Monday, July 17, 2006

Matt Dillon: You, Me & Dupree (Q & A)

I've been checking Matt Dillon's work every since I first caught him in the outsiders way back when...I stopped paying attention for a minute and then he got back all up in my face with those big ass dentures in There's Something About Mary. After getting nommed for an Academy Award last year for his turn as a bigoted beat cop, Dillon's returning this summer with lighter fare: a comedy called You, Me & Dupree in which he co-stars w/ owen Wilson and Kate Hudson. As written in earlier entries, I covered the junket for the film last month over at the Casa Del Mar, below's a bit of what dude had to say...

Q: Kate Hudson said that the two of you were two entirely different types of actors but you all gelled together on set.

Matt Dillon: Well, in fact, I think, yeah, we were different -- our backgrounds, our training or whatever -- but I found I was really pleasantly surprised. Owen worked very spontaneously, we did a fair amount of ad-libbing and I found that to be really refreshing because I like to work that way. In comedy I think that can be gold because you just never know what's going to work -- there's a kind of magic that can happen when your spontaneous and, also, it keeps you connected, you know. I liked the way Owen worked, it's very natural.

Q: You might think after Crash you'd get more heavy and dramatic roles thrown your way -- are you intentionally re-directing yourself toward the comedies?

MD: Generally, I like to do comedy but I'll be perfectly honest, I like to do dramas and more character driven stuff but I like to do comedy and I've found [the role in YMD to be] one of the more difficult roles to have to play -- more challenging -- because the character's kind of the straight guy, he's very reactive. And I think with a comedy and with that type of a character it's in a look or a reaction and God knows I had plenty of those in this film. I felt like for me it was very important that in the end, Carl stands up for himself...and also that he had a hand in all of this chaos. In fact, he was the one who makes the decision to invite Dupree into his home -- he kind of deserves, to a certain extent, whatever he gets. I think Carl is the character that most people will identify with. Because we've all had -- well, I've certainly had multiple "Duprees" in my life.

Q: You ever had a woman come between your friendship with another guy?

MD: Well, they say good fences make good neighbors -- this is clearly not something that Dupree lives by. He has real boundary problems and that is maybe the worst aspect of Dupree in a way. Worst in the fact that he burns down Carl's living room and sofa and that he runs around naked - it's one of the ways that he puts Carl in the doghouse. That is really sort of unforgiveable, to get a friend in trouble with his wife.

Q: You ever try to win a girl back?

MD: Yeah, I've come back hat in hand on many occasions but it's better not to get yourself in that position in the first place, if you can avoid it -- sometimes it's unavoidable and sometimes you just never know what the reaction's going to be and you have to be prepared for that; something might not go the way you want it to go. But fortunately, in this film, it all works out.

Q: Since the early My Bodyguard days when you were starting out, did you pick up any tips from older actors that you've held onto over the years?

MD: You know, I was pretty young at that point and I had studied a fair amount as an actor but I was very serious about it. I remember at that age there were so many actors that I admired, great actors like Brando, Dean, Clift, those guys and then that next generation of guys like Pacino, Deniro, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman and Robert Duvall. I was conscious of those great actors, those older actors, and I admired them but I really hadn't, at that point, worked with any of them. But I remember I had an acting teacher and one of the things that was encouraged -- which is what I liked about Owen's work -- was to keep it fresh and spontaneous, that's the magic of film, often...I've noticed at times throughout my career that the moment in scenes that I've done where I was like 'that was just awful', turned out to be the best scenes, some of my best work -- it's interesting because something authentic is happening. When I forgot my line or I didn't know what I was doing at that moment or I lost focus, what in fact is happening is something very organic and real it's happening in that moment. I think that's where I've learned to accept that those are the real magic moments that happen when you're being spontaneous.

Q: Have you ever been a "Dupree" to your brother Kevin or has he ever been one to you?

MD: Yeah, I think all of my brothers, at one point you know, and friends - I've had a number of "Duprees" in my life. For instance, you end up putting up with things because you like these guys and, in spite their shortcomings, they're your's hard to know because a "Dupree's" unaware of the fact that he's this crazy-maker, so I'm sure I've been that to somebody but I was probably unaware of it. [laughs] And I'd say, if I was a house guest, maybe, I have a tendency to play my music loud and that might be something that bothers people -- and my driving. I've been accused of not being the safest driver.

Q: At what stage is your movie Factotem in?

MD: Factotem, based on the Charles Bukowski book, is coming out in the first or second week of August. It's a comedy of a different variety, a very character-based film. I had a great time doing it...the film making was very interesting because I'd just let the scene play out in front of the camera without doing a lot of editing without doing a lot of [multiple camera angle] coverage and at first I had my concerns about it but then I discovered that that's what's great about it. You get a performance that unadulterated, that sort of puts it back into the actor's hands. It was a different kind of comedy and then when I get to run around bare-assed with the crabs -- it was fun, there was a lot of things that I liked about it. I felt like it was a film that I hadn't seen before.

Q: And the directing?

MD: Oh yeah, I think it goes back to when I did Factotem I was working on a screenplay and I put it down because I had to get to work on Factotem...I did Dupree and then after that we had the whole awards season which took up a lot of time and now I'm ready. It's funny doing comedy. A comedy can be very physically do a lot of takes, we did a lot of takes in [Dupree] and in some of the scenes I'm really high-pitched, exploding and yelling and my voice went. But anyway, I'm working on that screen play and there's a few things that I'm developing. I have to say that I'm really happy when I'm directing -- I really like that process of film making. And I think that what I learned,when I look back on my experience, is that I really just focused on what I love doing and it makes me very happy, looking back on that.

Q: Owen's worked with his brothers a lot, are you going to work with Kevin in anything any time soon?

