DETAILS: You got your start directing gritty organized-crime thrillers like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, but your latest film is the mega-budget Sherlock Holmes sequel. Are you done with contemporary London gangsters?
Guy Ritchie: I think so. But I'm not done with caricatures. I love caricatures. So gangsters might inevitably pop up somewhere.
DETAILS: Were you ever worried about reprisals from real-life gangsters who objected to being caricatured?
Guy Ritchie: No, villains are caricatures. They've all got these ridiculous nicknames. And by the way, after Lock, Stock, if you had a moniker that had something to do with the amount of fingers you've chopped off someone, you got a book deal. Everyone did well out of it.
DETAILS: You've admitted to basing some of your film characters on unsavory acquaintances from your past, including a murderer or two.
Guy Ritchie: Oh, I've met several characters like that. I went to a football match with a whole gang of these people, and they couldn't be more genteel. And they talked about stabbing people the same way we would talk about a stag party. But my friends aren't active villains any longer. They've all been gentrified. As you grow older, the idea is that you exchange your looks and youth for wisdom, and one of the things that is sacrificed is violence.
DETAILS: You used to be a bit of a brawler. How long has
it been since you were in a fight?
Guy Ritchie: I haven't had an altercation for, I don't know, 15 years? I did go through a truculent period once. I smoked a lot of weed and drank a lot of booze, and when I tried to give them both up, I thought I'd take up street fighting. I came unstuck on a number of occasions. I was just looking for adrenaline. But if someone said something rude to me now, I'd just accept it. It's an age thing. Extreme violence is for young men. You look like an arse when you're rolling around on the street at 43 years old.
DETAILS: You've practiced martial arts for years to
stay in shape.
Guy Ritchie: Between the ages of 18 and 22, karate was the only thing that I turned to religiously. It's where I got discipline from. Being screamed at and realizing that the only thing you have to fight against is how much of a puss you are. Now I do Brazilian jujitsu five days a week. It's like chess for wrestlers. And also, it's good for old men, because you don't get your nose pressed in or your joints snapped.
DETAILS: I've heard you're also a fisherman.
Guy Ritchie: I can get pretty philosophical about fishing. "Who's the fisherman, and who's the fish?" I read a book recently that said when you cast a line, it's a tentative connection with your unconscious and the natural world. And when you hook into something, you're not sure what you'll resurrect from the dead. There's a bunch of philosophy that's wasted on the youth. As you become an older fart, you're not so motivated by results as you are by the means by which you achieve them. Anyone north of 40 starts to work this out. None of this shit meant anything to me 10 years ago.
DETAILS: You recently became a father for the third time. What kind of life advice do you give your kids?
Guy Ritchie: I don't. I'm fucking glad no one gave me too much advice. You've got to work it out for yourself. What works for me might not work for anyone else. Because everyone told me that to be good at school was important, but for me it wasn't. So I am anti-school. And I'm anti people putting so much pressure on kids and robbing their childhood by giving them so much homework. I think if kids want to arse around, then they should.
DETAILS: You married Madonna when you were still a fledgling director and she was the most famous woman in the world. What was that adjustment like?
Guy Ritchie: I don't know. By the way, I enjoyed my first marriage. It's definitely not something I regret. The experience was ultimately very positive. I love the kids that came out of it, and I could see no other route to take. But you move on, don't you? You're right, I stepped into a soap opera, and I lived in it for quite a long period of my life. I'll probably be more eloquent on it 10 years from now.
DETAILS: What did you learn from that marriage?
Guy Ritchie: When you end up with a lot of the things you set out to chase and find that you've stumbled into all sorts of hollow victories, then you become deeply philosophical. I'm quite happy that that experience was accelerated for me. I'm glad I made money, in other words. And I'm glad I got married.
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