Blood Work interviews
Last Lunes the folks at Warner Brothers held the press interviews for the new Clint Eastwood thriller BLOOD WORK at the L Ermitage hotel in Beverly Hills. First things first, I now know the answer to the age-old question What would happen if you threw a party and nobody came? The answer: Get what you can, which in this case meant a few interesting quotes and, more importantly, more than your fair share of appetizers and drinks. Those treats helped ease the pain and fill the void that resulted from Clint and Angelica Huston (shes also in the film) being absent from the festivities.
Regardless, I still had fun as always, chatting it up with the cast members that were there Paul Rodriguez, Wanda DeJesus and Jeff Daniels. All three were great. Sure, it wouldve made my day to see Clint in person, but oh well. Maybe at the premiere or during my next vacation up to Carmel. Anyway, here are some snippets from my meetings with the three actors...
First in line was Paul Rodriguez, the stand-up comedian turned actor of TORTILLA SOUP, BORN IN EAST L.A., D.C. CAB, and RAT RACE fame. He plays Arrango in the flick, the bad cop to Clints good cop. And I dont mean hes the next coming of Harvey Keitel in BAD LIEUTENANT. Pauls more like the comedic edge of the film and its at Clints expense.
When he came in, I must say my first impression of the guy was that hes a down-to-earth antithesis of the classic Hollywood Headcase, and throughout the interview he never gave me any reason to think otherwise. He talked about the role of Hispanic culture in the film, how he got the gig, and drinking shots of tequila with Dirty Harry at Hogs Breath, a bar in Carmel, CA. He hinted that he beat out some big shot Hispanic actors(cough, cough, Del Toro) for the part, and said also that hes close to his 50th birthday. Man. He also gave us a little bit of insight into the frustrations of Hollywood, saying that he shot several weeks in Africa for ALI, yet not one single scene of his was in the final cut. Heres some more from Paul...
Are you this mean in real life
I mean, compared to your character in the movie?
That was the hardest thing to do .to be upset with someone who youre in awe of. And then I found out what he paid me, and could have paid me, and that made me upset. But, he was an easy guy to play. I know a lot of guys like that. Im not like that, but my friends are like that ..And here in L.A., theres a plethora of cops like that around .But I pretty much told Clint its hard to get mad at you, man. I mean, he took me out on his plane, and he took me golfing. And I dont think he does that with everyone he works with.
Ok, so, when youre sitting in a bar with Clint Eastwood, what are you guys drinking?
Were drinking beer and tequila. Him too. Don Julio .Its so funny. Clint has a language all his own. I call it Clinglish. Its kind of like a Ronald Reagan mixed with a Bea Arthur.
How do you like acting?
I like it. But I never really pursued this career. I see myself as a standup. My hero is George Carlin. The mans not really known for a lot of tv or films, but youd be hard-pressed to buy a ticket for one of his shows. So, I see myself as a standups standup. And if the movies come, they come. But Im still selling them out in Las Vegas and wherever I go. Theres no danger of me getting an Academy Award here. And thats not what Im out for A lot of my friends say How do you do it? Youre lucky, Paul. You know what, theyre right. If you ever have a choice of having talent or luck, always choose luck, because talent is so abundant and so common in this town. You got to understand that Los Angeles absorbs talent, not only from America but from all over the world. They come here and they have their hopes and their dreams, they want to be the next so and so, and I never wanted any of that. I just wanted to be the first Paul Rodriguez...I see so many stars and starlets who go to these clubs and sit around and feel frustrated with this dream, and theyll never make it. And its not because theyre not talented. Its because theyre not lucky. And Ive always been lucky. Ive had tons of luck. Im afraid to play the lottery, cuz I dont know what Id do with all that money.
Did you read the script first, or the book? And did you think itd be hard to translate it into a
I was on a plane once, when we had already been shooting for a couple weeks, and I saw a woman on a plane reading the book. And I said I was in the movie. And she asked what part I played and I said Arrango, and she said Oh, yeah. So youre the asshole. And I said yep. Before that, I had no idea it was a book .But I didnt get too much out of the book, or out of the movie. I dont read too deep into this stuff.
What was it like working with Clint?
You know what its like going from a hot sauna to a really cold, cold pool? You know, you see the extremes of each. Thats what happened to me on this film. I went from Michael Mann in Africa, who did 22 takes in the blink of an eye, to Clint Eastwood who does three takes, tops. He basically said filmmaking is a lot like baseball: if you cant get it in three strikes, maybe you shouldnt be in the big leagues.
