Josh Trank On How He Ended Up Directing VENOM And His Plans For An “Uncomfortable Character Story”

Shortly after directing Chronicle, Josh Trank was being courted by just about every major studio in Hollywood. Among the projects he soon found himself linked to was Venom, but as we recently learned, Sony Pictures weren’t on board with the R-Rated vision he had for the iconic anti-hero.

Earlier today, we talked to Josh about his new film Capone starring Tom Hardy (which will be available on VOD on Tuesday, May 12), but I had to ask the filmmaker more about what direction he was planning to take Venom in. He started by explaining how he landed the job, and revealed that he’s actually a big fan of the character and artist Todd McFarlane’s interpretation of him.

“It’s funny [Laughs] because that came full circle. When Tom told me he was going to do Venom, I was like, ‘I was going to do Venom!’ [Laughs],” Trank explains, recalling conversations he had with Capone‘s star. “That was something I was really excited about. About a month after Chronicle came out, because I was doing all these general meetings with everybody, I met with Amy Pascal and the senior executives at Sony. It was a really cool meeting and Amy Pascal is really sweet and everybody there is really cool. They loved Chronicle and wanted to find a project that made sense, and Amy brought up Venom out of nowhere.”

“I’m a huge fan of Todd McFarlane in general and Venom was just a character I’ve always loved,” he continues. “I immediately thought about The Mask. This could be like a really cool synthesis of everything about The Mask that I loved, but infused into the lore of this iconic Marvel character.”

From there, things started moving quickly. “We were off to the races, we made a deal for it, and I was really excited. I brought on a very good friend of mine Robert Siegel, who was the writer and director of Big Fan, and he’s somebody who was a mentor of mine when I was much younger. He was also the original editor in chief of The Onion, a genius and somebody you would love to talk to. He has a great mind. Something he is great at is tapping into the most uncomfortable sides of a character portrait, but I definitely miscalculated being within the studio system with that kind of aesthetic. I thought this was an opportunity to make something really character-y, uncomfortable, and break ground in terms of having this super nuanced uncomfortable character story with the branding of a massive four quadrant superhero film. We turned in the treatment, and they didn’t like it. That kind of says everything, but the irony is that Tom ended up doing it later on.”

As for what the director thinks of the Venom movie that ended up finding its way into theaters, he admits to not having had chance to watch it yet, but is enthusiastic about seeing Hardy’s take on the character, especially as it, in many ways, relates to what he had planned for Eddie Brock. 

“I still haven’t had the opportunity to see it because I’ve been working on Capone as the sole editor, and I’ve been working on my own Tom Hardy movie this whole time and didn’t want to have any crossover with what they were doing. The fact Tom and I are so in sync with each other, it makes sense he would go into that using the perfect Jim Carrey as The Mask template type of character for Eddie Brock and Venom. I’m so happy it did as well as it did as it’s cool to know everyone loves Tom Hardy for that, and he’s one actor out there who’s really gonna go there while at the same time having real bona fide potential as an action star. It’s so rare.”

Despite missing out on Venom, Trank would go on to helm Fantastic Four, and the rest is history. However, he’s making a comeback in a big way with Capone, and you’ll be able to read our review of the film early next week. As for Venom, some fans loved it, and some hated it, but this complex take on the character the filmmaker describes sounds legitimately fascinating.

Next week, we’ll have more highlights from our interview, focusing on why Hardy was the right choice to play Al Capone and the filmmaker’s thoughts on potentially writing, directing and editing all his future projects after Fantastic Four. For now, you can check out the Capone trailer below!


Once a ruthless businessman and bootlegger who ruled Chicago with an iron fist, Alfonse Capone was the most infamous and feared gangster of American lore. At the age of 47, following nearly a decade of imprisonment, dementia rots Alfonse’s mind and his past becomes present. Harrowing memories of his violent and brutal origins melt into his waking life. As he spends his final year surrounded by family with the FBI lying in wait, this ailing patriarch struggles to place the memory of the location of millions of dollars he hid away on his property.

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