‘YOU never know what’s coming in life,’ says Rupert Sanders. ‘Around every corner there’s something unexpected, and that’s life. You just have to brush yourself off and continue moving forward the best you can. Everyone makes mistakes. I am bound to make more mistakes and I wouldn’t expect my life to be exciting if I didn’t.’
The 46-year-old director is talking about the moment when what should have been a fairy tale turned sour. His debut feature, Snow White & The Huntsman, had been on release for around six weeks and was on its way to chalking up almost $400million at the box office. His wife, Liberty Ross, had enjoyed a role in the film, playing the heroine’s mother. But then, in July 2012, US Weekly published pictures revealing that Sanders was involved with his leading lady, Kristen Stewart.
That Stewart was with Robert Pattinson at the time only added to the fire. Ross was devastated. She and Sanders had begun dating when she was in her late teens. They had married in 2002 and had two young children, Skyla and Tennyson. In spite of Sanders’ public apology, stating his hope that they’d get through it, Ross filed for divorce.
Was he worried that after working so hard to get to the top table, the affair might undermine his position?
‘If you took people off the table for a momentary lapse,’ he replies, ‘there would be no one making art.’
Good point. Certainly, Steven Spielberg didn’t care about past indiscretions when he called Sanders to talk about directing Ghost In The Shell, a live-action interpretation of the Japanese manga and anime series of the same name. Sanders was working on a Napoleon movie at the time but when that stalled he jumped at the chance.
It looks like a good move. Sanders is a master stylist, his skills honed on a string of high-end commercials for the likes of Guinness, Nike, Adidas and Sony.
‘I wanted to make a cine-anime,’ he says. ‘We used a specific palette and framed everything in a graphic way wherever possible to give it a very anime feel.’
The film stars Scarlett Johansson as a cyborg trying to find her true identity and, though less philosophical than the original 1995 anime, it is an intelligent picture the studio hopes will launch a franchise.
‘We’d had great reaction in Asia and that’s wonderful because, ultimately, we want it to be part of the legacy,’ Sanders says. ‘You could tell that people were appreciative that we’d honoured the original.’
For Sanders, the fairy tale might just be starting up again.
Ghost In The Shell is out now