Taking a Deep Sea Stroll with ‘Meg 2’ Director Ben Wheatley

Meg 2: The Trench is taking a bite out of theaters this week! And to answer the most frequently asked question about the movie. Yes they did make a sequel to The Meg. And it was because, as many might have forgotten, the first made half a billion dollars at the worldwide box office! This time around, the directorial duties are being passed down to Free Fire director, Ben Wheatley, who we were given the incredible opportunity to speak with!

Wheatley is a filmmaker of many talents, and one that understands the assignments he’s given incredibly well. From his dramatic approach to the tense Tom Hiddleston-starrer, High Rise. To the low budget exploitation feel of Free Fire. And with Meg 2: The Trench, Wheatley demonstrates a keen knowledge of knowing exactly what kind of movie he’s making: a ridiculously over-the-top good time!

Here’s what he had to say about the Jason Statham vs. Sharks sequel:

NOC: Hi Ben, how are you?  

Wheatley: I’m good, thanks. How you doing?  

Great. Thank you. Thank you so much for this wonderful movie. I took my friend to see it yesterday (shout out to her, Alice). And she whispered to me at the end, “I never have to see another movie again for the rest of my life!”  


I mean, how do you respond to something like that?

Well, I’m I’m incredibly happy about that, but also slightly worried. What am I going to do with the next film I’m making? If she’s not watching. But yeah, I mean, what we were after, what we did strive towards was like pure entertainment as much as we could you know. It was all particularly designed to be like that, to be fun. And we had fun making it so hopefully that shows.

Absolutely. When you’re asked to do a project like Meg 2, a sequel to a movie that was really a modern day equivalent of a ’50s B-movie, how do you toe the line between spoofing and satire, while also taking the material relatively seriously to a degree, and still have fun?

I think you basically have to love those kind of movies to start with. I grew up watching stuff like Them, the giant ant movie, and the Godzilla movies, like Gojira, and watching Ray Harryhausen movies. So I love that stuff, and when I watched as a kid, I took it super seriously. It wasn’t funny. It saddens me now thinking about watching Adam West Batman because I used to think that was really serious. I don’t believe that it’s some campy classic. So I think it is that. You’ve got to believe in it to make the audience believe in it. And if you don’t believe it, if you if you undercut it too much, then you basically break the fun of the thing. You can never be above it as a filmmaker. You’re not looking down on it like it’s kind of trashy. You’ve got to be looking up at it like it’s trying to take the audience back to that feeling of when they were a kid. You want the grin on the look of their faces, like they can’t believe what they’re seeing.

The grin was on my face the entire time. I think most definitely when we talk about the science behind water pressure and trying to escape. If you’re Jason Statham apparently you can definitely do it!

Well it’s true! You don’t see fish wearing metal suits. I think that is a fact!

I think one of the best things about this movie when I was watching The Meg 1, I thought to myself, “this is so good, but you could push it further.” And I think with Meg 2, you guys went there; you pushed it further. At a certain point the ideas just became pure fun science fiction fantasy. You got exosuits. At the end you’ve got full dinosaur kaiju action going on there. I mean, what inspired all of that versus that first movie really just keeping it to the one shark. How did you end up getting that inspiration I guess take it further?

I guess it was building on the first film. And I liked the first film a lot. And we knew that we were big shoes we had to fill with total filming. You know people really responded to it. But we also knew we had to kind of amp up as well so but then you end up with stuff like that, you know the the exosuits come from practicalities. Like they had to walk across the base of the trench, but you can’t walk in more, you just float around… and also you’ve got to give them a fighting chance against other creatures that are down there. So they can’t be too vulnerable. Then this exosuit came, and now they can actually fight back. Not too much, but just enough. Then it kind of goes from there. So the film suggests it’s not like we started going, “Oh cool robot suits.” It kind of came organically. But then we went, “ah cool robot suits!” when we made them.

Honestly, I could use way more exosuits in any other movies. You know. I think Oppenheimer was amazing movie but exosuits in Oppenheimer would have been amazing. I’m just saying!