MD: I don't know, I think the hard thing about that show is that he's got a brother already, so I don't know if that would work out. But what we've talked about maybe [working in] one that I direct, we've talked about it for years but we never really found a script that was [good]. In fact, I had a part for him in City of Ghosts in the beginning of the film and it got cut out but yeah, we've talked about that over the years and, ultimately, we'll find something and it'll be a lot of fun.

Q: You cut your brother out of your own movie?

MD: No, I think I ended up cutting out 15 pages of the screenplay before I started shooting and then I added about 15 minutes at the beginning of the movie -- I ended up cutting out like a half an hour out of it -- and, I'd spoke to a film maker once and he said 'every movie is work time -- always cut out the first 15 minutes, you just have to'. I think that's very interesting and it just goes to show -- I heard a writer one time say, a screenwriter: 'always start [to shoot] the scene as late as you possibly can. I think rules are made to be broken but that's actually a good rule...I prefer short scenes in film, you know scenes that play out short, crisp and to the point. If you streamline it, get down to what the core of the scene is; what that important moment is. I always find that introductions are clusters in movies when characters tell us something about who they are -- let's just cut to the chase, we've already met each other, okay, now let's get into what the meeting's about; what the relationship's about.

Q: They were talking about this in the movie a little, what's Matt Dillon's perfect girl?

MD: I like a girl with a sense of humor. Someone who's easy going, I think the best relationship to get into with a woman is when the woman knows where your buttons are. I don't want to be in a relationship with someone who pushes all your buttons but you want them to know where they are - you want them to be clued in to where they are, you don't want to be with someone who's clueless to who you are. That's pretty ideal, right? If you're talking about specific actresses, I always liked Carol Lombard...she was great to me,man -- pretty funny, I had kind of a crush on her.

Q: You've been acting since you were a kid, you're 42 now and last year you got your first Academy nomination - what did that feel like? Did it change anything? Does it make a difference to get a nomination?

MD: Yeah, I get more bad scripts. [laughs] that doesn't sound right. I wanted to say that that was a lot of fun -- it really was a great experience Obviously it doesn't happen every time -- there were a lot of terrific films made last year that didn't get recognized, performances, so it was really an honor to get recognized like that...there are a lot of people that are upset that Don Juan or Brokeback didn't win [Best Picture] and I was like 'what do they bother getting upset about?' In fact, all the movies that got nominated won, you know? At the end of the day, it's a great honor; I don't say that that [particular] film is my favorite because it won the Oscar in 1956. I judge films on the way that they're made and I'm really proud to be a part of [Crash]. To me, I just show up like I do and some of the parts, the weightiness really lent itself to the kind of work that I can do.

Q: You feel any pressure from it, though? Getting more scripts to read through?

MD: No, actually it's a good thing -- for me, I don't feel like I've ever been in a better time, careerwise...It's fun to do this comedy with these people, it's a bigger studio comedy and it's a nice contrast to what I did with Crash. But also because I have this film Factotem coming out which I'm enourmously pleased with and it's just been a great period of time for me, you know, I'm excited about the future -- I really feel that there couldn't be a better situation than to be where I'm at right now. I don't know what's next...I've been reading scripts and, to be honest, one of the things that I have to do is get back to what I was doing before Factotem which is to finish that script/ screenplay, to follow through.

You, Me and Dupree opened July 14th.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Edward Burns: The Groomsmen (Q & A)

Here's the transcript of the roundtable with Edward Burns. Dude's got a new flick called The Groomsmen coming out co-starring Donal Logue, John Leguizamo, Jay Mohr and Brittany Murphy...

Q: The bio says that the idea of this movie's a little bit about your father and a little bit of you -- where, exactly, did you get the premise for the piece?

Edward Burns: The only thing that's my dad, Dez the bartender, is loosely based on my dad's approach to parenting. But I, originally, wanted to play Dez [Matthew Lillard in the film] and I Dez as a much tougher guy than Matthew went with him, so, I'm thankful that Matthew played him because he's a much better character than the way that I think that I would've played him. But the idea really came from a couple of years ago -- after Sidewalks of New York and Ash Wednesday tanked at the box office -- I was like 'I've got to write a commercial movie.' So I sat down, I'd just seen Meet the Parents, and I wrote The Groomsmen as a version of a 'Meet the Parents.' You know, a broad comedy and when I got to the third act with the big set piece at the end when the altarsupposed to catch fire and the mud is supposed to be flying all over the place I just didn't know how to write that scene, quite honestly. And I just put the script down and just didn't know what to do with it -- it's not my sensibility, that kind of humor. And then years later, I got married [to Christy Turlington] I went through everything that you go through with your friends and your family -- just as far as planning all of this stuff. My wife said 'you out to revisit that script and just do the honest version of what happened.' So that's pretty much how the idea was born. It was that and then there was the fact that when I got married, none of my friends were even close to getting married and having kids. And we're all 35-plus and I just thought: 'interesting.' You know, Diner which is a film that I loved and there's a Fellini film I,Vitelloni which had similar kinds of stories dealing with men wrestling with men graduating to the next level of maturity or manhood or whatever you want to say. Those guys were in their mid-20s, my guys are in their mid-30s, hitting 40 and not doing it. So, I wanted to look at it socially: why is it that men, from this generation, don't want to grow up? And that's why, in a lot of the script, I tried to put in lots of those childhood things that they don't want to let go of -- Dez with the band, whether it's the softball or any number of things. There's the fact that they're still fighting over baseball cards is indicative of a lack of maturity.

Q: You think that's a cultural thing that's going on widespread these days?

