This is part two, a day late, of my Michael Moorcock interview. In this section, Mr. Moorcock responds to my questions about the original series of Elric novels and stories.

In the late nineties, White Wolf Publishing issued a 15-volume series that collects nearly all of Mr. Moorcock’s fantasy and science fiction, including two volumes of Elric stories and novels. The set comprises a good 75,000 pages, and reading it straight through is one of the more remarkable literary experiences I’ve ever had.

Sadly, the books now out of print, as is the case for a similar four-volume collection from White Wolf of Fritz Leiber’s elegant, beautifully written, and witty Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stories.

However, the White Wolf books are well worth tracking down, and most of the volumes can be located either via Amazon’s used-book listing services or via alibris, another used-book dealer listing system.

Previous Elric publications

In the White Wolf editions, the first copyright date is 1961. is that when the albino was born?

A little earlier, in the late fifties. Then Ted Carnell, editor of Science Fantasy magazine, asked me to write some heroic fantasy stories, and the first of these Elric tales appeared, I think, in 1960.

How many original Elric novels were there?

The ones reprinted in the Fantasy Masterworks series published by Victor Gollancz in the U.K. Some novellas and one novel, Stormbringer.

Why and when did you move on from the character?

I had already written a straight novel when I was 17 and lost it, then an allegory called The Golden Barge, published many years later, and of course I had written a great deal of journalism, short stories, comic strips before I ever did Elric, so I didn’t really move on. I started doing the Jerry Cornelius stories, which related to modern times, in 1964.

Elric the movie

You’ve recently mentioned in your online forum that an Elric movie is in the works. Can you tell us more?

Yes, I’m working with Chris and Paul Weitz. After the success of About A Boy they wanted to do an epic and Chris is an old Elric fan. They came to see me and we hit it off. I just heard Universal want to do the picture, but it’s early days yet.

At what stage of the development process are you?

Very early discussions between my people and Universal’s people!

Can you tell us about the changes to the story that you’re making to accommodate the needs of the cinematic medium?

Yes, I want the chance to improve the dynamics of the originals, which were written out of order and over a long period. I like movies to be movies and books to be books. I see no point in producing a slavish version of the books.

How involved to you hope to be in the story, development, and writing of the film?

Quite a bit. The Weitz brothers want me involved and so far we’ve worked very well together on the proposal and so on.

What writers would you like to see tackling the screenplay? Any “dream team” picks to direct?

We sort of think people will appear when they know the film is about to be made!

Who do you see as Elric? Moonglum? Cymoril? Arioch? Yrkoon?

The only actor I’d really like to see in the movie is one of my stage favourites, Simon Russell Beale, who did a wonderful (plump) Richard 3 at Stratford a few years ago. He’s a wonderful actor. Good singer, too.

If you were to appear in a cameo, who might you imagine yourself as?

Smiorgan Baldhead, though I’d have to shave my scalp!

[Editorial interjection: Since this interview was conducted, Mr. Moorcock has mentioned in his online forum that Jude Law’s name had come up in consideration for the role of Elric.]

Elric’s role in the destruction of Melniboné, I imagine, will make a persuasive case for itself as a potential focus of the tale. Can you mention the saga’s highlights that you hope to address in the film, such as this particular event?

Yes, the current proposal ends with the destruction of Melniboné as a result of Elric’s decision to accept the dark power of the Black Sword.

[Next: Mr. Moorcock’s literary novels.]

32 thoughts on “Michael Moorcock Interview, Part 2

  1. I thought that Guy Pearce might be a good choice for Elric. He’s an excellent actor with a sort of broody quality which I think would lend well to an interpretation of Elric. Also, well, he looks like Elric!

  2. A similar series to the White Wolf omnibusses came out published by Orion in the UK. The two sets were very similar but not identical. I don’t recall off the top of my head that the Orion had a volume for the Mars series, for instance, and I’m too lazy to go down to my basement and check my complete (all signed) Orion set. I notice that I bought the White Wolf Mars anthology and I have to presume I had a good reason for that.

    BTW – I don’t suppose anyone is working on filming Karl Edward Wagner’s Kane. That would have the rather keen possibility of mixing ancient world sword and sorcery with early 20th Century settings.

