One of the biggest surprises I had with the sleaze-filled and amazingly kick ass Robert Rodriguez portion of GRINDHOUSE, PLANET TERROR, was the love I had for the married couple from hell, Mr. and Mrs. Brock. Both are doctors and both seem to despise each other. And you really cant beat Josh Brolin and Marley Shelton as the unhappily married duo. Yeah sure, we all knew about the machine gun leg and Ms. Rose McGowan, who rocks the screen, but did I have any idea the fun and carnage these two brought. This includes one of the most politically incorrect moments Ive seen in quite awhile at the local multiplex, youll know it when you see it. Both of these pros have had a pretty varied career and Joshs dad made horror fans happy with the original THE AMITYVILLE HORROR. Well now, Josh adds a bit of genre history along side his lovely, blood streaked wife played to perfect pitch by Marley.
you guessed it. Marley and
Josh found themselves at the Four Seasons in
|Josh Brolin||Marley Shelton|
So how did this happen with [director Robert] Rodriguez for you guys? [Other cast members] said that it was months before they found out. They had seen him and then waited a year.
Marley Shelton: I had worked with Robert on Sin City so we had a relationship, but I auditioned for him. But yeah, it was a few months before they told me I had the part. I think they were playing around with the schedule because I think Roberts wife, Elizabeth, was 9 months pregnant so they pushed production back. Originally it was supposed to go a few months earlier, so I think thats why there was that lag time.
Josh Brolin: I think it was suppose to start March 1st and then it went in May.
MS: I think even earlier. Yeah, so they waited until after she had the baby to start.
So whats wrong with this marriage [Regarding their characters in Grindhouse? [Laughter]
JB: Nothing, its perfectly normal; the quintessential modern marriage.
MS: Quite frankly, if the zombies had never infiltrated our town, it could have gone on for 30 more years the Cold War marriage.
JB: There would be movies and great documentaries based on our marriage.
MS: But the zombie effect is the catalyst that you know
JB: She tells a great story, you know Robert gave us these great books that I dont know, he came across them go ahead, you tell the story.
MS: The first order of business was he gave these books called His Needs, Her Needs and they were pop-psychology books on how to salvage a doomed relationship. And very seriously he told us, I want you both to take these home and read them. Tomorrow were going to discuss. And we discussed all the principles, and then how to do the opposite in the movie.
JB: So literally, how to create a doomed marriage by Mr. and Mrs. Dr. Block.
How do you act your role when you are making fun of your roles in the movie and everything you are doing? How do you play that?
MS: As straight as possible.
JB: I dont think we did make fun of our roles in the movie.
MS: It is the circumstances that are absurd, but if we were to be over the top or cheeky or winking at the camera it [wouldnt have worked].
JB: It would have been weird.
You cant camp that stuff.
MS: No you cant. Its like chocolate on chocolate otherwise.
JB: Exactly, you know how you have such absurd circumstances, then you have us that are truly like what they were back then, which she mentioned earlier, where back in the exploitation times they took all that seriously. It was like their Shakespeare.
MS: It was very earnest.
But they were terrible actors mostly.
MS: Not always. Sometimes they were victims of their circumstances, which were just bad movies. We could be made to look quite bad in the wrong hands. Its the filmmakers vision.
JB: Plus back then, with these guys, they didnt have a lot of experience [and] they didnt have a lot of money. So youd get people literally off the streets saying, Hey man, you ever acted before? Want to be in my film? Because youd look awesome.
So what about the thing with the needles? Was that a fun prop to be working with for the two of you? It seemed a little threatening.
MS: You know, there was a very strange thing that happened with the needles, which was life imitating art, imitating life. In the first scene which Nicky Katt, who plays Joe, the first zombie who has to come and has to get his arm amputated, some how true story we had prop needles which were retractable needles, some how they got switched with real needles, which were the picture needles for close-ups.