EB: Basically [with] almost everyone I talk to, no one is making that movie. There's been a number of films, it seems, that are even, sort of, examining or even touch on that sort of thing -- you know guys, a little moreso than women but even women. Whether it's the fact that we've held on to our careers in a different way or maybe we've had fun for so long being unattached or without having to be parents that you just don't want to give up the lifestyle that you've grown accustomed to, you know? I know, once I had kids, I had to mourn my old self because so many of the things that I used to do I just don't do -- I can't do. You're not going to get a green light to go play softball for five hours on a Saturday afternoon, so you've got to quit the softball team. That's sad -- you mourn that. Those were the kinds of things that were going on inside my head when I sat down and started typing.

Q: Were you at all worried on what Christy's reaction would be when she saw the final draft, since you were basing this experience on your perspective?

EB: No, because she'd read the first draft that I wrote before we got married, so, she knew enough of the core of it. And she's always my toughest critic with my screenplays -- she'd beat the hell out of me [while] going through the writing process whenever she felt it was dishonest.

Q: Was that difficult to work with?

EB: We probably did fight a little bit but I was thankful for it after some time had passed. To me, and again this is more of a guy-centric movie, Brittany's character was greatly improved by her input. So, it's important for me to have a woman -- it's usually Christy or Margaret Bridger, my producer; the two women that usually take me to task with my women characters and keep working with me until I get it right.

Q: Did Brittany find it hard being the only girl in the story?

EB: You know, it's a three million dollar movie that we shot in 25 days, so Brittany was there for 5 days, you know, and she's not in any of the scenes with the guys so, really, it was just me and her for 5 days doing those scenes -- she did it as an enormous favor by just being in the film. I'm just shocked that after 11 years, how hard it still is to get these movies made; to have this great cast together, this script and we couldn't get three million dollars. I had to call Brittany up and say 'look, I need a fucking favor -- could you please come into this movie? If you're wearing a wedding dress, they know that they put that on the DVD and they'll make their money back the first weekend that it comes out on DVD -- so, in order to get this movie made, we need you.' She said 'hell yeah!'

Q: Even George Clooney said he had to run the gauntlet to get films like Syrianna and Good Night and Good Luck done. Why do you think that is -- the difficulty to get the production money?

EB: I don't really know, the independent or the specialized film business has changed so dramatically from when I first came in in the mid-90s; I don't think you would see Clerks or Slacker getting picked up for distribution today. I think there's probably still an audience for those films but I don't think that there's enough money for them to make -- it used to be the business model [in which] they'd buy a $50,000 movi e for $200,000, they got a million out of the box office or two million and everybody was really happy. That business model just doesn't interest them anymore...They'll do the horror movie for six and make forty -- they're businessmen so you can't blame them. They're not guys who grew up loving movies.

Q: Is it tougher to shoot films in the city now since 9/11? I noticed in this one that there's not many brick-and-sidewalk exterior shots.

EB: I bookended this movie -- two other movies that I directed, one was a little digital experimental movie called Licking Kitty which we shot all, actually, in lower Manhattan and then the next one, Purple Violets, we shot all in Tribeca. So, in the city, right now, it is so receptive to film making; there's these great tax breaks, the unions have cut all of these great deals, there actually never been a more friendly time. The reason I did this one completely out of Manhattan was earlier reaction to Todd Solenz' view of the suburban experience, even in films like American Beauty that sort of paints it as an ugly place to grow up in -- my suburban experience was fantastic and I grew up in a working class community. My thinking was, I wanted to write a love letter to how great it is to be able to walk out of a bar and stumble home down the middle of the street or hanging out on the stoop and bullshit with your friends. Those were the kinds of images that I had in my head when I thought [of] what was it that was great about living in the 'burbs. You know, the softball games which is gone from my life now.

Q: You like softball, I take it?

EB: Hell yeah. [laughs]

Q: Your original plan was to play Dez the bartender -- did you write that for some person in particular to portray?

EB: I tried to get two guys, one of which I wrote the part thinking that he'd be my guy and he wasn't available and the other guy passed, quite honestly. So then I had to make a choice and that takes a long time -- it took like two months to get an answer from 'the bigger names.' So, we're getting close to [the shooting of] this thing and I wanted to make the movie, so I had to make a decision -- 'alright, if I put myself into Paulie, I can free up this part.' I knew Matt Lillard had read the script and really dug that part so we were like 'let's put this thing together,' so that's how that came about.

Q: What was the set like, did you bring your family out?

EB: We shot in City Island, where we shot the bulk of the film, is up in the Bronx -- an eleven minute drive from Manhattan. Dez and Jay's houses, where they live right across from one another in the film, that's in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn which is a subway ride out. And there were days when everybody had their kids on set...that was the funny thing, how different this experience was. You got a movie about five guys -- their last hurrah, you got five actors -- all staying in Manhattan. Ten years ago, there would've been a lot of late nights and parties, now we all have young kids and it was just like: 'got to get home to relieve the nannies and baby sitters, so, the experience was very different...there wasn't a single page six mention.

Q: When you were picking the groomsmen for your wedding did you have any similar instances or conflicts?

EB: One of my guys had a weird reaction. He recovered but it was sort of like when [Jay Mohr's character] says 'I'm not coming, I can't get a date.' I was like 'you're my best friend, you're coming' and, actually, my oldest friend in the world chose not to be a groomsmen and didn't come -- that's also kind of like Jay's character, he's the guy who still lives at home with his dad. It was just a matter of, I think he was hoping that he'd be in a different place in his life; you're seeing all of these people you haven't seen in a while, there's a little bit of show-and-tell anytime you have these things -- those are the kinds of things I was looking at.

Q: So these character were lifted directly out of your real life, then?