  3. I think that Jude Law would make a magnificent Elric. Possibly even Guy Pearce. But yes…Jude Law…would be perfect.

  4. The thought of a well-done Elric movie is absolutely thrilling!

    Jude would be awesome. They really need to get Stormbringer right. It looks stupid in many of the renditions I have seen.

    Hopefully they will shoot for a LOTR-league production!

  5. I would like to see either Ralph Fiennes, Jude Law, Ioan Gruffudd or why not Christian Bale
    as the tormented albino?

    Or rather..Johnny Winter…

    Anyway, it’s ironic to think that Jude LAW should play the role as Elric, a man beset by CHAOS. Especially as Law and Chaos are the main opposing forces in Moorcock’s books.

  6. i just hope that MM isn’t gonna really change the story – i wanna see the elric i know in the story i know.

  7. Jude Law sounds like a good choice, and I understand MM’s desire for a British Actor, but what about an American like Johnny Depp?

  8. What about Jason Issacs/ Jeremy Irons as Yrkoon.
    Milla Jovovich as cymoril . Jude Law is a good idea or Orlando Bloom for Elric.Director Ridley Scott !!!!! Also a good idea to recruit modern interpreters of Medieval long sword & sword & buckler to avoid thigs like the pointless spinning attacks used often [eg Legend although a nice film]

  9. MM is one of my most favorite authors besides Glen Cook and Ed Greenwood. With the right funding I believe the Elric saga could be as big a hit as The Lord of the Rings. Johnny Depp would make an excellant Elric he has the sunken cheekbones and gloomy expression for it.

  10. yes indeed for mr. depp, he is elric. about time a film was made anyway i just hope hollywood doesn’t screw up the original brilliance of the saga.

  11. Hate to be pessimistic about it, but it’ll never happen; atleast, not to the satisfaction of long-time fans. LOTR could be made into PG-13 without too much sacrifice to the original story. But such a production done right will by neccessity be a huge budget production (LOTR for example). In order to make that money back, a PG-13 rating would be required (R rated movies, as a rule, just don’t get that high a return). And WE all know, that to do Elric as PG-13, well, you might as well remake the Godfather movies as G for what it’ll be worth.

    Don’t get me wrong. I would LOVE to see the movie. I loved Elric (I think maybe I loved the relationship between he and Stormbringer the most, actually) every bit as much as I did LOTR. And think it would make a great bit of cinema. But let’s face it, Elric just doesn’t have the following that LOTR did in order to back the movie.

    And for what it’s worth…Johnny Depp or Jude Law? Please, no. Depp made a fine pirate, but not a brooding albino. Give us a relative unknown, please.

  12. I’d like to cast my vote for Jude Law. He’s got the look AND the acting skill. I agree wholeheartedly with previous posts about the film’s rating. PG-13 would be a travesty. To do the story right, it needs to be dark and quite violent. But we all know that the movies are more of a business than an art these days. In the mind of a studio exec, the film will make more money if teenie boppers can go see it. Just look at what happened with the live action SPAWN film. A dark and pretty kickass character was turned into a pussified version of itself. The thing that I think it has going for it is that The Weitz brothers are producing and they are Elric fans. Also, Moorcock himself will no doubt have an active role in the production and I don’t think he’d be willing to let his intellectual property be butchered like that. So in a perfect world, Jude Law will be Elric and the movie will be targeting an ADULT audience, with a big fat R branded on it by the MPAA.

  13. an unkown would be good in the part, although i think viggo mortessen may do justice to the brooding albino. i agree wholeheartedly to elric fans that have emphasized the need for an adult rating. drugs, drinking souls and elrics dilema are adult concepts. although i read the books when i was 15 and understood perfectally what was what. i also read LOTR around the same time or ealier. i understood and loved both so i think the same classifation could be applied as was LOTR to Elric. i just hope in the film incarnation elric is what MM had in mind.

  14. Love the stories. Love the idea of making a movie that is not a recap of the written works. Of the actors mentioned, I like the last idea best, James Marsters would be perfect.

  15. Love the stories. Love the idea of making a movie that is not a recap of the written works. Of the actors mentioned, I like the last idea best, James Marsters would be perfect.

  16. There is no way I could relay the shock of seeing Jude’s name for Elric. Two years ago, I wrote out who would be what character if there was ever a movie. Jude Law was who I picked for Elric. That was before I even heard there may be a movie. If that’s not fate I don’t know what is. I can just see him lounging on the Ruby Throne. It’s all in the eyes. But yes, seeing Jude’s name stopped my heart and gave me a wicked case of the heebie-jeebies.