Yeah! That was definitely lacking exosuits!

So I have to ask, one of the things about you know, a lot of horror movies, even horror comedies, there’s specific tropes pertaining to people of color. We dislike it when we see things that are super tropey. Having people of color dying in the very beginning, not really being used to being the heroes or anything in these stories. I think the one thing about The Meg franchise I really like is that you elevate the characters of color. You actually put them in the starring roles, and they’re as much of a big part of it as Jason Statham is. Your heroes are essentially POCs. When you’re putting together a movie like this, especially one that calls back to those old Hollywood movies where those tropes were big, are you thinking about how to subvert those tropes? Are you thinking about how to make diversity appear a little bit more important in these movies than they were before?

I think it’s just you’re thinking about the audience you’re thinking about who’s going to watch the film, and it’s everywhere. So why would it just be a load of white people? That’s the problem. For me, that’s what diversity is about. The world is multicolored. So why is it not reflected in the cinema? Also the way this [movie] is set is kind of about international operations. So there are characters from all over the world anyway built into the story, so there’s no contrivance there. So that’s basically the thing. But then you’re right. Like, with Page Kennedy’s DJ character; that is a specific shout out to the tropey slaying of African American characters at the beginning of horror films. So, you know, the Hoeber brothers when they wrote this, were really keen to make sure that the idea that, you know, in the other film, he couldn’t swim, so they had to make sure that DJ was supplied with all the stuff that he could use to survive. And he thought about it as well. You know, he was aware of his own trope.

Of course. And he’s just awesome in the movie, by the way. Paige is so great! I think him training him, him having poisoned bullets. Oh, god, it’s just a blast, man. I love it so much. Yeah, I have to ask — Jason. I mean, how is he to work with he just seemed like the most fun guy in the world. What was that like?

Yeah, I mean, he’s basically super aware of his, of his own image and his own place in cinema and he’s everything that he’s doing. He understands what he is to the audience, you know, any study any, brings like a kind of whole you know, decades and decades worth of experience of action, you know, being a hero and all those things. So onset is always a discussion you know, everything is there to kind of make sure that the film gets better. But it’s there is a lot of talk and kind of careful crafting for that stuff. And it’s similar with Wu Jing as well, obviously, coming from that massive Chinese tradition as well. You know, like the onstage giant movies in Chinese movies is kind of quite intense in terms of collaboration. There’s a lot of like, going off script and doing stuff on the moment and changing all. So you have that every day is like a barrage of ideas that you’ve got to kind of wrangle. But then we add a really strong spine of a script and a lot of storyboards and prep. So it all kind of it all met on the floor and then became the film,

Which is wonderful by the way. Just getting to see him rock a polo underwater in an exosuit is like one of the greatest images ever. If you’re given the opportunity to work on The Meg 3 given how insane and how awesome this movie is, where would you take it from here? I mean, like, what are the what other ideas could you possibly do?

Well, if I told you, I’d have to kill you but I mean, I think it would have to be like how Meg 2 sits with The Meg 1, The Meg 3 would sit with Meg 2. So we’d have to be bonkers massive action, like different environments, different creatures, more exosuits. Maybe we have to be enough to bring your friend back to cinema.

And my final question, where is Fun Island and how can I get there from here?

Fun Island? I don’t know. I think it’s probably shut down now because of all the tragic deaths.

Well, you know, I feel like after watching this movie, I’ve been to Fun Island and survived it and came back. Ben, thank you so much. This was absolutely wonderful and amazing job.

Thank you so much!

LONDON, ENGLAND — AUGUST 02: Director, Ben Wheatley attends the special fan screening of “MEG 2: THE TRENCH” at Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on August 02, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for Warner Bros)

Make sure to catch all of the over-the-top insanity of Meg 2: The Trench, swimming into theaters Friday, August 4!

*This interview was conducted during the WGA and SAG/AFTRA strike. To support the strike, please donate to the Entertainment Community Fund.*

3 thoughts on “Taking a Deep Sea Stroll with ‘Meg 2’ Director Ben Wheatley

Comments are closed.