EB: My dad was a New York City cop, Dennis Farina -- who I work with all the time, retired cop -- great actor, John O'donohue -- who plays Jay's dad -- and Arthur Nascarel, the guy in the strip club are retired New York City detectives. An interesting thing with those guys is they're surprisingly good actors and it must come from having to put on that face for over 25 years. John and Jay, they knew each other from something they had done before -- they were so good, they had one scene in the script but once we saw them together, we just kept writing and writing and writing scenes. Like the heavybag scene in the movie -- we did another scene earlier and we saw the heavy bag in the garage and John goes up to the heavy bag, he had one professional fight back in the day, so he just started whacking on the heavy bag, Jay started yelling at him -- I was like:'roll the fucking camera!' That's how that came to be. Part of the thing is, the movie's about men's definition of masculinity and fatherhood's another thing I wanted to look at but not only that. I mean these guys related to their dads; what it meant to be a dad. My character, with his [fatherhood] approaching going with the inability to do it, Johnny Legs [Leguizamo] having to make the choice to reconcile with his dad -- that's the other thematic thing we were hoping to play with there.

Q: What kind of dad are you? Are you strict?

EB: I beat the shit out those kids. [laughs] No, I think I'm super dad, quite honestly, I love it. My kids are the greatest, my daughter is the best -- it's the best thing that you could ever do or that I've done for myself. And, in a weird way, it's helped everything else. You know, I was acting in terrible movies -- you know there's money to be made from acting in terrible movies. And once we got pregnant I was like, 'what am I going to do with this career? Do I want to go to Prague for four months again? Go to Vancouver? Maybe I should get back to focusing primarily on being a writer/ director who makes movies in New York -- it guarantees that I stay home, I can dictate my own schedule, we don't have to cancel the family vacation because I've got to go off and do whatever.' And that's why I did these three movies in a row in New York and probably will continue to do so. It's important to me to be in my kids' life. I don't want to be one of those dads who's on location eight months out of the year.

Q: What do you think the reception will be to this film outside the triborough area of New York?

EB: It feels like all of the feedback we've gotten is that it's a universal experience. You know, the fact that they're East Coast guys -- if you've got friends, then you can relate to the different relationships between any old group of friends. We did a couple of festivals in the 'fly-over states' and everybody had a good time.

Q: You and Christy had a second child back in February, how is fatherhood this time around?

EB: You just feel like an old pro -- the nerves are gone, you just know what to do. It's all fun, although, I learned how to survive on three hours of sleep a night. You have no fear anymore.

Q: So what's the comparison to writing and directing?

EB: What's more fun? I'm happy to have both and if I was stuck doing just one of them I'd be a less full person.

Q: You think you'd ever get into more action-driven fare as a writer/ director?

EB: I wrote a couple of bad versions of Reservoir Dogs in film school thinking that that's what I want to do. I'm a huge Tarantino fan but it isn't my sensibility as a writer. I fell in love with films because of Woody Allen. And any time I'd question what I was doing -- I mean, to this day. Like, four people talking on a street in New York City...the best cinematic memories I have are of watching Hannah [and Her Sisters] or Manhattan or Annie Hall. Like I prefer them to any other film.

Q: What's your favorite Woody Allen flick and do you ever feel like you're picking up the baton from Allen as far as the shooting primarily in NYC goes?

EB: Crimes and Misdemeanors is probably my top choice -- the marrying of that heavy drama with very light comedy. That's something that I tried to do in The Groomsmen -- I just try to do my version of a guy who's writing and directing and acting telling his stories in New York. Another great example to look at is: you don't need to do what they tell you. You don't need to go and make an action film or genre film. You can stay in your millieu and keep doing one movie every year and a half and you can have a career.

Q: But do you ever see yourself doing a Spike Lee jump like he just did with Inside Man?
EB: Yeah, it's interesting when I saw that Spike did that. I don't know -- I'm sure he's really happy because it did really well, the movie's great. I don't know. I thought about it, actually. The first ten years of my career I never thought about it -- in the eleventh year, I have thought about it. But I have no plans as of yet.

The Groomsmen opens in Los Angeles and New York on July 14th.

Donal Logue: Not Just Jimmy the Cabdriver (Q & A)

Edward/ Eddie Burns has another flick coming out called The Groomsman in a week or so. I got into the rounds with most of the principals in the cast (Brittany Murphy couldn't make it); here's a transcript from the session at Le Meridien over on La Cienega earlier this week...

Q: So how was it making this film?
Donal Logue: It was a lot of fun -- I'll tell you, I'll say it was like [shooting] one hour or one camera television which is basically about shooting a lot of pages per day and always being busy acting as opposed to [for instance] a friend of mine did the movie Hollow Man and you'll be on it for twelve months. [The director] would shoot some tiny technical thing for three days and it just drives your brain insane; you don't get to just do scenes and actually, physically, get out there and act. In the Groomsmen a lot of the scenes are single shot scenes, or wider [angles]; theres a big scene with me and John Leguizamo when I come out of a strip joint and it's all played in one [shot]. So, it feels like doing bits of a play as opposed to like what movie making is sometimes where you're doing small, finite little bits and pieces that you don't get a sense of how you're running through these scenes, you know? Like an athlete, you don't get a chance to stretch it out at all, so that's what I think was really enjoyable on that side of it and then there's the group of people you work with -- we were all pretty tight. Can you imagine if you're on a set with Leguizamo and Matt Lilliard it would be kind of mellow because Jay's [Mohr] moreso out of his mind. [laughs] It's like a big group of pretty goof-bally people -- it was fun to be around.

Q: So what did you guys do between takes?

DL: Listen to Jay -- a lot. I worked [Jay Mohr] on Jerry Maguire...Matt, I didn't know well at all, Eddie [Burns] I knew well and Leguizamo's a great guy -- we just had a really good time. The crew was very cool -- I'd worked on Purple Violets, that's another movie that Eddie had directed, with the same group of [crew] people.