  17. About time we get Elric of Melnibone to the silver screen. Its fitting to have a British actor play Elric, seeing how the author is of that nationality. I like Jude Law, but I think Jason Issacs would be outstanding. He is one of the most underated actors out there and he can evoke fear, nobility, trajedy and sympathy with a glance. Ridley Scott isn’t a bad choice to direct this, but the action needs to be faster paced like Black Hawk Down, rather than Legend.Mr. Moorcock needs to be involved for this to work, but I have great faith in this being a monumental success. I think the LOTR films proved that fantasy is a viable, if not fully matured film genre. There is no way why these films can’t be made well and succeed. Hollywood should be all over this project. Don’t drop the ball Universal! Ask Miramax about the Rings trilogy.

  18. I don’t have a problem if this is released PG-13 if that’s what they have to do to make the money. A PG-13 movie can be made quite disturbing with enough creativity and hard work, and if this would bring the young crowd to see the movies, and if some of them then went and bought the books, then it’s a good thing in my opinion!

  19. It is almost 2005. Has anyone gone about and checked Mr. Moorcock or the Weitz brothers on a status of the project?

  20. I’m almost put off by this whole idea. I’ve read Elric books with te idea of making a movie, and always decided it was COMPLETELY impossible. Frankly I think that Universal rushed into an option on the saga, hoping to cash in on the LOTR craze before they had ANY idea what they where getting themselves into. With a R rating, and a LOTR budget, (neither of which I imagine Universal would be willing to do) MAYBE… The problem is that if left intact, Elric will NEVER connect with the casual movie goer enough to justify the budget it would require in order to make a profit, it’s simply impossible. Us Elric fans are not enough to pay for the movie by ourselves. A few (but I’d wager not many) casual movie goers will go hoping it’s like LOTR, but they will hate it since they won’t get it at all. And most people won’t even bother with it, it’s doomed to failure. The movie will of course be less successful if they change it to widen the audiance, because then the Elric fans will be alienated, and the casual audicance still probably won’t like it. Honestly I don’t think it’s going to happen, like i said I think Universal Optioned Elric just because it was a popular fantasy series, and they want their own fantasy trilogy, and I think they’ll call the whole thing off when they relise that they will never make any money with it.

  21. an elric movie would by necessity have to be very different from the books.
    i am not a fan of jude law as elric, though i could easily see james marsters of “buffy/angel” fame playing the part.

    a pg-13 release would be critical to thrive, although there should definitely be an R rated version dvd release with about an hour of extra footage, heh heh.

  22. James Marsters. Brilliant suggestion! And he mimics a perfect British dialect, if that accent is what they are aiming for..

  23. yeah! and Elric and a dragonlance movie must come to the big screen we nead some more fantasy stuff!with a director with the same Peter Jackson still!

  24. Folks it looks like the Jude Law thing is all hype. MM is favoring Paul Bettany (Chaucer in A Knight’s Tale) for the part of Elric. I’ve seen some mock-ups of Bettany in Elric makeup and he looks perfect!

    Although there’s hope that Johnny Depp my play the warrior priest, Rakhir the Red Archer. MM also has made suggestions for some other folks to appear… The absolutely gorgeous Aishwarya Rai as Cymoril. Either Joaquin Pheonix or Simon Russell Beale as Yyrkoon. I would like to throw in Brendan Gleesan for the part of Moonglum.

  25. i think what might be interesting is to do a low key moody character based screenplay with limited special fx. Don’t get me wrong, i loved LOTR although i thought each movie was waaay too long, I just think it would be more interesting to make a fantasy film but almost in a documentary style, almost like the first conan movie with swarzy, i guess i’m tired of 3d special effects although the work on narnia blew me away… I just love all the darkness and brooding of the elric saga. hey and why not chris rock for moonglum while i’m at it.

  26. I hope they have trouble getting an R rating and this shouldn’t be for children. I’m 37 and don’t flinch at a movie such as Hellraiser or The Thing. I think most Elric fans are in this boat with me. And I want some things such as some visages of Arioch to really make me piss my pants. I want to see a river of vomit flowing down the center aisle of the theater. DO IT DO IT DO IT! Please no Orlando Bloom.

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