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INT: Nick Stahl & Claire Danes

Jul. 1, 2003by: JoBlo

Interview 1: Kristanna Loken
Interview 2: Stan Winston
Interview 3: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Interview 4: Nick Stahl/Claire Danes
Interview 5: Jonathan Mostow

One of the fresh faces appearing in TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES is Nick Stahl, veteran of such acclaimed films as IN THE BEDROOM and THE THIN RED LINE.

With Edward Furlong officially entering into the drug-addled, self-destructive phase of his E! True Hollywood Story, understandably skittish producers booted the troubled child actor from the project and offered the role to Stahl. Seeing Stahl in the role of John Connor is a little odd at first, but the feeling fades quickly. Its kind of like when your favorite rock band changes bass players its not nearly as big a deal as one would think.

Stahl, looking a little bit like a rock star himself (unshaven, mussed-up hair, untucked shirt), talked about stepping into the blockbuster Terminator franchise.

NICK STAHL

Do you consider yourself more of an In the Bedroom or more of a T-3 actor?

I always respond to good material, good roles and stories. I can see the importance of doing a movie thats a little bigger, that more people will see, just to create more opportunities. But that was the furthest thing from my mind. Its not that I didnt want to do a blockbuster, but I just always was cast in smaller movies. More people will see this than any other movie Ive done, by far. Thats a positive thing, I guess.

Were you a fan of the Terminator movies?

I was. Mostly the second movie, because I was really young when the first one came out. I watched the first one once I was cast in this. But I loved the second one I saw it multiple times.

Can you talk about meeting Arnold?

I met him when we started rehearsing for the movie. I quickly discovered that he likes to sort of give you a hard time. Thats his sense of humor. He said, You know, I saw your audition tape. I was all nervous, and he said, It was...all right. (Laughs)

Thats sort of his sensibility. But it was great. He has a really strong work ethic. It was evident that he really wanted to make this movie as good as possible, so he really wanted to collaborate with the director and worked really hard. That was definitely something refreshing to see, from someone of his stature.

Whats it like stepping into a movie franchise that you were such a big fan of when you were a kid?

I didnt know what to expect from it. There was some initial pressure I felt, I guess, just because the role had been done before. I know that there were a lot of fans that wanted to see that again, to see that formula repeated. But I realized that I really couldnt think about that and I had a responsibility to make it my own.

This was a pretty intense role, from a physical standpoint.

Yeah. Ive done physical roles before, but not as physical throughout as this one is. Theres such a furious pace throughout the movie we never stop running. There were times in the movie when I felt like my role consisted of looking over my shoulder and saying, Come on! And Claires role consisted of saying, Oh my God! (Laughs).

I also did some weapons training for the film. It was as if I got to do everything I wanted to do as a kid. I got to learn to ride a motorcycle, too, which is something Id wanted to do anyway.

But it really doesnt matter how much you work out you still have to face Arnold each day.

Right. Its definitely an uphill battle. Arnold has a gym housed in this huge truck an 18 wheeler that followed us around wherever we went. He told me I could use it whenever I wanted to, but I never did. I was a little freaked out by the notion, I guess, but I looked inside a few times. Its a nice setup.

What was the audition process like?

When I found out they were doing the movie, they didnt have a script or anything. But they did say they were going to focus more on John Connor as a protagonist. I felt like it was an interesting idea, to explore what hes like 10 years later. The one thing that struck me with the second film was that, despite the fact that it is a commercial movie with all this action, there was a really strong story. That really intrigued me. I knew I wasnt really an action star or whatever, but if its a good role, then maybe Ill have a shot.

So I went in for the first audition, which led to five or more auditions and two or three screen tests. It was pretty intense each time it was one or two hours, really hatching it out.

Was Arnold involved at any point in the audition process?

No. There was just a couple of readers who tried to do Arnold. It was like two or three USC students reading opposite me. And they could not help doing at least a mild impression of him. But I didnt meet him until rehearsals started.

When did you get to see the script?

I didnt get to read it until after I got the role. I went to an office and had to go into this room, where some guy was standing there. I think he was the script-keeper or something. It was very much under wraps. I sat in the room I felt like I was sealed into a vault and read it. But I couldnt take it with me.

Are you signed on to do a sequel?

Yeah I am. But, its all speculative, I guess - depending on the success of this movie.