Q: Since you know Eddie so well, did you get to play around with the script at all?
DL: Oh yeah, he's really open about that, I mean it generally gets back to what it is -- he's incredibly easygoing in that manner. Not to say that if it wasn't taken in a direction that he wasn't comfortable with [that] he wouldn't step in, it's just that he creates an environment -- and I think this is the greatest thing about Ed as a director -- he creates an environment in which you feel very comfortable to try just, whatever. And the danger is if you're on a set with some kind of megalomaniacal director who's very angry and controlling about these tiny moments and this-and-that there's a point in which people [close up]; if they're afraid of screwing up and getting jumped on about it, they just kind of shut down and try to do the middle road -- you're afraid to try and be funny, even if it's not funny you're just like 'I don't want to get called out about something.' So, this a place where it's: 'go for it, if it doesn't work, I'll tell you. It's fine. If you feel comfortable and you think you can own it, go for it.' I really think that a lot of good writers who are confident -- I would say that Woody Allen does stuff like this. Or, interestingly enough, say Larry David, you know, clearly, Larry David has a fantastic mind and grasp of cmedic dialogue but on Curb your Enthusiasm he just casts a bunch of people that he knows can riff really well. He's not in that Neil Simon school of like 'whoah, there's a comma there!' You know he doesn't have to be like that, not to say that those guy like [David] Mamet's that way but he's really, specifically -- I respect that -- like if you're doing a David Mamet [project] you have to adhere to that because he is the master of the rhythm of his language. On the other side of things, like the Woody Allen/ Eddie Burns/ Larry David [approach] I like working that way, especially. So, you could mess around and try different sorts of things but basically it came back around to what was in the script.

Q: Would you do a Mamet?

DL: Yeah, sure...I love David Mamet, in fact, his younger brother younger brother Tony was really one of my best friends -- I remember I met Tony in England. I remember before I met Tony there was a pompous theater reviewer -- there was some class we were taking -- and he was talking about American theater versus British theater. Basically, intellectual theater versus visceral, guerilla theater of the Americans. You know, how could you say that Shephard or Mamet isn't intellectual in its own way? And then we were all introducing ourselves in this class and this guy said 'I am Tony Mamet' and I felt like...we became really good friends and I met David through Tony. Especially when you're a young theater actor, college era, the people who the people who are your heroes are completely different. It's like Spielberg doesn't exist in that world -- it's like Shephard and Mamet and Pinter and those are the guys who are like godheads but, yeah, that would be great to work with David Mamet.

Q: You looked disheveled and big in the Groomsmen -- did you do that for the role?

DL: Yeah, I slimmed down. I get into shape, I get out of shape...It was good for the character. I just did this movie called Almost Heaven where the guy had to really let himself go and it was kind of weird. When I let myself go I just really look fat, I really look heavy. You know, I let myself go in a Phillip Seymour Hoffman kind of way but when I think people want you to look like you've let yourself go in Hollywood, I think they want you to look like you're in incredibly good shape but you just haven't shaved for two days, you know? [laughs] So, it's a weird thing -- you want to stay more on what's real. It's not a really flattering place to be but I think [actually putting on weight] feels more real to who these [characters] are. Like you go back to your hometown and you see the guys -- I just turned 40 -- and you see the guys who were absolutely the superstar athletes and they look like 'are they 40 or are they 60 now?' You go to your friend's house and you see his dad on the couch after work and there's a bowl of ice cream on his massive tummy. And you're looking through his old high school yearbook and you see he was the captain of the football team and you're like 'whoah!' That's kind of like the vibe...

Q: So did you decide to drop the weight after those gigs?

DL: You know what, that was so long ago -- when did we film that? That was like a year ago because I did some other jobs. I went up, I went down [in size]; I just dropping weight a couple of months ago because I was going to run this marathon for charity. The difference between how I look now and how I look in this pilot of this new TV show that I'm doing is so friggin' radical...

Q: Did you run the marathon?

DL: No, it's coming in November -- I don't know if I can do it or not, I kind of hurt my knee but...I'm going to have to think of why between episodes 1 and 2 -- that this guy got Ben-Gay Fever or something...

Q: Are you doing something with the new Blade series at all?

DL: No, I'm not doing anything with Blade, I'm doing a new TV series The Nights of Prosperity for ABC where I play a janitor who is so sick of his life that he decides to rob a celebrity -- who's Mick Jagger. I'm watching E! Television and I see Mick Jagger talking about his 50 million dollar pad and I get together a group of fellow goof balls and it's with Worldwide Pants [David Letterman's production company] and the guys who did Ed created it (Rob Burnett and John Beckerman), so...

Q: Is Mick in the show?

DL: Yeah, Mick's in it --

Q: Have you met him yet?

DL: No, his part of it is only me watching him on the television. There didn't need to be any interaction, they were on tour in the far East -- it was when Keith fell -- actually, in, we shot Mick's part in New Zealand.

Q: Is it a take on MTV's Jimmie the Cabdriver guy?

DL: It's not dissimilar in a weird way. Like, I met Letterman and Rob Burnett and that group through the cabdriver because they were going to produce the movie [based on that character] way back when, back in the mid-90s, so we've always been friends. I did the pilot for Ed but I did the pilot for Grounded for Life at the same time and ended up doing Grounded for Life...we've alway's wanted to work together, so, you know...I like those characters, though. I like those guys who are really, heart breakingly -- they're sweet but they're really heart breaking guys and we wanted to make a comedy about: what if the guys that everybody just blows off -- and are jerks too -- who are just mopping the floors or driving you around in a cab and shining shoes and doing that stuff, what if they were like 'screw it, we want ours'...if they had a secret little group together that was plotting to get you? That's what it's about.

Q: Did the fact that you turned 40 a year ago draw you to the role in the Groomsmen at all?

