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Friday, December 02, 2011

Trigan Empire: The Movie!

About two and a half years ago, I was talking to someone and had one of those "Don't tell anyone, but..." conversations that fires you up to the core. The kind of excitement where you can feel your heart thumping in your eardrums and brings you out in a momentary sweat.

"Don't tell anyone, but Trigan Empire has just been optioned as a movie," said... well, it was "a good human source" as Nick Davies recently said. One in a position to know.

Film projects move with the speed of glaciers, but that single sentence teaser thirty months ago looks like it is about to pay off. A script for a Trigan Empire movie has been making its way around some of the biggest Hollywood production companies and studios and has been receiving a lot of attention. It's still in the early stages in film terms but there's a hell of a lot of enthusiasm being generated and it shouldn't be long — weeks or months rather than years — before more details start to leak out.

I think it would be fair to say that most movie projects are usually put together from the bottom up, with producers and executive producers usually in place before any marquee names are attached. Of course, that's the complete opposite of what fans want to know... they want to know who the director is and who will be playing the characters. The search for a director moves to England next week but, before that happens, there's plenty of fun to be had out of casting a movie for yourself.

So... I'm throwing this open to you all: who would you want to see directing the Trigan Empire movie and who would you cast in the leading roles?

To help you along, a few years back I put together a piece about the Trigan Royal Family for one of the Trigan Empire reprint volumes published by Rob van Bavel.

You'll see top left we have Trigo, his brothers and their families, some of whom died before the action really started to get going and some who were introduced in later episodes as required by the plots. The main family members to look at are the three brothers, Trigo, Brag and Klud; then you have Janno, Trigo's nephew, his friends Roffa and Keren, plus the architect and chief scientist of Trigan City, Peric and his daughter Salvia. (Fans of the strip will know that Trigo was not married in the early days of the strip, so his wife, Ursa, and offspring may not get a look-in.)

Who would you cast?

And who would you want to see directing the film?

I've a couple of ideas for the latter, both of whom would make a fantastic job of the movie. I guess the obvious first choice for everyone would be Ridley Scott. Gladiator was a fantastic movie and Trigan Empire is more historical fantasy than hard science fiction. Scott's also a fan of comics and may well have read the strip when he was a kid.

Second choice would be Duncan Jones who has made two superb movies: Moon and Source Code. And we know he's a fan of the Trigan Empire as you can hear in this interview:

As I said above, it's likely to be some time before the marquee names are attached to the movie. Until then, you can be your own film-maker and cast the movie how you please.

The main characters (and I'm only guessing at who might feature) can be described thus in quick brushstrokes: Trigo is intelligent, thoughtful and a born leader of men, who will put his people first over his own safety; Brag is a more straight-forward hit first, think later kind of character — a fighter not a talker but not stupid — and Klud a villainous snake but of royal blood, maybe the most complex of the three brothers. Janno is a brash, brave and somewhat impulsive adventure-seeker and Peric a scientist and artist (he designed the beautiful Trigan City) who helps shape Trigo's dreams and turns them into reality.

To get you started, how about Ian McKellan as Peric and Russell Crowe as Trigo? You can debate the merits of his accent in Robin Hood, but I don't think you can deny he's a good actor in the kind of leader-of-men role that Trigo would demand! Or Karl Urban, already the lead in another British comics-based movie but a fine actor in whatever role he takes. At least we know these three can ride horses. How about Gary Oldman for the venemous Klud?

Now the ball's rolling, over to you...


Mike O'Doherty (see Comments below) points out that Trigo's appearance may well have been based on John Richardson as he appeared in She. With the addition of a Kirk Douglas dimple in his chin, he could well be right. You can also see the same resemblance in Janno, Trigo's nephew.

(* Trigan Empire © IPC Media.)


  1. As a fan of Trigan Empire, I think it won't work as a movie. The premise of Empire is simple, and the stories are character-rather than device-driven. While the first trait may translate well in the movie medium, the second works better in the mini-series format.

  2. Hi Azlan,

    I would have agreed with you, say, twenty years ago. But nowadays, it's not unusual to have two-and-a-half hour plus movies which, if they're good, allows plenty of scope for both character and action. I think the sheer spectacle of Trigan Empire will look fantastic on the big screen in the same way that, say Gladiator (if you want Roman) or Avatar (if you want low tech vs. high tech) looked.

  3. It would be wonderful if a Trigan movie does appear. However, it fared it would promote a huge amount of interest in the original stripm stories and cook collections. I never expected such a development when I read the stories each week back in the 60's.
    I believe Kirk Douglas was the inspiration for Don Lawrence's rendition of Trigo. Liv Tyler would make a beguiling Salvia and Cate Blanchett would make a suitable Ursa. Ernest Borgnine could play the ailing father of the triplets in order to explain their ancestry and destiny at the start of the movie/saga to be joint rulers. Alan Rickman as Klud?

