INT: Emile Hirsch
Emile (pronounced Eh-meel for those wondering) Hirsch walks into our interview looking nothing - and I mean nothing - like his character Matthew Kidman from THE GIRL NEXT DOOR. He actually bears a slight resemblance to Jack Black in ORANGE COUNTY. Long hair, scraggly beard, baggy clothes, etc. He's explains the appearance as his way of getting into character to star in LORDS OF DOGTOWN, his next film for director Catherine Hardwick (THIRTEEN). In fact, he was just outside skating through the concrete jungle of Venice Beach. And I was outside soaking up the LA sun (it was still freezing back in NYC at the time), saw him skating and didn't even recognize him. After complimenting him on some of his moves, we got into it. Here's Emile Hirsch:
There were some definite similarities to RISKY BUSINESS in this film. Was that something you were aware of at the time?
We were definitely aware of the connections to RISKY BUSINESS when we made the film but you know, I was always rooting to be better than RISKY BUSINESS. Cause there were comparisons and I was like, "Luke [Greenfield, the director] don't think RISKY BUSINESS, this is gonna be BETTER than RISKY BUSINESS!" So I felt competitive with it in a way.
This film really has a good balance of heart and darkness.
Yeah, I mean it's a very dark script. It goes places that other movies wouldn't want to go. Pornography, for instance is a very - I'm almost nervous to say "taboo" subject these days cause it's so mainstream. This film has definitely got more shadows in it than most cinema does.
How mainstream is porn?
Let's put it this way. All your parents watch it (laughs).
Was it around much when you growing up?
I grew up in a very puritan-esque household so it wasn't really around me much growing up, no.
Do you think this is a realistic portrayal of high school kids?
Yeah. I went to public high school, so yeah. Pornography is like...I remember kids used to watch it in class, in Chemistry. They'd sit at the computer and they'd go to this porno site when the teacher wasn't looking and they'd be looking at the porn and then they'd click back the computer window to a computer application. I remember they used to go to BangBus.com. It was wild. It wasn't even like chemistry class anymore. It was like Bang Bus class.
Did you have an object of fantasy like the character in the movie?
I totally had a couple different fantasies. And I was a lot like Matthew Kidman in that I had a lot of trepidation when it came to getting the gusto and the verve to go over to a girl and go, "Hey, what's happening!" I did it once or twice to a girl who I really liked and I felt like the biggest chump and I somehow managed to trip over myself and say the stupidest thing possible. I'd talk about our immediate surroundings. I'd be like, "So...this ground is kinda hard, huh?" And they'd go, "Huh?"
As far as Hollywood goes, who's your fantasy person to meet and talk to?
I'd love to meet Brando. Marlon Brando cause he's so legendary in my mind.
Were you familiar with "24" at all?
I had actually never seen "24" before. But I watched a bunch of episodes and it's fun. I don't usually watch TV.
You had some nude scenes in this movie. Were you nervous?
I was extremely excited about all the nude scenes but to my dismay I found out I was shooting those scenes when I was still 17 cause I turned 18 halfway through production. So I had to get a body double. But I made sure he had buns of steel. I wanted to be able to crack a walnut on that thing.
The director mentioned you had some trepidation about taking this movie because you feared it would be another generic teen comedy. What convinced you?
Aside from the pornography factor, it was meeting the director Luke Greenfield. He really had this hyper-energy and passion about the project that I had never met in any director I had ever met before. He was so driven. I was like, "This guy is gonna be relentless and make a great movie." He really convinced me more than any director for anything I've ever made. He had the most energy. It was staggering.
Did you guys actually shoot at a real porn convention?
No, we actually brought the convention to a studio. They got all real booths and all real people manning the booths. So basically it was a convention where they wanted it.
Is there something you can enjoy - besides all the nerves - while doing a love scene in a movie?
Oh totally. I loved it. It's totally romantic. Maybe those actors aren't very good. I don't know what's going on. To me, it's a very intimate thing.
How do you prepare for scenes like that?
I think the key is good chemistry. Or being interested in the other person. Cause if you're not interested in who they are as a person, you're just not gonna be interested and it'll show on screen. It's like if you ever had a conversation with a person and you know they didn't want to talk.
How do you not fall for your leading lady every time?
I don't know...
How was it working with Timothy Olyphant? It looks like you guys had fun together.
He brought great sarcasm to the character that I thought was so important to the part. Another actor wouldn't have brought that same comedic sensibility so that character hanging out with younger kids would've seemed really weird and dangerous. It would've appeared scarier than he does. If he was dead serious.
When did you start to break out of your shell like your character did?
I think as I've gotten older a little bit I did. I've always been a little half out of my shell and half in. Sometimes I can be kinda wild and sometimes I can be real shy. It depends on the day.
When you shoot and you have this chemistry and make these friends, do you keep in touch after filming wraps?
Absolutely. You hang out and talk to each other all the time. Elisha, Chris, Paul and I still talk and keep in touch. There is something to be said for when you make a movie, cause it is a close environment and you do forge a special relationship with people that will dissipate, to a certain extent, afterwards.
Is working on this film any different than working on an indie movie like DANGEROUS LIVES OF ALTAR BOYS or a big production like THE EMPEROR'S CLUB?
Acting is acting. Whether you're doing a tiny movie or a huge movie. I try just as hard in both of them. I would never shortchange iether one of them. I almost tried especially hard in THE GIRL NEXT DOOR to make it the best cause to me, this is a genre where so often performances are half-assed. Actors sometimes just rely on the lines to be funny. To me it was important that the believability of my character be 100%, that way people would believe all this absurd and radical stuff that happens to him. They just kinda get sucked into the character and because I believed it, they would believe it.
You seem to be drawn to darker, more complex material. What can you tell us about IMAGINARY HEROES?
It's also very funny too. It's a dark comedy. It's about, my older brother is a great swimmer and everyone looks up to him as this classic icon and he kills himself. And I'm the underdog who was never paid attention to by the crazy dad, who was always going for the gusto with the other kid. It's kinda like, what does this kid do now? It's also a mystery cause my character is really upset and you're not sure why exactly or what happened.
How much are you like your character in real life?
In terms of the naive and innocent part, probably same amount of innocence and not quite so naive. I wasn't the class president or valedictorian or anything like that.
Are you gonna continue with acting full-time or do you plan on going to college?
Well I'm doing this movie in March called LORDS OF DOGTOWN. It's all about the Dogtown and Z-Boys and I'm gonna play this skater Jay Adams. He was this wild, wild skater who kinda missed his financial opportunities cause of his attitude when he was younger, even though he was the best. Catherine Hardwick is directing that and she did THIRTEEN and that's gonna be a big Sony movie so I'm totally excited about that.
You skate in that?
Yeah and I've skated for years and years. I'm not as good as the Z-Boys at all, but I'm probably better than 99% of the actors in the film.