DL: I did a lot of films last year, almost ten and The Groomsmen and the Almost Heaven movie, where a guy does turn 40 and I just totally lost it. Clearly, it really spoke to me about this place in my life and this stage of my life, like I'm different from Jimbo [Groomsmen] in the sense that I have children and that's clearly what he's struggling with and his inability to have children. But I also have a lot of friends who have gone and are going through through that kind of stuff. It feels weird, there are different times in your life, like someone told me a long time ago when I was in England -- in drama school and stuff -- that 'when you're in your 40s and 50s, you'll fall into your place as an actor' because whatever your mind and your spirit is, your station and your body and everything will catch up and you'll be who you'll be and it's kind of true. There are actors who will come into their own later and it feels nice not just being [told] 'God dude, you're way too old to play the college guy' -- like you're caught in between all these weird things; you can finally just be. You start to enter the stage of who you are which is almost like a middle-aged man and still kind of young in some ways and you get to play the issues that are salient to your life. It always feels weird, I didn't see it but I always felt like: would Anthony Hopkins really be like some dynamic 70 year old CIA blackbelt -- I don't know? [laughs] You know, when he plays who he is, at his stage in life, it's like there's no one hitting harder but when you get taken out of you Archimedian point it feels like an akward place to be.

Q: So, when you turned 40 did you have any of the issues that Jimbo had or was it just on screen?

DL: Yeah, just on screen -- I mean, I have my own stuff which everybody deals with but no real crisis.

Q: So what do you think your millieu is as an actor, is it stage or TV or the big screen? Do you prefer the smaller films or do you want the big blockbusters?

DL: I don't know if -- it's funny, like I watched Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest last night with my kids which was a fun romp or whatever but it felt like, plotwise, it was a little heavy and didn't make a lot of sense. There wasn't a scene in there, as an actor, that I wished I could've been in compared to every scene that was in the Groomsmen; it's like the adventure is the star -- I mean you have one-liners here and there. But there's not really, like, 'scenes,' you know, acting scenes? It's weird and any actor in it, if they don't cop to it, they're lying. Wherever the best stuff is...then again, everybody would be a liar if they were like 'look, if you were getting offered big roles in studio pictures, you wouldn't do those as well.' I mean, I love guys like Paul Giamatti, I think they have such great balance in their careers and they'll do wack stuff and comedic stuff -- he's just impassioned and committed in everything he does which, I guess, is the best thing to do. And I'm not snobbish about -- like, I'm doing a half hour TV show which I think is going to be fantastic and I have a lot of fun doing. Ghost Rider was a lot of fun, doing this big, crazy movie with Nick Cage and things like the Groomsmen but definitely the Groomsmen. To be able to do a really good scene with someone like John Leguizamo is, I think, what you shoot for as an actor -- a situation you would hope to be in if you ever started acting. I think doing stuff like the Groomsmen is my favorite.

Q: It seems like you've been working a ton lately, were you ready for Grounded for Life to run it's course so that you could get off of that daily grind schedule?

DL: You know, I loved it but mostly I loved who I worked with. I loved Kevin Corgan and the writers and the whole cast and stuff -- as a character actor it drives you crazy because I had come from a world where I was playing so many different parts all the time into something very steady, as a father. It was really fantastic to have two little boys who would go to school across the street (from the set) and it's weird because I got my wish in one way. I left there and went and did Just Like Heaven and the Ghost Rider and then nine other movies. But then it's been hard traveling and bouncing around with the kids, so, it's a real trade-off. And hopefully, even though I'll be in New York, there'll be more stability with this new Nights of Prosperity gig that I'm doing for ABC.

Q: Which of your past roles or which film are you most recognized for in the general public?

DL: That so hard, I guess Grounded for Life among a certain group of people; ER among a certain group of people -- like more middle-aged women will be really into ER, more kids would be into Grounded for Life. Younger people would be into Blade -- it just varies a lot, it's interesting, though. That MTV cab driver sometimes people remember.

Q: How did you come up with Jimmy the Cab driver, anyway?

DL: You know, we all went to school in Boston and I used to joke around like I was a Bostonian and we were in New York at a flea market and there were these glasses on a table and they were just so goofy that he was just found. And then we decided to drive around in a car and just record me waxing on about different stuff and that's how he came to be.

Q: So you had a group of guys that you hung out with just like Jimbo, then?

DL: Yeah, absolutely. Most of my friends have been in my tight group of friends since freshmen year in college. This guy, Clay Tarver is a screenwriter and a guy named Bill Wolf and Jessie Parish who's also a director -- two of whom I came up with the cab driver. We all went to Harvard together and then we all ridiculously decided that we would not go to law school but we would try to do, like, bands and different things -- I roadied for a lot of these guys but we've all been through it together; marriages, divorce or kids or trying to have kids. It's nice having a group of people that you march through stuff with -- sometimes you float away and sometimes you get closer through things...And as you go through those rites of passage that everybody has to contend with in life: difficulties in their career or relationships or parents getting older. This weird changing of the guard where you take care of those who used to take care of you and now you have people to take care of.

Q: In Tao of Steve, you were in the forefront of everything, a principal character but in a lot of your other movies you've been more or less in the background, a side player. Do you prefer being a character actor or would you rather shoot for more leading roles?

DL: It depends on the gig. I mean, I liked the Groomsmen a lot because it feels like a real ensemble. Everybody has their weight to their role. I did a couple of leads last year's fun to have the ball all the time and time to take time in a movie where you don't have to just be the buddy or the this or the that. But I think a balance of the two would be the best because there are guy who their thing is that they're always leading guys and they're always going to be leading guys but then they play themselves. It's like, whoever they are [in a role] they're just themselves as that person -- that wouldn't be as interesting in a way. I think I've been pretty lucky in that regard and weirdly enough, most of the guys I did The Groomsmen with, Lilliard, John Leguizamo and Jay Mohr, everybody takes turns at having the part of the lead or being a character actor.

