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INT: Hope Davis

10.26.2005

It’s about that time of year, when the nights grow shorter, the leaves change color and the movies get serious. Oscar season is upon us, bringing with it all sorts of films about relationships and causes and gay cowboys. This is when the studios bring out their big guns in an effort to catch the Academy’s eye and pick up a few statues.

There are no gay cowboys in THE WEATHER MAN (at least as far as I could tell). There is, however, a pretty impressive cast, including acclaimed actors Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine and Hope Davis. Davis stopped by the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills a few weeks ago to talk about her experience making THE WEATHER MAN. Check it out.

Hope Davis

What was it like working with Nicolas Cage? Are your styles very different?

I learned some things from him. He is a very unique individual. He’s not like other guys. But acting-wise, he’s extremely free in front of the camera. He’s really prepared and he really knows what he’s doing, but when we’re shooting he really tries something different on every take. He’s very creative. Not like we don’t know where he’s going to be, but he’s very creative and it kind of woke me up a little bit. You’ve gotta really stay alive, because he’s throwing something new at you.

What about working with Gore Verbinski, a guy who isn’t known for films like this?

I really feel like Gore is able to do whatever he sets his eyes on. He’s very talented. I think this was a break for him in a way from the big action stuff, which is really…it’s hard to shoot that kind of stuff. It’s long, long schedules. I think for him to do something that’s really kind of narrative-driven was exciting. He’s great. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s very relaxed on set, very confident. I loved being around him.

How many takes did you do of the scene where Nic Cage hits you with the snowball?

I think about 25 or 30 time before we got it right.

Who was throwing the snowball at you offscreen?

Gore Verbinski. (laughs) He wanted to throw it. He threw all of the food at Nic. He did all the throwing. I think he just wanted to take responsibility in case somebody got clocked with something. I guess he wanted to be the one to take the fall.

I thought the snowball scene was so funny. I mean, I love it in the script that he’s trying to kind of reconnect with her and he ends up slamming her in the face with a ball of snow. After a while – because Gore was afraid to throw it really hard and he kept kind of missing me – I finally said, “Gore, you’ve got to throw it as hard as you can right at my face.” (laughs)

What was it like working with Michael Caine? Did you ever ask him for advice?

We were all asking Michael Caine for advice. Michael Caine wrote a book that most actors have read, because it’s filled with very real tips about what to do. And so we talked about the book and he was giving us little tips about where you put your eye when this is happening. He’s a master.

Do you act differently on set when you’re around someone like that?

No. He’s not intimidating. It is an honor to be on a set with someone like Michael Caine. He’s such a wonderful actor; he’s been in so many great films. I was really excited to meet him, because his book really did…I mean I kind of carried it around like a bible when I was just starting out. It’s such a great book; you should read it if you haven’t read it. He’s not an intimidating type of person. He’s very lovely and very very friendly. He believes he’s a working actor. So it was great to be with him.

When you saw the final cut of the film, were you surprised by any aspect of it?

Yeah. A couple things. I was really really impressed with the kids. I thought they were amazing in the film. And very brave. I was surprised by how moved I was. When we were shooting, I thought it was really funny. I thought the script was hilarious and I thought the scenes we were shooting were really funny. I didn’t know how kind of moving it was going to be. And dark in tone. I loved the visual landscape. I really liked it.

What do you think people will take out of this film when they see it?

I think the film is somewhat about celebrity and what that’s really about. I mean, he’s kind of the local celebrity and that it’s not really as fun as it looks, maybe. It’s also about family life. In his pursuit of his career he let’s go of his family and they are not doing very well. It’s not a lesson-based film, but there’s stuff to think about if you’re raising kids.

Did the weather in Chicago affect you at all?

Well, the lack of weather in some ways. It was very cold, obviously. It was Chicago. But it didn’t snow. So we were making snow every day. That was complicated, I think, for the production. There were cold days, but I feel bad complaining because we had trailers. The actors had trailers and the crew was out there all day. I think it was a hard shoot for them.

We know that Nicolas’s character is pretty oblivious to his kids’ problems, but why isn’t your character more aware?

That’s something that I really liked about the script. Because often the mother is left as the one kind of saving the day and holding everyone together, and in fact she’s kind of no better than he is. I thought that was a really interesting point in the film, that she’s kind of as self-absorbed, maybe, as he is. And they’re so busy battling out with one another than nobody’s there watching out for the kids.

Questions? Comments? Manifestos? Send them to me at thomasleupp@joblo.com.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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