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INT: American Dreamz cast


Usually things at an all-for-one one-for-all type press conference to promote a movie can get pretty hairy. Either the questions are dominated by one "star" or everyone talks so much that you don't know what to make of it. Luckily the conference for AMERICAN DREAMZ - that included Hugh Grant, Mandy Moore, Willem Dafoe, Sam Golzari, Chris Klein and writer/director Paul Weitz - was neither of the above. DREAMZ is a true ensemble film so having the majority of the cast and the director together allowed for some witty repartee and surprisingly insightful answers. Here the gang talks about many of the issues that a movie like AMERICAN DREAMZ poses. Witness:

Hugh, you seem like you're almost ready to retire from acting. Do you think about leaving the profession at this point in your career? HG: Yes I haven't done very much done much work in the last 80 months, it's true. I did slightly lose interest but then I got bored. I got bored with being bored so I am back. In fact I start another film tomorrow which I know you will like because I play an 80's pop star and you get to see me sing and dance. It's called MUSIC AND LYRICS at the moment that's a working title I don't know what will happen. Your character is obviously written like "American Idol"'s Simon Cowell. Have you ever met him and did you base any of your interpretation on him? HG: I have met Simon at a couple of parties. I don't know him at all and this part is not particularly based on him aside from the fact that I am a judge on a talent show that's massively popular and I am very cruel. There the resemblance stops. The part really is a creation of Paul Wietz and partly his warped vision of me. Mandy your character is a little darker than both you as a person and other characters you've played. How was that experience as an actress? MM: I think it's the fun and a challenge to get a meaty part like this and sort of play against type. Sally is definitely pretty far from who I am so I definitely enjoyed it.

Paul, any desire to screen this at the White House? Do you think the President would see himself in the Dennis Quaid character? PW: I'd love to screen it at the White House. I'd just make sure that I knew where the nearest exit was just in case (laughs). In terms of if George W. saw himself in Dennis Quaid's portrayal it's kind of a weird film because there's a send up of the administration in it and so imagine that some people from the right will be upset by it, but also some people from the left might actually be upset that this character has a certain amount of heart eventually and undergoes a certain bit of transformation. So I'm probably managing to offend both sides. Mandy, how do you feel about "American Idol" and that fact that singers can be launched from obscurity to sensations overnight while you paid your dues and earned your way as a singer? MM: I would never discredit anyone that is working their way up on a show like "American Idol." I'm a fan of the show and I do watch every week but I think they work so hard overcoming all of these obstacles just to get on the show in the first place. Every week they are judged in front of all of America and it must be overwhelming, all of the pressure so I give them complete credit for getting up on stage. I think I would crumble under that kind of pressure. No, I think that they deserve all of the success that they get. Paul, can a movie, a comedy especially, still spark a real political debate these days? PW: I don't know. I think that when your making a comedy about really serious issues you're kind of in the position of being an idiot savant. It's like you're using the vocabulary of broad comedy to talk about what's most important and I'm not particularly. I don't have a Michael Moore like desire to offend people or get people angry at me. If anything that idea just stresses me out. So really while the film is sending various things I was actually thinking of something more integral in terms of a theme for the film which is that in America everyone is supposed to have a dream which is kind of the most positive thing about America and we just kind of manifest that in the character that Sam [Golzari] who is this show tune loving, bumbling terrorist who's salvation is that he wants to be a star. But at the same time if everyone has a dream does that make it impossible to deal with reality and I'm not sure that that's really something that's going to offend anyone of any one particular persuasion, but that's actually really what I was thinking of in terms of what was underlying the film. Chris any difference working with Paul alone instead of both of the Weitz brothers as you did on AMERICAN PIE? CK: No. Not at all. Back in '99 or '00, something like that, when we were making AMERICAN PIE working with Paul and Chris, working with two directors, the brothers, was a very seamless experience. They have the exact same clear cut vision and when one of them would give a note the other one would come in and expound on that note and it was always the same. It was never something where they were competing and they made it very easy and it was actually very nice because it's just that much more support for me as a young actor back then at that time. It was great to have two voices in my ears going, "Yeah, do it this way." Two as opposed to one, and now I'm so happy to work with Paul on this movie because of that seamlessness and his mind and his very focused vision of what he wants it to be and to come and collaborate with him - he makes it very comfortable to be an actor on a movie set. HG: I agree with that. They were sinisterly seamless as a pair. My personal theory is that they were in fact Siamese twins joined at the head, they have been very cunningly separated (laughs). The only thing that is slightly different with Paul from Chris is that he gives 6 good notes and then one really appalling note that is unactable. I particularly enjoyed watching some of the actors that hadn't worked with him before getting the 7th note and looking really perplexed and miserable (laughs).