The Groomsmen opens in Los Angeles and New York on July 14th.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Kate Hudson: You Me and Dupree (Q & A)

Here's a transcript from a roundtable with Kate Hudson for the You Me and Dupree press junket over at the Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica a couple of weeks ago...this wasn't a 1:1 or a roundtable, it was more of a press conference, but at least the vittles were good...I'll post Owen Wilson and Matt Dillon's shite later (they got some good copy)....

Q: Kate you had one of those risque moments during the fantasy scene on the boat -- when you look at yourself in sequences like that, when you're scantily clad, what do you think?

Kate Hudson: Ow!(she cat calls) Let me tell you a funny story about that. the guys (directors Anthony & Joe Russo) had me try on four different outfits, four different types of bathing suits, so it was the Russo brothers and, like, Owen and they were all like 'maybe you should put on the other one again'...'no, try on the other one'...we were all laughing so hard. That whole experience was so much fun. Because we were all just [kidding around all the time] it was ridiculous, so it was pretty fun. Oh wait! I have a great story I haven't told this whole time! We were shooting in San Pedro by an Army Reserve [base], on a marina, when all of a sudden this chopper [swoops in] and there's all of this crazy noise and I've got the diamond collar on and the heels and everything. And all of a sudden we hear this huge crash and I'm like 'holy shit!' -- I walk outside, in that skimpy outfit. It turns out that my car, out of all the cars and all of the trailers that were there -- the chopper came so low that this huge piece of plywood fell on my car from a rooftop. And I walk out and the cops are there, the Marines are there and I'm in my outfit and they're like 'Hi Ms. Hudson, uhh...' and I'm like 'what happened?' then all of a sudden I realize [the outfit] and I'm like 'oh my God - could somebody get me a robe?' It was really funny and it was one of those stories on a movie [set] where everyone's like 'oh God, it had to happen on that day,' you know?

Q: You think the chopper came down to get a closer look at you?

KH: I don't know what they were doing -- it definitely caused an issue. But [whispers timidly] and the government still hasn't paid me back.

Q: You ever have any body issues about performing in scenes like that?

KH: -- I've never had body issues, I never had long as it's not totally exploitative. As long as I feel like it could either be funny or fun or is appropriate [for the character] I really don't have a problem with it.

Q: Did you ever ask for a stand-in, like maybe in the bathtub scene or something?

KH:No, no -- that was good enough for me. Plus licking at Owen's face all day was really salty and weird... [laughs]

Q: You were substantially clothed more than Owen was in this picture.

KH: Oh yeah, there's a lot of nakedness in this movie, isn't there?

Q: -- not enough!

KH: [laughs] I remember, when I read the script for the first time, I was like 'God, I'm half naked for the whole movie.' So, I wasn't too surprised -- I didn't, like, come on the set and Joe and Anthony were like 'you're going to be in your underwear for the next scene -- it was actually written in the scene. Actually, I think Owen had it a lot worse than I did.

Q: You've been married to Chris Robinson for a few years, what were some of the things that you had to get over as a newlywed? Any Oscar Madison an Felix Unger "Odd Couple" moments like with you and Matt Dillon in this YMD?

KH: No, I knew what I was getting into with Chris - I knew the first week...One of the first things I said to him was 'tell me everything that you think I'm not going to like about you' -- and he went on for about an hour and a half. And I still married him! [laughs] He was always totally up front with all of that. As far as the vagabond musician friends that are in and out of our house all the time, there are two in particular. They're twins, believe it or not, whose genitalia I've seen while they're watching TV -- it's very harmless. It's actually more just that they're comfortable with themselves but I can deal with it.

Q: Does Robinson have any annoying little habits that have caused the discussion to escalate like in the film?

KH: No, but there is one that he has of me, that's actually pretty funny, which is that I can sip on a coffee all day long. I could have a coffee that's cold and I'll take a sip of it and it just drives him nuts. And so does my dad Kurt [Russell], it drives him nuts too because my mom [Goldie Hawn] does the same thing. They're both like I don't know how you and Goldie can sip on cold coffee all day, just one coffee.

Q: Did Kurt ever give Chris a hard time at first?

KH: No, 'Paw' was actually pretty good, I think. Somebody asked me a similar question earlier, they asked if people found him intimidating -- I'd never thought about the fact that my dad was actually Snake Pliskin [from Escape from New York films] -- I'm like 'oh my God, it must've been really difficult for certain guys to come in and go 'oh jeez, that's her dad...and he's going to kick my ass. [laughs] I remember he was doing a press junket right after I'd married Chris and he said that he gotten asked a lot about [whether] he was nervous or worried that I got married to the guy. And Paw says "I'm never worried about Kate, I'm more worried about the guy that marries Kate." Which I love because that shows that he's got confidence in his daughter. So, he's always been pretty good -- my parents let us make our mistakes.

Q: You and Chris ever have a male or female "Dupree" in your lives that you just can't seem to get rid of?

KH: I've had some female Duprees but I've been lucky, for now...with my girlfriends, I've had two Duprees. One of them just started squatting in my house for over a year. You know, I liked it because I could just go into the guest room and [hang out] -- Chris was the one who was like 'when is she getting out of our house?' And then I have another Dupree who would light the house on fire with a stick of butter -- [speaking slowly into microphone] and if you're out there, you know who you are. [laughs]

Q: Are you still friends?

KH: -- oh, yeah! I love Duprees! I'm not like Molly at all, I'm totally available for weird, interesting and bizarre's hysterical, these guys were living with us in Paris and I would go to work at 5:30 in the morning and I'd be literally stepping over them -- they'd be passed out. I guess that's a part of what I enjoy about life, there's [living characters] that you can write stories about. I must say that, I might sound crazy but, for what we do as actors -- and anybody who works in the movie industry -- I always think that understanding human behavior, no matter what kind of human behavior, is the best lesson and the best acting class that you could possibly have; I've always been very open with people's 'stuff.'

Q: Any advice for young couples in dealing with the art of compromise?