Then came Jeff Daniels, a Michigan native, who plays Buddy Noone, Clints next-door neighbor in the movie. As I had heard from the other reporters ahead of time, he takes a little prodding. Hes a little casual and a little too relaxed. But once he got going, we were off. Of course I had plenty I wanted to discuss. I mean, were talking about a guy who was given a lead role in the masters PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO, and led other classics like DUMB AND DUMBER, TERMS OF ENDEARMENT, ARACHNOPHOBIA, and SOMETHING WILD. Hes the man, man. But it wasnt easy getting him to admit it. What he did admit was interesting He recently produced a couple films with his production company Purple Rose Films. He also recently finished shooting GODS AND GENERALS, a prequel to GETTYSBURG. Based on what he said, the production for that film was a nightmare. They shot a lot of the scenes in rural Virginia at the same time the 9/11 attacks took place. Needless to say, the production was halted, and the film and its importance was put in perspective. Heres more from JD
What drew you to this part?
Clint Eastwood. Hes still passionate about the filmmaking process. He loves making a movie. He loves picking the camera angles and choosing the lens. He loves getting there and figuring out how to do it. And it could not be that. I hope Im still passionate at that age. I just basically took the notepad and pencil and started taking notes.
Are you more into producing now?
I was for a couple films. But those films need to make some money. Theyre indie films, and were releasing them on video and dvd nationally soon.
What companys releasing the films?
A video distribution company called Monarch. Theyre out of Nashville. Good people, and they like the movies, so well see how it goes.
Whats your take on this film and your role?
My take is that I dont want to give anything away. But, as in the book, which is different from the movie, Im the comic relief. Im the sidekick But it was fun for me to play against whatever the plot may indicate.
How did you get the part from Clint?
Our agents talked. But Clint had gone to other guys, one guy in particular, and he said no, but thank you very much. And then Clint called. I was the number two choice. He asked Would Jeff do it?, and I said yes, in a minute.
Not a very good negotiating stance.
No. Definitely not. That cost me some money. In fact I paid him No, but seriously, it was done over a weekend. And then he called. I mean, I asked if I was going to speak with him ahead of time, and they said yes. They said hell call you Friday. So my whole house was alerted that Clint Eastwood was going to call the house. And the rest is history.
I have to know what your experience with Clint was like in comparison to Woody Allen.
Well Woody shoots, there are guys that shoot a lot more film than Woody. But Clint wants it to happen for the first time in front of the camera. And once you know that, and youre told that early, you say oh, I get it. So, you do all your homework, and you get your lines ahead of time, and you just fling it. When they roll, you react to Clint, and thats it. The first few movies I did, I went back to the hotel and thought about all the things I wished Id done. But it took me a while to realize that if youre just open to whats going on, and you react, youll be fine.
Last in the room was Wanda DeJesus, who plays Graciella Rivers, a woman whos lost her sister to murder, in the film. To be honest, it was the first time Id ever seen her in a movie, or at least remembered it, yet her resume is fairly solid .GHOSTS OF MARS, FLAWLESS, THE INSIDER. But this one I wont forget. Besides the scene where her and Clint get busy, if you know what I mean, shes one of the hotter middle-aged actresses out there. Sure, shes a little on the melodramatic side, both on the camera and in our little hotel suite, but she seemed cool for the most part. Heres more from Wanda .
Who was the best on-camera kiss you ever had?
I never kiss and tell.
Had you met Clint before this? If not, what was the first encounter?
I hadnt met him before. My first meeting with him was on the set, amazingly enough. Clint doesnt audition. He just picks a project, and has in mind a short list of people he wants to consider for the film. I was on one of those lists. He had seen the body of work that I had done and agreed that I would be a good choice. And when I got on the set, it was one of the most difficult days of the shooting, in the grocery store as were looking over where my sister was shot. So we really focused into the work on the first day. But as time went on, there was more of a banter and understanding between Clint and me.
Is it tough not having any input on your character from the director ahead of time?
Well, thats why Ive studied acting. But, theres a novel and screenplay. I read both, and my job is to fill in the blanks. I came in ready to fill in the blanks. Clint is not a director who likes to talk anything to death. Its more about showing him what youre going to do. And I love that freedom because if youre a trained actor, not just a movie actor, youre coming in with a lot of stuff, and youre going to try lots of stuff.
Is it a norm to go into a film without meeting a costar or the director?
Its happened. Ive met people Im going to work with for the first time on a set. But you come in with your work, and ideas, and go from there. Sure a lot of people feel more comfortable meeting ahead of time, but Ive been in more situations than not where Im meeting them on the set for the first time.
Whats coming up for you?
Im doing a PBS Masterpiece theater titled ALMOST A WOMAN, airing September 15th. Its based on another novel with the same name. Its an interesting one because PBS has never done this before. Its a piece that starts off in Spanish, and as the family assimilates more of the Spanglish comes in and the subtitles disappear.
So, there you have it. Again, I want to thank the friendly folks at Warner Brothers. Helpful as always.
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