Beast Isn’t Just an “Idris Elba vs. Lion” Monster Movie

Check out the trailer, and you’ll see gorgeous vistas, extraordinary panoramas, giraffes, ostriches, elephants… and a rogue lion hell-bent on revenge. 

Unsurprisingly, the lion isn’t real. Mostly, as Kormákur points out, because a real lion would kill you. But the CGI approach came with a lot more advantages. Because this lion wasn’t just any lion.

“It is based loosely on a lion called Scarface that has just passed away,” Kormákur explains of his influences. “That and Brad Pitt in Snatch, believe it or not. I was just trying to explain what kind of physicality I was looking for, like ripped and out-of-control. Kind of a sexy lion, you know? We want villains to be sexy, and in my mind, an animal could be very sexy in a kind of exotic way.”

According to Kormákur, the lion in the original script was too big and chunky for his liking. “It should be as big as they can get, but it’s lean and fast and mean, not like a heavy sausage of a lion. Because I think what scares you and gets to you is something that you connect with reality, and if it’s too big it just starts to feel like Jurassic Park or something.”

This is not that movie. In fact, Kormákur wanted to tell a family story grounded in reality.

“I loved the way [the story] wasn’t over complicated. Because the story is, in some ways, rather straightforward, it allows for the execution to be special. And what I went for, which is unusual in these kinds of movies, is very long takes and trying to put the people in the perspective of the characters as a lion is coming after them. It just feels like you can’t get out of it. You’re there, and the lion is coming at you.”

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