KH: For me, I feel that love is everything. Marriage, relationships -- no matter if you're married or not -- are never, ever easy. And I think that there is a -- you know, my mom and my dad are a really good template for how to keep a relationship, through everything, good -- they just have a blast together. No matter what, through everything, they play and they play really hard and they have a great time. And that always keeps them passionate and enjoying each other as these two playful people -- they're off in Amsterdam right now and you go, 'you guys have been been together for twenty four years and they're calling me and stuff: [quoting her mother breathlessly] 'we just took a bike ride in Amsterdam today and it was so much fun, what are you guys doing?' And I'm like 'I'm at a press junket.' [laughs] I mean, they just know how to do it! I think, where people go wrong in relationships is when they start to get really comfortable -- it happens all the time -- and you know each other so well. I mean you don't have to say anything to each other to know what the other person's thinking. It's when you stop saying it that you have to start re-evaluating the relationship. God man, relationships are just so hard, it's crazy but you just have to make sure that you respect the love and have a good one. You know, I feel really lucky, I got a good one -- I got one that keeps me on my toes.

Q: This film is being sold as a light comedy, so how do you approach this film as an actress to get those more subtle serious points that you were just talking about across?

KH: Actually, it's funny because I saw the movie, I mean we shot so much and you never know how it's going to come out -- obviously, we leave the set and the product is in everybody else's hands -- and when I first saw the movie, not only was I laughing I was really impressed that the Russo brothers really made a point to maintain some kind of ground and a sensibility to how the comedy is and actually tried to have some point of view on when your best friend has a new best friend. When your marriage isn't necessarily what you thought it would be. I got kind of emotional while we were shooting it, the one thing for me is I had to be very conscious [of the mood of a scene] because I love to laugh and man, it was for me to get through some a lot of those scenes -- even when I had to cry. You know, I had that scene where I go 'sometimes love just isn't enough' and I'd really be focused and try to be emotional and the second I saw Owen's face I [crack up] -- I couldn't help it, he had that neck brace on...I was just like this is the hardest thing I've ever had to do. But the Russo borthers were really very adamant about keeping it grounded -- I think the movie wouldn't be as good if it wasn't. For me, I just had to play straight. Everything just had to be totally straight and that was very challenging for me because I'm used to having the [theatircal] cover of being able to be so energetic and not grounded -- just completely spontaneous -- whereas [in YMD] it was the opposite. I had to watch Owen do what is spontaneous and go for it and I had to stay rooted and, my God, it was such a challenge. And then working with Matt [Dillon] was -- it was the first time I'd played a married woman, it was the first time I had to be somewhat intimate and feel close to somebody like that. Matt made it very easy...he's a very different style of actor than Owen and it was like working with two completely different kind of people -- it was really amazing how it all just came together and we all enjoyed it.

Q: You've worked with two of the Wilson brothers now, could you compare and contrast between the two ?

KH: I wonder if they hate this -- you know what I mean? [laughs] First of all, I'd gotten to know all of the brothers now, Andrew included, and I would say that -- well, they're all hilarious and their humor is not wacky as much as it is based in intelligence-referenced humor. Owen's a beautiful writer -- a great writer , he's always thinking in terms of writing. Andy and Luke write as well, so I think that their similarities are at the core of them, obviously coming from the same parents, their sense of humor are similar but to me they're all different -- I should ask Owen what he thinks. But to me, I would say that Owen's the weirdest...I don't know, Luke is the baby and he is definitely the baby; I mean you could tell that he's the youngest brother and I think that he's sensitive. Aww, they're so cute [laughs] and Owen, I think, is more quiet. Owen is definitely more quiet than Luke -- which, I know, sounds weird but that would be my [assessment].

Q: How was it being the only female who's face was actually show?

KH: I'm so flattered. Okay, first of all, it was a "boy's club" movie. I was the girl [on set], I was like the little sister but I'm pretty comfortable [hanging out] with boys. You know I have all brothers and there was four boys and me and my mom; I've been surrounded by boys my whole life. I didn't really think of it [until] I saw the movie and I was like 'poor Molly, she's literally the only girl and there's all these dudes' -- it kind of felt a little bit like [shooting] Almost Famous. You know, in Almost Famous even though there were girls, the other band-aids, I was alway with just me and all of the boys every day -- but it was fun.

Q: Michael Douglas looked kind of scary, what was it like working with him?

KH: Michael is the first person that I've worked with that I've known since I was a baby, the first time that I've worked with a friend of my parents. I think it was one of those experiences, maybe for both of us, where it was one of those 'wow' things. It was very cool, very great -- how great is that? To me, opportunity to work with somebody like Mike is always joy. And it was just the fact that he was playing my dad...In terms of the moral of the story, I actually feel like it hit on a couple of things. I loved that Dupree is just such a free spirit and has this idea of I am who I am, I'm proud to be who I am and, eventually, [life] will work out for you -- I don't know if I agree with it. But I do like the concept of people bing okay with who it is that they are. And I do love the idea that in marriage, no matter what, through everything; even when it just feels so bad, for so long that you do work at it. The Russo brothers are both married and they have these amazing women in their lives and I think that [the film's message] is a wonderful ode to their wives because I think it shows that their women are their grounds -- you know, it's what keeps them going. And I think it also shows that their women are strong and they stick though it and that they're demanding of them to stick with it, I do love that idea of that. All in all, we're not talking about an Academy Award film, we're talking about a summer comedy that a lot of fun and, actually, there's a very great, sweet emotional undertone to it that made me feel really good when I walked out of it which is really, for me at least -- I'm such a cynic when it comes to watching myself on screen, I really have a hard time, I never have a good time watching me the first time. I've seen this movie once and it wasn't even done and I really had a great time. I walked out and said 'I want to see it fully done!'

You, Me and Dupree opens in theaters on July 14th