  4. Hmm. As I've mentioned to you before Steve I reckon Trigo looked more like John Richardson as Leo Vincey in the film of H Rider Haggard's 'She' (which I think would have been out around the time TE was being developed).
    I remember when Gladiator came out thinking a film of TE in a similar mould would be a sure-fire hit - nice to see it happening at last (hope it does). As for casting how about Brad Pitt for Trigo? Please not the ubiquitous Ian McKellen for Trigo - how about Morgan Freeman?

  5. Ridley Scott has the experience in Roman and Alien and Science Fiction films! Ridley for director

  6. Chris Weston has just posted this on Twitter:

    Had a meeting with a film producer to discuss a possible comic book adaptation very close to my heart:…!/westonfront/status/143835735408123905

  7. One thing I've never been certain about - just how do you pronounce "Trigan"? Even Mr Jones and his interviewer don't seem to agree.

  8. For years I thought it was "tree-gan" but whenever I've heard it pronounced (when ordering the set of 12 books etc), it always seems to be "try-gan".

  9. I've been hearing it in my head like "trig" as in "trigger" myself. Anyway, could this be "Britain's" answer to Heldensagen Vom Kosmosinsel? XD

  10. Isn't Heldensagen Vom Kosmosinsel the Japanese anime Legend of the Galactic Heroes from way back? I'm not sure I see any similarity: Trigan is planet bound where Galactic Heroes is about a Prussian galactic empire with FTL battlecruisers.

  11. On the pronounciation of Trigan: I've interviewed a number of people close to the strip and I believe all pronounced it "Try-gan"... in fact "Try-gun" would be even closer. And the Emperor was "Try-go".

  12. This sounds too good to be true. The Trigan Empire was a big influence on the creation of Nikolai Dante. In fact I think the exact words were "Lets do an old school style sci-fi epic like the Trigan Empire"
    Fingers crossed and all that.

  13. Osaethelsieg in Australia3 Jul 2012, 16:46:00

    Let's hope it really happens!A Trigan Empire film is one that I would just as surely go to see as I will "The Hobbit".But of course it'll be years before we see it released.After all it will be expensive to make,and will require a lot of special effects.Yet the epic stories deserve tens of millions to be spent on them(and the film or films to be three hours long).Peric in his wisdom would counsel patience.And I think Trigo would too.

  14. I wonder how receptive Hollywood will be to an epic planetary adventure following the utter failure of John Carter? At the time of writing John Carter has just finished its theatrical release and has earned $73m in the US and $210m in the rest of the world. As it cost $250m and marketing throughout the world will add over $100m to that figure, the film has lost an incredible amount of money. "One of the biggest flops in cinema history," according to this BBC report.

    Will any studio now risk money on The Trigan Empire?

  15. Been a fan of Trigan Empire since my high school days when I chanced to look up Look and Learn magazines(they don't make mags like that anymore). Anyway, I dare mention a big name in the movie industry as producer, John Lucas! Any takers?

  16. A film of The Trigan Empire would be fantastic. Hollywood would surely mess it up, however, and I can't think its fan base would be big enough for a big studio to take a risk on.

  17. The fan base isn't a major factor - how many people buy Thor or Avengers comics compared to how many people saw the characters on the cinema screen. Hollywood is after ideas and then they'll spend $50-100 million on advertising to make sure everyone knows about it.

    But I still think the chances of a Trigan Empire film happening is now less due to the failure of John Carter [of Mars].

  18. Forget the Americans mucking it up. Go LOTR style with Jackson directing with Liam Hemsworth (Trigo), Sam Worthington (Brag) and Tom Hiddleston as Klud. Sean Connery out of retirement for one more film as Peric.

  19. I've loved the Trigan Empire even since discovering it as a kid, during '5 tasks of Trigo'.
    The Menace from the Sea blew me away, that destroying machine would be amazing on a movie or series.
    The red death was another story that captured my imagination.

    I do feel one thing, having waited all my life to see it on film, hoping, and waiting, I feel two things are VERY important if Trigan Empire is to succeed.

    The looks of the characters, Trigo, Peric, Janno, Roffa, Keren etc are a major part of the stories identity. I lost touch with the strip after don Lawrence left as the art never recreated the characters properly afterwards.... they weren't... THEM!!!!.. I feel its important that their basic look is kept as close as possible

    The other thing is that the Trigan Empire is a series of stories with regular charactors and ongoing plots, imagry. The only way to accurately translate this is as a TV SERIES.

    I'm a fledgling producer and would love to do this.

    I'd make the characters visually accurate and use the actual original stories as scripts.

    Another method of doing Trigan accurately would be to do it as a 3D animation series. That way the striking visual drawing style could be faithfully reproduced within the series.

    I really want to see this project work.

  20. I think everything can be good movie storie if other part of movie creating are great. So i don't see way not. I will be first to watch this movie :).

  21. Looking forward to this movie. this would be really great.Hope it happens soon!