank Marshall: “They do. I believe that the audience wants to discover the movie in the movie theater. I don’t care what you say, with all of the leaks, I think it’s a spoiler. You want to see Star Wars like you saw Star Wars the first time when you had no idea, or Back to the Future or Goonies or Bourne. You don’t want to know what’s going to happen.”

Jurassic Park was one of those films because you saved the big reveal of the dinosaur for the movie, but that was such a technological breakthrough. Is there another breakthrough you can make on the fourth film?

Frank Marshall: “Not technologic but you’re right, everybody has seen the dinosaur now so it can’t be about that. We have to have a good story.”

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