And Nicky and I are doing the scene and were looking at each while Im saying the dialogue, while Im administering the anesthetic, and they yell cut and we look down and hes like, I think my arm is bleeding. And he was gushing blood! I had punctured his veins. It was so horrifying. And to make it even weirder, the guy who plays Dr. Felix, his colleague who is showing all the grotesque photographs on the screen, was Roberts real doctor. He thought, Wouldnt it would be so funny if I had Dr. Felix play Dr. Felix? And hes got this really great hilarious bedside manner that really is him. Thats the way he talks. Theyre his pictures of disgusting things from the field. And so just were like, Doc Felix what do we do?
JB: Like literally, there was a doctor within 4 feet from them.
MS: It was so surreal. I know surreal is an overused term.
Did Nicky pass out?
MS: He had the strangest reaction. I think he was a little bit stunned.
JB: I dont know if he thought it was supposed to happen or what, but they did several takes just like that, because in digital you can just keep rolling. So they did it again and again and again. And finally it was like some reality, some sparkle in his eye and you look down and you see this blood going ssssh like this.
MS: Oh, it was awful! I was horrified.
JB: Im still working on that those were real pictures that they showed on the screen [Trust me, he aint kidding. Wait till you see them.].
I think the real deal is much worse. Its like having real bullets put in the prop gun. I mean thats really lethal.
JB: That was a pretty powerful moment.
MS: It was pretty crazy.
Josh, I just saw an Academy screener of The Dead Girl and you gave an incredible performance in that. Its a wonderful film. Im surprised it didnt get more of a release.
JB: I know, me too. Im very, very surprised. You never know.
It was a wonderful film. Its so depressing. It is kind of difficult to say to people, Lets go see The Dead Girl.
JB: I think a depressing story done by an incredible filmmaker is a great. I mean it depends.
MS: It got nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, right?
JB: It got nominated for Best Picture for an Independent Sprit Award and all that. But she deserves a lot of acclaim just as a filmmaker. I mean Blue Car I saw, and I thought it was great.
Didnt you just finish with the Coen brothers, or are you still working with them?
JB: No, I finished last summer.
Were hoping that goes to Cannes.
JB: I think they just showed it last Wednesday.
Marleys done The Fifth Patient since [Grindhouse], what else have you done since this?
JB: I did the Coen brothers film. I did American Gangster.
Do you live or die in that?
JB: Im not going to tell you that! That was a huge bone of contention between Ripley, and I to figure that out. What direction we wanted to go with that. And then Paul Haggis film, In the Valley of Elah its called; [its] about a parents feeling about his son going to war in Iraq. Its very personal.
Are you the parent?
JB: No, Im not. Tommy Lee Jones is the parent.
Was your inclusion in Death Proof a kind of last minute decision, or was it always intended?
MS: It was a mid-way decision. Michael Parks always plays this character, Earl McGraw, in all of Quentins movies and in From Dust til Dawn, which they both directed. So Robert and Quentin both, of course, wanted to have Michael Parks [playing Earl McGraw] in both of their movies in Grindhouse.
In some markets they said these movies are going to be released separately, and they are going to be longer versions. That must be so exciting. Have you seen the international versions?
JB: I have not. We just saw the domestic version a couple of days ago.
Josh, your doctor character, the thermometer, was an affectation or was he checking his temperature to make sure he was not getting sick?
JB: No, no he was checking his temper.
Oh, I thought maybe it was a Kojak, lollipop kind of thing.
JB: No, no we talked about it because Robert and I thought he should have some physical thing, and we went through a few different things, toothpicks and all that. Robert was the one who came up with the thermometer, saying what if he was constantly checking his level of anger, the rage that he felt. I thought it was such a great idea. And then he did that that close-up later when I break my CRUNCH [Breaking the thermometer].
Was that at all because Quentin is such a Hollywood historian kind of guy, was it a nod at all to your dad with Marcus Welby?
JB: Well, Quentin brought up because I know Death Proof was at least partially and I dont know how much but partially inspired, because Quentin came up to me and was like, You know your dad and The Car, remember that movie? Where they couldnt see who was in the car, and was it the devil and was it not? I mean Quentin everybody knows this and its become a cliché at this point about what an encyclopedia Quentin is, but it really is fascinating that he knows everything in every film and whence it came and whence it went from that point and what was based on that film, but I know The Car had a big influence on him writing Death Proof.
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