PW: I can think of some specific ones. I think that I told Mandy to try and act as if the idea of being a human being was new to her (laughs). That's an utterly un-actable note! Were any of you guys afraid you might end up offending anybody? PW: To my mind Chris was playing a guy who volunteered for the Army for his own personal reasons, which has nothing to do with anything political. He volunteers because he's in love with Mandy and that's his dream and in a way that's what sort of drives him to this sort of insane destination at the end of the film. He has only one vision and so that sort; of goes with the vision that if we have a dream does it make it impossible to deal with reality. So to my mind that's just how his thing got manifested because he got dumped and he thinks that if he does this maybe he'll get his girlfriend back. So it's a very specific character and also in that scene when he gets shot, the guy standing next to him is sort of looking at him like he's an idiot and naïve. So I just wanted to preface anything that's said with that. CK: Yes (laughs). SG: For me, if I'm worried about offending anyone - when I first heard about the script I was a little nervous. Like, "Oh, a middle eastern terrorist. That's been done." But when I saw the script and I saw the character, to me the person that he is and the character that he represents kind of trumped any kind of worries that I had about his political agendas. On the human level I fell in love with the character and when you see the movie I think that's what surpasses any kind of agenda that he might have. CK: I meant yes in that William Williams does decide to go on this adventure for his own personal beliefs. He wants to show chivalry. He wants to find himself. He want to be Sally Kendoo's hero again. And that's his reason for being. When the incident does happen on the cargo truck they do look at him like he has lobster's coming out of his ears and that's our movie. Do you think the creators of "American Idol" will appreciate this film? Do any of you guys watch it? PW: I think that the thing about "American Idol" is that it's very strange that it's getting more and more and more popular. I think that everyone expected that after a couple of years it would kind of peter out like most shows do. So it almost seems like it's tapping in to some obsessive need to not only feel like we're making stars by voting, but it focuses in on an aspect of reality television which I think is that most people think that they are one step away from being a star themselves. So you see these singers and they're pretty good, but they're not so great that you can't kind of fantasize that you could almost sing that way in the shower. Also, this started as "Pop Idol" in Britain, but it has become an American obsession. MM: I TiVo it. I'm not going to lie. I watch it. CK: I have them all on my TiVo as well.

