Real Steel | Writer John Gatins and Producers Susan Montford and Don Murphy Talk About Family Films and Deleted Scenes
Real Steel is a family film, but producers Don Murphy and Susan Montford had other plans for it when they first brought the short story idea to DreamWorks 7 years earlier. “Susan and I tend to be very dark,” Murphy said. The film contains some violence, swearing, and a deadbeat father main character. “Steven [Spielberg], of course, is sunshine and light and so he was like, ‘put a boy in there’.” The end result is a movie that is sort of a cross between Rocky and The Champ. “We thought we were gonna do a dark, twisted movie with robots and…we ended up with a really commercial movie…that’s not very dark and twisted.”
Real Steel is based on the short story “Steel” by Richard Matheson, author of “I Am Legend”, “What Dreams May Come”, and “The Incredible Shrinking Man”, to name a few. “Richard Matheson is one of these big science fiction guys with an unbelievable career. Susan and I got to know him. He’s in his late eighties. We just screened a film for him, luckily he liked it. he also is very crucial to Steven’s career. He wrote the movie Duel, which was Steven’s first movie. And also he was story editor on “Amazing Stories” for Steven.”
To soften the edges and make the character of Charlie Kenton more likable, Gatins had to re-write certain scenes. “There’s a scene where the kid actually does, early on, when he’s like give me the money and I’ll get out of here. That’s a scene we actually shot where he runs away,” Gatins told us.
Real Steel is a fairly long movie, so certain scenes that Gatins and director Shawn Levy became attached to unfortunately had to be cut from the film. “there was a whole kind of origin story of Max, you learn more about his mom. And there was this whole thing about this butterfly…” Gatins said.
“It’s a great scene but the scene never quite played right.” Don Murphy said.
Gatins, Murphy, and Montford reminisced about the deleted butterfly scene, but have hope that it will appear in the deleted scenes on the DVD release.
We also asked if they had ever considered ending the final battle differently.
“No…Susan and I are very hopeful for a sequel,” said Don Murphy.
The character Bailey (Evangeline Lily) was originally going to be written for a male. Steven Spielberg wanted Bailey to be played by a woman instead.
An older child actor was originally cast to play Max Kenton, and footage was actually shot with him. Steven Spielberg informed them that he thought they should go younger, and a world wide casting search found them Dakota Goyo.
A sequel to Real Steel will explore Atom’s origins.
*Disney/DreamWorks provided me with an all expenses paid trip to Los Angeles for an advancescreening of Real Steel and the opportunity to meet with cast and talent of the film. All opinions expressed are my own.*