Adding a bit of thespian street-cred to TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES, is Claire Danes, acclaimed actress from such films as THE HOURS, IGBY GOES DOWN and a whole bunch of other really good films that Ive never seen. In T-3, Danes plays an ass-kicking veterinarian (no joke) who unwittingly joins our hero, John Connor, in his quest to save the world from nuclear annihilation. Danes role in T-3 introduces her to a whole new demographic of moviegoers namely, those with testosterone.

Heres what the lively actress had to say about the experience of making her first blockbuster:

CLAIRE DANES

How did you become involved with the project?

I was hired the day before I started filming literally. They initially cast another actress and I guess, ultimately, she was a bit too young for the role. Id been in Australia with my boyfriend on vacation and, coincidentally, the afternoon I arrived in LA I was supposed to stay for only three days before going back home to New York I got a frantic call from my agent, saying that there was a crisis on the set of T-3 and theyd like for me to step in immediately. So, someone messengered the script to me and I read it as quickly as I could. I tried to assess it with some kind of sound judgment, but I was delirious and jet-lagged. So, all of my defenses were down and I said, Uhhh, ok.

I guess I was lucky. It was like being hit by, you know, a five-ton diamond and being severely concussed. But when I came to, I realized that I had a fortune on my lap. But there was a real symmetry between my experience and that of the character. I felt like I had been kidnapped by the Terminator, and was along for the ride, screaming and kicking and panting, going, Where the hell am I? Whats happening to me? Why me? (Laughs) Thats how it felt.

What was the first scene you shot?

The first shot was in the vet hospital, and Im hovering in the corner, going: (she starts panting vigorously) which I do throughout the entire movie. Thankfully, that was exactly what I was feeling at the time, so it wasnt much of a stretch.

Did you always want to do a blockbuster?

Kinda sorta. Id just made three sensitive, progressive, experimental, independent movies, and I was like, You know what? Its time to shoot some stuff. Not in terms of film to actually, literally, shoot some shit. And blow things up.

I loved the first two Terminator movies. I dont know who doesnt. So I felt that if Im ever to work in this genre, this is a decent place to start. And I think Jonathan Mostow is a really clever, responsible filmmaker and such a lovely, decent man. So I felt safe in his company. And Nick is a real actor, and so I felt that I would have a real ally with him.

What was it like meeting Arnold for the first time? Was it what you expected?

I couldnt even begin to fantasize about how he would actually be in real life. It was very hard to process him as a person, because hes such an icon. So, I entered this world with this superhuman figure.

He is really super-sized. Everything about him is just enormous. He loves Hummers. He collects watches, and all of his watches are humongous the faces are the size of my wrists combined. He wears these enormous cowboy boots with spurs. He loves cars. He would have them on the set, because he just likes to enjoy them. And I remember this one time when he brought a tank. The man owns a tank! It was like the size of a bus. And there was a Mercedes sign on the front that was like the size of a basketball.

But at the same time, he can be quite personable, and he can be really funny. He was really interested in my relationship with Ben. He was always kind of provoking me, trying to get the dirt. Hes kind of gossipy.

Hes really generous. Hes really concerned with helping underprivileged kids. And thats all very sincere. Thats not for show. But then, he also has tanks.

Nick mentioned that he likes to joke around a lot.

Yeah. Timothy, my boyfriend Bens nephew, was having a Bar Mitzvah in Sidney and I was supposed to go, but I couldnt because I found myself making Terminator 3. And I was really sad to miss it, so I asked Arnold to make a little videotape wishing Timothy a happy Bar Mitzvah and he did. And its the funniest thing ever. He was like, Yes Timothy, you think you are a man now, but you dont know what it is to be a man. So, at his Bar Mitzvah his parents wheeled out the TV and it had this message from Arnold Schwarzenegger! Of course, all of the other kids at the Bar Mitzvah were like, How do we book Arnold?

Are you signed on for a sequel?

Yeah, I think I am. I think its in my contract.

One sequel?

Two. But I dont know; its pretty ambiguous, this whole issue of yet another installment. Ive been trying to pry answers out of Jonathan about that, but hes pretty tight-lipped. I think it will have to do with the audiences response to this, and if they have a sustained enthusiasm for the Terminator, then I guess well have to supply the people with more. I would feel very comfortable if Jonathan decided to direct the next one, because I have a really good relationship with them.

------------------------

Interview 1: Kristanna Loken
Interview 2: Stan Winston
Interview 3: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Interview 4: Nick Stahl/Claire Danes
Interview 5: Jonathan Mostow
Source: JoBlo.com

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