Did any of you actually help to create your characters for this film with Paul? SG: Well, for me, the first meeting that I had with Paul was like us getting together and he gave me four or five points of where he thought the character was coming from. I mean, this is my first film. Paul has worked with everyone at this table, most of them anyway, before, and I said, 'Actually, I don't see that. I see it in a different light.' Paul was like, 'Great. I agree.' So from that first moment I knew that Paul was all about making the film the best it could be, and there was a day on the call sheet where it was my name, Willem Dafoe, Dennis Quaid and Hugh Grant. I have that on my wall right now somewhere in my house, and here I was this guy who is younger than all of those greats, and the way that he treated me with respect and listened to me, I know that I got spoiled on this film and it's not always like this. Paul was the one who gave me the opportunity to bring in my own ideas and some of the dance moves that I did were from my audition. So there was a lot of give and take. PW: Well, I think that the first thing is to have wonderful actors. I mean, for instance I hadn't worked with Willem before and I remember one of the first things that we did was to make a computer morph with his face on the top of Dick Cheney's and I think that he got a hoot out of that, but I also knew that he wasn't going to just do a straight on parody of someone, that he would bring a sort of depth to it. In terms of Hugh I was doing my own bad version of his performance when I was writing this, and honestly, I think that it's mostly about casting because you can try all you want to have sort of have ambiguity in a character, but if the actors aren't binging more to it than you are it's never going to happen. So the first thing is casting actually, and I think that one thing that's kind of shocking is that I don't think that this movie is particularly like "Team America: World Police" because that was pretty much slamming everything, but the last kind of satire that I can kind of think of had puppets in it. You have a huge advantages in giving the appearance of giving layered characterizations if there is really wonderful actors. The second thing is I think that possibly less so with this than with other films that I've done, but the thing that creates an impression of reality is when you put a character out there and the audience can judge that character, but then you change their judgment. That gives the optical illusion of the characters being real. I mean, that's what happens in real life. You meet someone and you hate them and then you talk to them and you actually realize that there is something great about them or vice versa. Are you a Preston Sturgis fan and has he been any kind of influence in your work? PW: I'm a big Preston Sturgis fan and I look back to that era of Hollywood films as being something to aspire to in that they were able to make mainstream films about America, and comedies which had social relevance and that seems to be something that Hollywood has largely given up on in favor of special FX. I think that now is actually a good time to be making films in Hollywood because a lot of films that they thought were going to make a ton of money are actually not doing as well as they thought which is similar to the situations that existed in the seventies when they said, 'Hey, we don't know what these people want to see. Lets give the hippies some money to make movies.' So there is a little bit more of an open door actually to try and make that kind of film now. The problem is that they're really hard to make and you need incredibly skilled actors to be in the films. He had an amazing cast of actors that he would put in his films over and over again. Sturgis. But yeah, he's a hero of mine. Hugh, would you ever participate in a reality show and what would that show be? HG: I have always had a secret desire to be on television actually. I like reality shows, I am a particular fan of one in England of "I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here." That's sort of how I feel right now (laughs). If it wasn't beneath my dignity I'd be doing lots of them in fact I tried to persuade Colin Firth to do a Celebrity Wrestling Match with me for "Comic Relief" a couple of years ago but he was afraid. Not physically but I think he was afraid of becoming aroused (laughs).

Paul, have we finally seen enough of the AMERICAN PIE movies? PW: Strangely my name is nowhere to be found on the direct to video BAND CAMP although I'm rooting for it's success with every fiber of my being. I'm looking forward to fifty years from now doing the reunion and doing a sex comedy set in a retirement home. I'll come back to do that one. Willem will be in that one (laughs). How tough of a sell was it to get this film made when you were first embarking upon it? PW: Well, I have to thank the people at this table because they were extremely generous and nice in joining me in doing it. This kind of thing doesn't get made unless you do it inexpensively. Not only does it not get made, but once you make it the only way to keep a straight face and say, "No, it's going to be as edgy as the script was." Is if everyone makes a bargain ahead of time. So I'm just really grateful to the cast for allowing me to make it. Honestly, I don't know if they were worried about other things or something, but I didn't catch any flack from the studio. They kind of knew what I was doing and they just let me do it. Can you talk about why you decided to spell "dreams" with the "z?" PW: Actually, what I was thinking of, and I tend to over intellectualize things after they're done because I have spare time on my hands, but in cartoons when someone is sleeping they'll have a zzz in the bubble and so the theme of this was whether are dreams make us narcotized to reality. So that's why I personally put the dreamz like that. Willem you made a great cameo in SPIDER-MAN 2, will you be back for SPIDER-MAN 3? WD: I ain't saying (laughs).
Source: JoBlo.com



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