The name John August you might not recognize right away -- but he is
the man responsible for writing the theatrical characters for the
new bread of Charlie's Angels. August has blended the
classic series into a successful theatrical franchise for Sony
Pictures. With two theatrical episodes under his speaker
phone -- August took some heavenly time to chatted with me...and I
ask the man himself the toughest question regarding the scene with
Jaclyn Smith... Here is the Q&A with John August on Creating
Angels! ~ Mike Pingel
Pingel: How did the story line for the "bad" angel aka Madison Lee
John August: We all thought it was important to acknowledge those years between the TV series and the films - and filling in those missing
pieces was something we always wanted to do. While developing the first
film, I thought up a former angel named Madison Lee -- she was referred
as one of the in-between angels. We even cleared a Demi Moore photo for
the "Wall of Angels" in the first movie which we never ended up shooting. So we always talked about the fact that we wanted to have
that constant mythology. There were three completely different plots
for the sequel we talked about doing. Two of those versions included
the Madison Lee character as the villain and the third one didn't. That was the one we began developing, but eventually her character got
folded back into it.
Pingel: Keeping with the "Angel's Essence" -- what do you use to keep the Angel's characters real?
August: To me, it was always important with the sequel not to think of
it just as Charlie's Angels 2, but as the second episode of a TV series
which costs $100 million dollars and three years to shoot. TV series
have good track record of developing their characters and that was sort
of what I was going for in the new film. We always knew there would be
some changes in the characters. The boyfriends were coming back but not
in the same form as before.
The film is balanced with the Angels personal lives and office work.
That was a priority for Drew and I when we sat down to make the first
movie. We wanted the women to be extremely professional when they are
on the job and giant dorks when they are off the job. In essence, they
are trying to balance their crazy work life and crazy personal life.
It was difficult to find the time in both the movies to make both of those
elements work. It's probably the biggest challenges in the Charlie's
Pingel: The scene with Jaclyn Smith: many have emailed me asking, "Is Kelly Garrett dead??"
August: Kelly Garrett is absolutely not dead. In the first movie we tried to get a cameo with the original three angels and we never were able to
fit it in right. So in every version of the sequel which was developed
and discussed, there was always a scene with Dylan's character and Kelly Garrett. It was always about Dylan's character thinking she would
have to leave the agency at some point. Kelly Garrett was the perfect
person to talk about that, since Kelly had stayed with the agency though all the changes.
In early versions, Kelly Garrett was much more real. In fact, she got
involved in a fight sequence with the Thin Man. In the version we ended
up shooting, it all happened in Dylan's head, but Kelly Garrett is certainly alive. Like a Yoda moment - Kelly Garrett is there to offer
her Angel wisdom.
Pingel: What is your favorite part of Full Throttle?
August: It's tough. There are moments in the script that are my favorite parts
and in the film, they are a little different. In the script, my favorite moment is at Hot Dog on the Stick - the conversation between
Dylan and Alex about what if you're the last angel left. It sets up with this "Three's
Company" level of misunderstanding between Dylan and
In the final movie my favorite moment is probably the fight inside the
ships hull - which is a really well-staged sequence -- which I had nothing to do with it at all.
What was it like recording the commentary for the DVD?
August: It was a great experience. I recorded it with Cormac & Marianne Wibberley, the other writers on the film. We wrote at different times,
but we'd always had phone conversations. What was unique about that commentary is two very different perspectives. We both think the movie
is about different things. They think it's about family and I think it's about identity. It was interesting watching the movie together
and comparing notes.
Pingel: How does it affect you as a writer when others are brought on to re-write your concept?
August: You try to develop a thick skin about it. Going into the sequel and knowing everything that happened on the first movie, well, you think
you would be smart and detach yourself emotionally from the storm you
know is coming. Still, it's frustrating. There was a smarter and sweeter movie that I really wanted to make, but that didn't end up
being the movie we shot. That's frustrating because there were a lot of
choices made which wouldn't have been my choice.
Pingel: What's the difference between doing a $100 million dollar movie and
a lower budget film like "Go"?
August: Not being second-guessed. Because "Go" was only going to cost 5 million dollars, there was a level of safety. You could make risky
decisions -- in terms of tone, or character, or plot -- and no one was
going to freak out on you. Versus at every level with Charlie's
Angels, it becomes, "could this be funnier, could this be bigger,
shouldn't this be sweeter, shouldn't this be something else?" You feel
more ownership with a movie like "GO" than you do with Charlie's
Angels because you are directly involved with all the decisions that
get made. "Go" wasn't a committee. "Charlie's" was.
Pingel: Did you watch Charlie's Angels when you were growing up?
August: Yeah! I watched every episode of
Charlie's Angels growing up. I was
young, probably seven-years old when I was watching it in syndication.
Over the course of a summer, I would watch every episode. So when it
came time to write the movies, I understood what was so great about the
girls and how weirdly proud you are every time they succeed. That was
really important for me to get into both movies.
Whom is your favorite TV Angel?
August: Jaclyn Smith (Kelly Garrett) by a 1000 yards. I really like all of
them, even some of the later-and-less-popular angels. Cheryl Ladd (Kris Munroe) was fantastic and others had their strengths as well.
Kelly was my favorite because she was nice. She was warm. At the time, I probably really liked Sabrina because she was the smart one --
but Kelly Garrett has stayed pure and true to me.
Pingel: Ever worked with any of the Classic Angels?
August: I only met Jaclyn Smith at the premiere, so I introduced myself and said, "Hey, I wrote you into the sequel!" She was extremely nice. And
gorgeous. She's everything you hope a celebrity will be when you meet
Pingel: Favorite angels of the films?
August: I truly adore all three angels, both the actresses and the characters.
They are all sort of pieces of me. Alex seems so tough, yet she's probably the most vulnerable of all of them. Natalie, so naive but so
strong - I love that she's a genius and an idiot. Dylan is the classic
bad girl with a heart of gold.
Pingel: Anything you would change in Full Throttle?
August: I wish the second movie would be a little more girl-centered. I feel
that the movie tried so hard to appeal to teenage boys that it missed
out on some of the of what was pure about a girl's relationship to Charlie's Angels.
Also, for my taste, the sexuality got pushed too
far. If I were a twelve-year old girl, I might be sort of spooked by
it. That was one thing I thought that didn't need to happen. In the
first film, you have Dylan hanging naked by a sheet over a cliff. That's comic nudity. In the second movie, you have Natalie swirling in
a giant champagne glass, and it's just burlesque. There's nothing funny about it to take the edge off the sexuality.
Ideas for Charlie's Angels 3?
August: Well, the third one was suppose to be the introduction
of Madison Lee,
so it won't be that. We'll see if these three actresses want to come
back, or we'll do something different. The fortunate thing about Charlie's Angels is that franchise is set up so that angels can be
changed out - and this sequel tips its hand to that. From Sony's side,
while they would love to have a franchise, it's not their top goal. They would be happy enough not to do anymore if it didn't make business
do check out Charlie's
Angels: Full Throttle
available in stores now and also John August's classic hit