Directing Success: Brett Ratner

By Kamal Hotchandani


 I go with my gut. If I read something and it affects me, and I feel something, then I go for it.

Brett Ratner is one of Hollywood’s most successful directors; his feature films, which include epics like X-Men: The Last Stand, Money Talks, Rush Hour, Rush Hour 2, and Red Dragon, have grossed more than $1 billion worldwide. Haute Living has the opportunity to speak with the prolific director, producer, writer, and photographer about his goals, dreams, and how he strongly believes that the choices you make in life shape your future in unforeseen ways.

HL Have you always wanted to be a director?
BR I’ve known since I was eight years old. The first actors I used were my mom, my grandparents, and all the people who lived in my apartment complex on Collins Avenue. I did everything, making Miami Vice meets Kung Fu-type movies.

HL How do you go about picking a project today?
BR I don’t really have a strategy. Some directors say, “I want to do three epics, then I am going to do a musical.” I am more of an instinctual guy; I go with my gut. If I read something and it affects me, and I feel something, then I go for it. I have read some great scripts that I didn’t take. I was offered Memoirs of a Geisha but I didn’t do it because I didn’t think I could make a big contribution for it. I think if I can really make a big contribution for a project-make it something special-then I take it on.

HL What has been your favorite project to date?
BR Every movie I have done, I love. Every decision I have made has been very important, because it takes a year to make a film. The movie that I have done that is closest to my heart is Family Man, because I really related to Nick Cage’s character, “Jack Campbell.” Not every choice you make in life is important, but some choices you make affect the rest of your life. I remember, for instance, making a decision when I was told by the admissions office that I did not get into NYU. I made the choice to go to the dean’s office, and I ended up convincing him to let me in. But if I wouldn’t have made that choice, my life would have taken a completely different path. I would have probably still been a director, but I would have been in Miami making movies with my friends.

HL If you could be any character from any movie, who would you be?
BR Al Pacino’s character in The Godfather. I have always said if I wasn’t a director, I’d be a gangster.

HL And if you were a character in one of your movies?
BR I think I would be Magneto [from X-Men: The Last Stand]. It would be cool to be able to bend metal and move bridges.

HL Do you have any advice for aspiring directors?
BR Absolutely! Keep shooting. Make movies. In today’s world, your ability to tell a story is what matters. You can make a two-minute movie and put it on YouTube, and be discovered. Don’t be afraid to fail… There is no reason to not take risks. Believe in yourself, keep going. There is nothing to lose.

HL What projects are you working on now?
BR I have Rush Hour 3 coming out worldwide on August 10th. And I am working on Prison Break [where I am the executive producer]. And I am on Spielberg’s reality show as one of the judges, called On the Lot, which will air in May. We are helping find the next great film director.
HL What does the future hold in store?
BR Hopefully, get married and have a family, but always make movies. I would probably have to work at McDonald’s or something if I didn’t. Making movies is the only thing I know how to do.